Monday, June 30, 2014

Old School Foresail Reefing

Nearly every sailboat has a roller reefing system in place to reduce the size of the jib or genny in stronger winds. Wrinkles, our previous boat had a CDI FF2 furler which worked really well. You could sail out onto the lake and easily adjust the sail size to match the wind or quickly douse the entire sail. We missed that convenience on the O'Day 25 after a couple of windy sailing days

We only intend to sail the O'Day for one season, so we don't want to invest the money to add the roller furler and sail. Our solution was to go old school and add traditional slab reefing to our existing hank-on sail. The idea is simple; punch some holes in the sail about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way from the foot of the sail, add reinforcement patches and a couple of lines to tie it all up. Brenda cut up an old sail to make the reinforcement pieces and added a thick strap on the tack (front) of the sail. Next we bought a stainless steel ring for the sheets to attach to at the clew (back) of the sail. We used a sailmaker's needle and heavy waxed thread to attach the ring to the sail. If this was going to be a coastal cruiser we would also have added an eyelet for wear and strength, but for an inland sailboat we didn't think it was necessary.

The final step was to modify our sheets (the lines that control the sail) so they could be easily moved from the normal attachment point to the new one 3' up. We searched the internet for ideas and ended up with a slightly altered version of one we saw and liked. A small piece of line with a big stopper knot is whipped to the sheets near the attachment point which gives you a quick release system.

This weekend we sailed in winds that averaged 15 to 28 mph with really strong gusts. The simple reefing system worked nearly perfectly and allowed us to sail comfortably despite the conditions. A reefed mainsail balanced with a reefed jib was just the ticket. The only issue was the fixed fairlead position for the sheets wouldn't allow us to adjust the angle of the sheets. The reduced jib really needed the fair leads moved forward to pull the leech of the sail downward to reduce the flutter. We'll have to see if we can improvise a solution to that which is less costly than adding tracks to the fairlead system.

Just call us Old School.


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