Heavy Weather Sailing Secrets – Save Reefing Time with these Magic Marks!

Captain John from www.skippertips.com brings us these great tips for easier reefing when you need it most.

If you’re anything like me, tucking in a reef in heavy weather sailing can be tough no matter what. And anything that saves time becomes worth its weight in gold! Here’s one technique you’ll want to put in play today to make this sailboat cruising task easier than ever before!

Most small cruising sailboats carry one or two persons as crew–so that means that one person has to handle the sailboat wheel or tiller. And this leaves one or two persons to wrestle with the mainsail when it comes time to reef!

Five Easy Steps for Faster Reefing

As deck crew, your first step at the sailing mast will be to ease the halyard down to the first or second reef grommet. But how much? Mark your halyards ahead of time to know just how far to lower the halyard for reefing. Follow these five super simple steps:

1. Pick a calm day at your slip or mooring with light or no wind. Ask a friend to help out. Bring along a black fine-tip permanent ink pen or a roll of bright colored sticky-back ripstop nylon tape (used for sail repairs).

2. Hoist the mainsail all the way to the top of the mast. Cleat off the halyard. Reeve the tack reefing line through the first tack reef grommet.

3. Lower the mainsail halyard and haul down on your first tack reefing line. If you use a tack reef hook, lower the halyard and place the grommet into the hook. Cleat off the halyard.

4. Mark the halyard where it touches the mast cleat. If you lead the halyard aft to the cockpit and use rope clutches, mark the exit point of the halyard on the aft side of the clutch. Make one thick circle with your permanent marker or wrap a strip of ripstop tape around the halyard. Make your circle easy to see day or night, or in foul weather.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for your second set of reef points. Make two thick circles spaced 1/4″ apart with your permanent marker where it touches the cleat or clutch or wrap two strips of tape around the halyard. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for a third set of reef points (mark the halyard with three circles).

With these easy steps, you can make heavy weather sailing that much easier for you and your sailing crew. This will give you the confidence you need to sail in any marine weather–wherever in the world you choose to cruise.

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