boat work, Gear

Modding the main

When we bought Elara, one nice thing was that the sails were at excellent condition.  The genoa was literally brand new, and the main was only a few years old, and in exceptional condition.  The one problem is that it (the main) only had a single reef point…  While this would be fine for daysailing/racing when you have the option to simply not go out when the weather is bad, we plan to cruise which means we don’t always have that option.

For safety’s sake, I figured we needed the ability to shorten sail (significantly) in case of unexpected squalls etc… Queue the need for an additional reef point…  While one “rule of thumb” for reef points is to place each one at approximately 6′ intervals along the luff, my rationale was that the second reef should be a deep one, almost to a 3rd reef measurement.

The justification for this was twofold:

  1. Since our boat is a tall rig, she gets overpowered much sooner and needs to be reefed early and deeply.
  2. As a cruiser and not a racer, I would always rather be underpowered than overpowered for safety.

So, after talking with the sailmaker the decision was made to put the second reef point at 16′ along the luff rather than 12′ and just shy of the 18′ that would be a “normal” 3rd reef point.  This should allow us to significantly de-power the main when the wind gets over 25-30+.  Might have been different if we were racers, but for a liveaboard/cruising boat, this should give us the flexibility we need to deal with unpredictable conditions on our trip…

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