Reefing the jib

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Reefing the jib

Postby Slim » Sat Apr 23, 2022 9:43 am

Has anyone here had any experience adding reef points to their jib? In these days of roller furling/reefing it seems like an uncommon practice and definitely not as convenient as slab reefing on the mainsail. However, as a lightweight single-handed sailor, I often feel overpowered by the jib in stronger winds, yet dousing it severely impairs boat performance. I’d like to try adding a set of reef points.
Here are some considerations I’ve been thinking of:
-tack and clew placement to maintain the right sheeting angle. I’ve read that the clew wants to be proportionally higher than the tack.
-management of the lower, unused portion of the sail. Ties? Velcro? Zipper?
-how to reef the jib while hove to... I imagine a dedicated reefing line to the reef tack that could be pulled on while letting out the halyard and then cleated off. As far as the clew, maybe a temporary line that holds the sail aback while the sheet is being moved to the new clew?
I know the standard practice would be to switch out to a storm jib, but this seems even more difficult to accomplish in open water when the wind is picking up. The biggest difficulty in my mind is that the jib is necessary to remain hove to while reefing...
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby tomodda » Sun Apr 24, 2022 8:19 am

Just to be contrarian (per my usual), why not add another set of reef points to your main? Rationale :

1 - The stock jib is so small, the last thing you'd want to do is screw up its normal (unreefed) airflow with zippers, reef points, etc.
2 - The majority of the DS's drive, and heeling moment, comes from the main. The jib is there for balance, so you can point upwind. Same as any other fractional rig. So I'd argue that reefing the main down further will have more impact than reefing the jib.
3 - Once you have the main reefed down to the point that the head of the sail is at the hounds (level with head of jib), you have yourself a handy little sailplan. If you have to reef any further than that, you really shouldn't be out there.

Of course, it's a different story if you're in a situation where you may be caught out in a blow, a multi-day cruise where you get caught in a frontal system. Very different from our usual day sailing, but still achievable in our boats. If so, then I'd suggest a storm jib. The problem here is the near impossibility of working on the foredeck in any sort of sea. That really complicates any jib reefing system, or for that matter swapping headsails over to a smaller jib. For instance, lots of DS skippers rig a jib down haul, to avoid having to go forward. But any system of lines risks tangling and jamming, meaning you have to go forward, not good in a storm. Of course, there's roller furling, but it adds expense, wears out the sail, screws up the sail shape, and they ALSO jam. Good for Code 0's and assyms, but that's another story. Back to storm jibs, think about a running stay to the spinnaker block, setting and dousing your storm jib from the cockpit, just like a spin. You'd essentially have a Solent rig, if you do it with dyneema or the like, it'll be just as good or better than a wire.

Anyway, enough rambling. Reef your main!

Tom
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby GreenLake » Sun Apr 24, 2022 1:22 pm

Tom gives sound advice. There are some cruises where you might have a heavily loaded (ballasted) boat and are sailing in otherwise protected waters but if you are not lucky, you might find yourself in heavy winds. That might be an occasion where you would set a storm jib at the start of the day.

.. in addition to the third reef on your main.

Make sure you can reef your main to the point where you can sail in all the different wind conditions you plan to sail in.
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby Slim » Mon Apr 25, 2022 9:14 pm

Jeez! Tough crowd! I thought that I was onto a good idea for those who might take their Daysailer to new extremes: single handing in big water, multi day cruises where fellow boaters may be a rare sight, leaving the motor at home and relying on one’s cleverly outfitted boat to get through any conditions... I have found the Daysailer to be an amazingly capable boat and enjoy addressing its shortcomings to make it even better. I don’t relish the idea of getting caught out in squally conditions, but if I do, I’d like to be as prepared as possible.
Which is why I brought up reefing the jib, not the main. Currently, the second reef in my main brings the peak of the sail down to the hounds, as tomoda suggests. At this size, even in quite strong winds, the main is easy to control and does not seem to contribute significantly to the heeling of the boat. However, especially if it is gusty and I need to beat upwind, the jib gets tough to control and seems to want to pull me over. Also the boat loses its tendency to head up into gusts, which seems an important safety factor. This is the point where I’d like to reef the jib, if I could. It would help balance the storm-reefed sail plan and keep me sailin’ not flailin’.
Admittedly the idea of figuring out a reefable jib is tricky and perhaps there is another solution.
I have not tried out a storm jib, and perhaps this is a good first step. I have an old jib I’m hoping to cut down to experiment with new tack and clew positions. This would eliminate the complexity of figuring out how to deal with excess sailcloth. Biggest downside is that it really would not be practical to swap jibs in a blow.
I like the idea of flying the storm jib on it’s own halyard inside of the regular jib (I had to look up “Solent rig”) Thanks for that idea. The biggest drawback there is that the regular jib would be piled up on the foredeck flopping around and one would most likely have to rig a whole other sheet system for the storm jib. Maybe not less complicated than a reefable jib.
I just put down the money for a set of auto-ratchet blocks for the jib sheets, hoping that will help with heavy air jib control. Too many times I’ve had to tack just because my hand was cramping up and going numb...
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby GreenLake » Tue Apr 26, 2022 8:45 am

I've sailed on the Texas200 where you are out for five days in open boats like and including the DS, often far from any ports, and in some years, the winds can pipe up beyond the usual 25. Most people there have a third reef for the main, and I've not seen anyone do a reefed jib. (Or if they were set up for that, it never came up in discussions, unlike the third reef, or try sails/storm jibs).

Slab reefing the jib is possible, and we promise we'll be like vultures all over anything you learn if you decide to go for it.

You may be correct about the clew. A raised clew will mean the sheet pulls down more than back, closing the leech. I don't know where I would go for confirmation of this. Or for data on the desired shape of the reefed portion of your sail.

I can picture the mechanics of doing a reefline at the tack, but I can't picture swapping the clew. Even if the sail isn't bar taught while hove to, it would be a challenge because I'd expect it to flog.

So yes, unless someone here happens to know how it's done on larger boats, you'll be the first.
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby tomodda » Wed Apr 27, 2022 9:10 am

>The biggest drawback there is that the regular jib would be piled up on the foredeck flopping around and one would most likely have to rig a whole other sheet system for the storm jib.

Rig a downhaul. Once the jib is down on deck, a good tug on the sheets is enough to tame it. It'll still be an unsightly jumble, but at least not flapping around. But make sure the head is under control (via your downhaul, keep it snug), or it will try to ride up the forestay. As for another set of sheets, the spinnaker uses an extra set so not seeing this as a big deal, personally. I'm basically proposing that you set and douse your storm jib just like your spin - out of the cockpit. Preferably from a dedicated bag, with sheets already attached. You'd be left with two "extra" lines, the halyard (use same one as your spin) and a "tackline" to another block at bows, to be tied to the tack of your storm jib.

Lastly, sheeting angle. I'd be tempted to put an extra eye bolt some 3 feet back from your regular jib sheet block position and just rigging your storm sheet to that. Maybe invest in a dedicated set of blocks instead of reusing the jib blocks. You don't need a move able block (sheet car and track) for a storm jib, just set it at a good angle (line of the jib sheet bisects the luff). So, storm procedure is - attach spin halyard and tackline to head and tack of sail; attach storm jib blocks to your "storm eyes," making sure to run the Windward sheet in front of the mast first; douse jib, pull all control lines taut; raise storm jib. I'd assume your are hove-to for this fun exercise, so you'll have the added complication of dousing a back winded foresail, but still I think it's doable. A fun rigging and seamanship puzzle, that's for sure!

Again to be contrarian, for this theoretical storm on a theoretical multi-day DS dinghy cruise, why not just douse the jib and run for nearest shelter, even if you have to beach her? Unless you are coastal (as in Ocean) sailing, or somewhere completely rockbound, there's nothing wrong with beaching. Little easier in the Hobie Cats I grew up on, but that's how we dealt with storms when camp-cruising. Also, as GL has pointed out in various posts, once the DS is loaded down with cruising supplies, she's way more stable, all that ballast. So your "window" of manageable solo sailing is a lot wider. Meaning that by the time you really need to shorten your foresail, you'll be in survival mode anyway. Run if you are near shore, heave-to and ride it out if you have searoom. Do some trial runs of both situations so that you'll know what to do when it counts. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

Tom
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby Slim » Sun May 01, 2022 6:53 pm

Thanks all for the feedback and ideas. Sorry I called you a tough crowd!
Thanks especially, tomodda, for envisioning the idea of a quick deploying storm jib. Sounds easier than reefing in many ways, especially as it could be done underway with the regular jib backed maybe? The problem is that I don’t currently run a spinnaker, so it would be quite a bit of extra rigging in addition to an extra sail to carry.
Today I uncovered the boat and put the mast up to experiment with the jib reefing idea. Spring has finally made it to the northcountry!
Raised an old jib and used some tarp clamps to experiment with reefed tack and clew positions.
Thought this looked pretty good:
2969
Looks like it would work well with existing sheet leads and the excess sail should be no problem to tie up with 3 regular reef nettles. Seems like it would be best to have the reef points above the window just so the window would be completely rolled up when reefed. In the photo the tack is 36” higher and the clew is 34”. For now maybe I’ll put aside the challenge of being able to easily reef it while underway and assume that I’d tie in the reef before heading out or seek a sheltered spot to re-rig.
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby GreenLake » Mon May 02, 2022 5:48 pm

I would see it as an opportunity to look into a spinnaker. They take a bit to wrap your mind around when you've never flown one, but pretty soon you'll be single handing one of them (in light-ish winds).

And just as you are planning for heavy winds, you should plan for lighter winds as well. (About light wind sailing)
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby Slim » Mon May 02, 2022 9:04 pm

My plan for lighter winds is to swim, drink beer, row, play the harmonica, birdwatch, listen to reggae music, fish, stare at the clouds, etc...
However, if I were to seek better sailing performance in light winds, I feel that I might tend towards the UPS, drifter, etc. that would be useful in a wider range of situations. These seem best flown outside the forestay on a short bowsprit and maybe roller furled. Could the rigging for such a sail also work for a storm jib?
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Re: Reefing the jib

Postby GreenLake » Tue May 03, 2022 9:43 am

What you describe is the "no-wind" scenario. My usual strategy is to take a nap.

A UPS is by all accounts a nice plan for light winds. However, it's more an alternative to a spinnaker than something you can piggyback your storm jib off.

Often, a UPS is flown on a furler ahead and above the forestay. (Using a bowsprit and attaching the halyard a foot or so higher than the forestay.) This increases the area, which is nice for a light wind sail, and it also allows the sail to be tacked through the slot between furler and forestay. The UPS does not use a pole.
I'm not sure where you would sheet that best; could be you'd want your fairleads a bit more forward than for a spinnaker, but I'd have to read the old posts here to remind myself. But I think sheets are run outside the shrouds, like for a spinnaker.

A class-legal spinnaker would be set from a halyard that is just above the forestay. It has a pole and it is sheeted to the very back of the boat with fairleads (turning blocks) almost at the stern quarter.

Now, a storm jib ideally is attached to an inner stay, something that is well inside the forestay triangle. You'd want smaller sail area, and you'd want it lower. I suppose you'd want to sheet this inside the shrouds, so neither spinnaker nor UP sheets would be natural.
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