2023.06.24 - Adjusting the Reefing Lines

One of the few YouTube channels to which I subscribe is Toby Goes Sailing and is the continuing journey of Toby in his 20ft Norfolk Gypsy named Shamrock. One the things that we have been discussing on his channel is the reefing system on Shamrock. It started out being quite difficult for Toby to carry out a reef single handed and ended up with him being able to do it with ease and these discussions reminded me that since I had new sails on Naiad, her leech reefing lines needed to be changed to suit the new sails.

Ideally this needs to be done with the sail hoisted and that in turn meant having little or no wind. The forecast for this weekend showed that light winds were likely so I set off and the usual stupid o'clock and arrived at Mersea around 6am a little after High Water. The forecast also suggested that it would be a hot day and although I had originally decided to have a nap and then get to work, I decided to get the job done and then take a nap.

The problem with the reefing lines in the leech can be seen in the photo above. The sail is shorter along the boom than before and the first reefing line, seen here, is now angled too far back. Ideally the line should be almost vertical and just a little aft so that the cringle is pulled down to the boom and a little back. The reduced length of the sail also means that the clew outhaul doesn't work properly as the stainless ring is pulled forward and fouls the old reefing system as you can see.

You can see the problem in this photo with Naiad sailing along with one reef in the main. The reefing line is pulling as much aft as it is down and this not only make it harder to pull down the reef but also makes the reef a little less effective.

My task today was to remove the old reefing system and to put in two new cheek blocks, one for each reef, so that the reef cringle is pulled in the correct direction. To do this I had to hoist the sail to get it out of the way, remove the screws that held the old system in place and cut off the wooden reefing comb with a saw since I had glued it in place. Some work with a chisel tidied up the mess and a coat of varnish completed the removal of the old system. I didn't do the varnish until all was done, mind.

To find the correct place for the cheek blocks I put in the reefs one by one, just pulling the leech cringle down by hand and then placing the block on the boom where it needed to go and used a drill bit to mark the position of one of the two screws that hold the block to the boom. The pilot hole for the screw was drilled and the block put in place with the screw only partially inserted. I could then hold the block in place with one hand and mark the position of the second screw with the drill bit. Soon the block was in place and I could thread the reefing line. The reef was shaken out and the line adjusted so that when the sail was fully hoisted, the reefing line was just a little slack. The I put the reef in again using the newly placed reefing line to check my work. This procedure was then repeated for the second reef.

Finally I replaced the clew outhaul line with a longer one, shackled the ring onto the clew cringle, which couldn't be done before as the ring was stopped before it reached the cringle and was tied with a light line instead, and re-tied the outhaul.

This is the result for the first reef although the new block is covered up by the boom crutches and sail, but you can easily see that the stainless ring is no longer being restrained and is hanging vertically as it should.

This is the second reef with the block just visible.

The boom crutches are leaning forward so that they don't touch the wet varnish.

All in all a good day's work. It took me around three hours to complete and once I had packed up all the tools I took a nap.

Two hours later I rowed ashore for a cup of tea that hadn't been made by me and an ice cream. I took the bucket of tools with me to put in the car so that I wouldn't be so loaded up when I left. Once again found on reaching the Hammerhead that I'd left my wallet and keys aboard and since it was just after Low Water, the club launch couldn't get out to Naiad due to lack of depth of the water. I had to row back, get my sporran and then row back to the Hammerhead. After putting the tools in the car I had my tea and two ice creams to compensate for the unexpected additional rowing.

When I returned to Naiad I took my time lashing the Reolink to the mast, putting on the bird netting and packing up to leave and I thought that I had everything done but as I was rowing away and admiring how Naiad looked I realised that I had forgotten to put on the sail cover.

Next weekend looks to be too windy for a sail but still hot so I'll probably make another trip and plug all the screw holes left after taking out the old reefing system and put another coat of varnish on the end of the boom. There are a few other things to sort out as is the case with boats of any type. The leather that protects the boom from the topping lift is on the wrong way round and needs to be fixed, there is a bit of a gouge in the boom that needs to be filled and varnished, the two whisker shrouds need to be replaced and the mousing wire on several shackles taken off and replaced. A number of these are rusty and will be replaced with stainless wire. All of them tend to catch ropes or sails and need either be done so that the ends are not sticking out or covered with self-amalgamating rubber tape. Come to think on it both would be a better idea.

But that's another day's set of tasks.

Time for a cup of tea.