Reefing a Lateen Sail for Voyaging

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Blue Heron, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    Two of my planned adventures for my Sunfish include long (ok... long for a Sunfish, anyway ) voyages along the northern Gulf Coast from Dog River (on Mobile Bay) to New Orleans, and then later from Dog River to Appalachicola Florida. Both of these trips will involve short hops on semi-open waters. I am a very experienced sailor, but I have some reservations about the amount of sail a Sunfish carries and it's lack of reefing points. While I do enjoy the lively performance of my boat in sheltered waters, I'd hate to get caught in a squall very far away from land (more than a mile or so) without some ability to shorten sail. This is especially important since a few spots along the coast where I'll be going are devoid of safe places in which to take shelter.

    Attached are two photographs of lateen rigs set up for reefing which were posted by Todd Bradshaw (a very clever guy) on the WoodenBoat forum. They show exactly what I'm thinking about adding to my cruising sail. As you can see, the reef consists of a pie-shaped section taken out of the lower part of the sail, and then possibly some adjustment of the gooseneck fore and aft to keep the CE in close to the right position. I would not use the jib, of course.

    To my simple way of thinking, this might work just fine for those rare instances when I run into a spot of bad weather on my trip. What are your thoughts on the idea? Has anyone here done a true reef on their lateen sail?
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  2. danpal

    danpal Active Member

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  3. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    Dan, yes the pics are interesting. The guy who put them up wrote a very interesting book on small boat rig design, and his illustrations are excellent. Much of what I know about practical sail design came from his book. I think the top picture of the boat without a jib is exactly what I want.

    I've used the Jens Rig many a time while racing...... but it's not really applicable for what I want to do. The Jens rig was designed to gain some addtitional control while staying within the racing rules. It does work, but it's not the best solution for sudden bad weather while underway. Since I'm not racing I'm not concerned about the rules.

    The quick release bolt would be a requirement if I added reefing points as shown in the pics.
     
  4. sailcraftri

    sailcraftri Well-Known Member

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    If you reduce the sail as shown in the photos you would actually have to move the gooseneck forward to shift the CE back to where it was on the full sail. Perhaps you would be better off with a lugsail that can be easily reefed. The other issue with this reefed Sunfish sail is that it keeps the CE high and therefore your wind heeling moment remains high. The lugsail approach would drop the CE and thus your wind heeling moment.

    The lugsail can be used with your existing mast and lower boom. Perhaps a shorter upper boom.
     

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  5. minifish2

    minifish2 Active Member

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    If we can entice him back, this forum has one past participant who is among other things THE authority on reefing a Sunfish. He has discussed a few methods he has developed over the years. Back before the internet Odie published a couple of lengthy articles on a true reefing sail he developed, in the Sunfish class newsletter, Windward Leg.

    More recently on this forum, back in 2009 and 2010, he participated in a discussion on a different, simpler arrangement which went under the name Odie Rig here.

    Maybe he'll read this and check in. For anyone who has sailed a Sunfish and somehow never met Odie, he has plenty of experience as a not-large fellow in big winds, and has some serious cred in this department (past NA champ, past Intl. Sunfish Class Assn prez, Sunfish Bible contributor), but for sure his reefing work and testing went well beyond just racing apps.

    That Odie Rig from a few years ago might be worth at least testing out. One version involved running a long halyard tail ovr the 'wrong side' to reduce sail area on starboard tack.

    I've given some thought to Gulf open water passage rig ideas in the past. I might consider a one-foot shortened mast, if I was at all light-weight and concerned about wind build- up. I'm guessing much of the open water would be reaching, and I would probably keep the board up some, even if generally upwind. Use lots of vang for sure, and keep things really tight. Think of the worst case, and keep it all very simple.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
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  6. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    I've looked at the lugsail design, and it is a good prospect. Todd Bradshaw shows a good one in his book that could be made to work with the existing Sunfish mast, and spars. If I decide to make a sail, rather than modify an existing sail, that might be the way to go.

    The Odie Rig sounds interesting, too. If you know of a link where I can see one, please let me know. OR if anyone knows how to contact Odie himself, maybe he could share it with us. I always prefer to work with folks who know what's what, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel since my own wheel-inventing skills are rather iffy sometimes.

    Thanks
     
  7. minifish2

    minifish2 Active Member

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    Try him through this forum - respond to his thread. Below is the link to one of his reef discussions. I would not encourage posting personal contact info for anyone publicly here, but if for some reason you don't get a forum response, write an old fashioned letter c/o perhaps the class office (or check out his profile on the Sunfish class site, which gives hometowns).

    www.sailingforums.com/threads/racing-with-2-reef.16452/

    The Sunfish rig is pretty robust, and with all the sail controls tightened and all fittings reinforced, I would much rather be caught in that in a sudden Gulf squall, perhaps even with Odies reef, than in any of the modded-for-Sunfish lug designs kicking around. I would test those out extensively in heavy air and seas before venturing on a voyage with something like that.

    Check out the Mendelblatt video halfway down this link, where he talks about reefing a bit:

    www.sunfishworlds.com/Sunfish_Worlds/videos.html

    On a more upbeat note, if ou haven't seen it already, check out Florida's kayaking circumnavigation route, complete with coordinates for designating camping, fresh water sources, etc. That has seemed like something to try in a Sunfish some day, perhaps. At least on the FL Gulf section of yourvtrip you will be covered.

    www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/paddling/saltwater.htm
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  8. jeadstx

    jeadstx New Member

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    Blue Heron, you might want to get on the Water Tribe http://www.watertribe.com/ forum site. As I recall, someone attempted the Everglades Challenge in a Sunfish a couple years ago. The Water Tribe requires sailboats to have at least 2 reefs in the sail for the Everglades Challenge. Someone there might be able to get you in touch with that sailor.

    Also, if you are looking for coastal cruising events you might check out the Texas 200 http://www.texas200.com/ or the Florida 120. Both have discussion groups on Facebook. The next Texas 200 in June of 2014 will be easier than the 2013 event as the legs sailed each day will be shorter. In 2014 there will be (at current count) 14 PDR's (Puddle Duck Racers, 8' long x 4' beam). Since they are slower than most of the boats in the fleet, the day's sail will be shortened. The Texas 200 is five days of sailing and four nights of camping. We haven't had a Sunfish try it yet.

    John
     
  9. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    Reefing a Sunfish is a piece of cake. All you need is perhaps a 30 inch piece (maybe longer, I am not positive of the length) of no-stretch outhaul line and another 8 inch piece. Untie the upper outhaul, and pull the sail down the upper spar until the first grommet above the tack is at the connection between the two booms (you may need to untie the halyard.) Use the 8 inch piece of line to tie the grommet to the eyebolts holding the booms together. Use the 30 inch piece to tie the head of the sail to the end cap of the top spar - it should be very tight.

    This works perfectly. There is no need for any grommets or anything else to keep the extra sail close to the bottom boom.
     
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  10. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    thanks for your replies. they've all been helpful.

    Jeadstx- I know the Watertribe quite well. The Everglades event has been in the back of my mind for a while now. The TX200 also seems interesting. Is it a water-only event, or will there be portages required?

    Beldar- I know the reef method you are referring to, and it does work fine for around the bouys racing. Out of all the "standard" Sunfish reefing techniques, this is probably the best. Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to work for me. I need something that I can quickly rig and unrig while underway..... possibly in bad weather. I can't see how I'd tie the 30" piece of line to the top spar endcap without hanging out over the stern. Also, the reduction in sail area is not enough. For what I'll be doing, I'll need a 20 to 25% reduction in area to be safe.

    All- I spoke with my sailmaker at length about reefing points yesterday, and he recommends the pie-shaped reef shown in the illustartions above. He did a rough CE calc, and thinks the shift will not be significant enough to be a problem. So unless I find a better method, that's how I'll go.
     
  11. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    It is actually easy to do this on the fly. Put a clam cleat on either your top spar or your bottom spar, and put an extra stainless s hook at the junction of the two booms. Instead of the 30 inch line at the head of the sail, use a really long line from the head of the sail, to the endcap, and to the boom cleat (if the boom cleat is on the lower spar,route the long line throug the tack grommet.) To reef, release the long line so the head drops. Take the first grommet above the tack and hook it to the s-hook. Pull on the long line again to tighten the luff. Done.

    That said, it will not give you a 25% sail reduction, but I really don't see why you need more than that that will give. Plus, I think you were incorrect in dismissing the Jens rig. It significantly depowers the rig by allowing the upper spar to bend off. If you Jens and reef, you will have lots of depowering. It happens to be class-legal for racing, but it is highly effective whether you are cruising or racing.
     
  12. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    Beldar, you make a good point. I certainly don't want to pass up a viable option, especially one that doesn't cost anything. Next time I'm out, I'll rig it and see how well it works. thanks.
     
  13. jeadstx

    jeadstx New Member

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    Blue Heron, the Tx200 does not have any portages. Several sailors on the Tx200 have also sailed the Everglades Challenge.
     
  14. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Did you mean, "Rocks"? :eek:

    Though I've never tried this...at the bow handle, you could fashion—and attach—a plastic anchor "holder" for a 5-pound mushroom anchor. (Plastic "Tide" container, with the bottom cut out, secured by the built-in handle).

    Given a weather forecast and enough time at a campsite, you could switch over to a Mini-Fish sail. :cool:

    I got caught in a "squall"—stood in knee-deep water—held onto my Sunfish and watched as the mast broke, sail shredded, and the rigging sank to the bottom. :oops: It's always something with the weather—and this is a lake! :confused:
     
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  15. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    Fortunately, no.... there aren't many rocks on the coast along the Northern Gulf Coast. For most of the Appalachicola to New Orleans run it's white sandy beaches, but once you get passed Pass Christian going west, between the Pearl River and Lake Pontchartrain, it turns into salt marshes that go right out to the water's edge.... that harbor wonderful creatures like alligators, water moccasins, gar-fish, and mosquitos in such numbers that they've been known to carry away small dogs. For several stretches leading to the Rigolets there are very few good spots to land in the event of bad weather, so the only real options are to anchor until the weather blows over, or reef the sail and keep going.

    However, don't think that particular area is just a nasty wasteland, because it's not. It can be astoundingly beautiful at times. It's a birder's paradise at certain times of the year, and there are more fish there than probably anywhere else on the planet. On a foggy morning, it feels like you are thousand years in the past.... in a here-to-fore undiscovered place. It's really cool.
     
  16. odegaard

    odegaard cAPTN oDIE

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    I actually added reef points to an old sail and it worked just fine to de-power. I proposed this to the Class but it did not go anywhere. You can rig a reef by just having a long uphaul on the upper spar; removing the sail clips near the halyard attachmennt, and just down haul using your Cunningham- of course you do have to lower the rig to adjust up haul. Just let the sail flap at the foot, i.e. no reefing lines needed. ANother way to de-power without dropping the rig is as follows: While keeping down tension on the halyard, move it from the stbd. side of the sail to the port side (move fwd and around tack of sail/spars) With the halyard now on the port side it will disturb the powerful stbd. sail leading edge and flatten the sail as it is on port tack when the sail normally hits the mast.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
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  17. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Member

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    Thanks all for your input.

    After reading all of your suggestions, I did a number of trials out in the bay under high-wind conditions. Last week-end we had a cold front come through, with 18-20 knot winds which was perfect for what I wanted to test. As I expected, none of the "class legal" reefing schemes worked very well when applied out on the water. All of them worked just fine when you set them up whilst at the dock, but trying to rig some of them out while underway, with both waves and wind to deal with was downright scary. Sure.... some of them might work on a lake or bay, but in less-than-protected waters they simply aren't safe.

    After my tests, I'd never risk using one of those systems..... they are makeshift improvisations designed more to meet the racing rules, and not really applicable for voyaging. Also, none of the schemes are acceptable for the various Adventure Races (like the Everglades Challenge) which require two real reefing points.

    So.... that pretty well clinches it in my mind. If you are going to venture out into open or semi-protected waters, then you need a more positive reefing system than the "class legal" systems.

    Again, thank you all for your input.
     
  18. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    One can still add one (big) reefing point to the standard sail, or do a "switch-over" ashore to a smaller lateen sail, say, of 45 square feet or so.

    I've gone pretty fast with no sail! :confused:

    Anyone tried a narrow staysail from the masthead to the bow handle? :)
     
  19. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    Have you thought of buying a weather radio and just not heading out when it sounds like it may get too windy for you to sail safely?

    Your only other choice might be to do what Minifish II recommends. The picture you show with the red and white sail would probably result in an uncontrollable situation with a Sunfish. The center of effort would be even higher than in an unreefed sail, which would likely make the boat less stable rather than more and make effective sheeting very difficult. I guess your last option (and probably the best now that I think about it) would be to buy an old Super Sunfish rig, install reefing points and a jiffy reefing system (mandatory on a small, tippy boat like a Sunfish if you want to reef on the water), and off you go.
     
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  20. jeadstx

    jeadstx New Member

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    The original subject of this post was camp cruising a Sunfish, which is why the subject of reefing came up. It is always good to carry a VHF radio to pick up weather info or to call for rescue if need be. But, when camp cruising, if the weather report says it is windier than you feel comfortable in you can't always just wait it out until the winds are more favorable. On the south Texas coast (South of Corpus Christi) there is very little civilization. It is not an area that you would want to stranded until wind conditions are suitable. Reefing the sail just might be neccessary. On the Texas 200, the 42 mile stretch from Port Isabel to Port Mansfield is devoid of civilization for the most part, no resupply of water/food or repair facilities.

    The Everglades Challenge in Florida (300 mile race on west coast of Florida) requires sailboats to have two reef points minimum in their sail. Anyone planning distance sailing of a Sunfish should have reefing capability.

    John
     
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