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Considering making sails smaller

Roy Graves

New Member
I am considering sending my sails to a sail shop to have both the mainsail and furling jib made smaller. Does anyone have any experience in using sails that are smaller than the standard size?

Reason for change:
I am an inland sailer. On many days the windspeed can be 15 to 25 mph. With high winds, and my low body weight, the standard sail size is way too large. I already have reef points in the mainsail, to reduce the sail area to 70 percent of the full sail area. Secondly, even with the jib partially furled, a gust will unfurl most of the sail except the bottom section of the jib. My experience is that with high winds, the current sail area is too large.

The Plan:
To have a sail shop cut the sails, to make them smaller:
1) reduce jib area to 70 percent of the standard area
2) reduce the mainsail area by 70 percent of the standard sail area, plus put reefing points in at 50 percent of the original mainsail area.

Question:
Does a 70 percent sail area sound reasonable for both the jib and the mainsail?

Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank-you for the help.
Roy
 

Mooseman

New Member
Cutting Sails ?

Cutting sails, Hmmm.

Not sure this is a good idea.
First, once you reduce the surface area by cutting, you can never get it back. In light air you might miss the extra Sq. footage.

Second, it costs money to modify the sails. Sometimes the modification bill might suggest that it's a better idea to make new "Reduced Size" sails, and keep the old ones for light air.

Third, balance can be affected by the smaller sail's center point. This would most likely be slight, but detectable.

Just some things to think about. If it were me I would take an extra friend for ballast and standby with the mainsheet in hand.

Mooseman....Out....
 

rkrebill

Member
2nd Reef Points?

Roy: You might want to try installing a second set of reefing points on the main sail. Sailrite sells a kit that can be done by yourself if you have the time and a little skill. I'm not familiar with your furling jib, but is there someway to increase the spring tension so that it wouldn't be pulled out in strong winds? And don't be slow in easing the sheets during gusts. Dick K.
 

JGM

Member
Hi Roy,
I'm inclined to agree with the others. Cutting down perfectly good sails would be the last resort. After we turtled on our first outing last year, in 24 knot winds, I installed a Baby Bob to keep the mast from sinking, and Sailrite's Jiffy reefing rig to cut down on sail area. I never want to have a day like that again. :eek:

The reefing kit is pretty straightforward if you have a zig-zag sewing machine and can invest half a day to install. Or you can have a sailmaker handle it. I don't know the exact percentage of sail area reduction but 70% seems in the ball park.

After installation, we took it out and rehearsed various scenarios for dealing with sudden high winds. Sailrite uses a 2-line approach, reefing the clew before reefing the tack. That proved awkward to reef while underway, so I converted it to a single line which tightens down both grommets simultaneously. The line is cleated at the mast near the main halyard.

And counter to normally accepted lore, I found that reefing the sail underway is easier than loosening the reef points and restoring the full sail area. The former only requires two hands while the latter seems to need three.

To reef underway, just heave to with the jib backed to the port side and the tiller tied to starboard; the mainsail flogs. Go forward, release the main halyard while pulling the reefing line. It's a bit tricky at first which is why you practice it a couple times on relatively calm days before you need it.

I haven't tried it in winds over 15 knots yet, but the experience at 12 knots left me feeling pretty confident of maintaining control when the situation gets hairy. I don't have a furling jib so my only recourse to further reduce sail area is to douse the jib completely. After some experimentation, it turns out the C-14 sails pretty well on only a reefed main sail, albeit quite slowly. :(

I can post some pictures of my reefing rig if you're interested. Hope this helps.
Jim
 

Roy Graves

New Member
Thank-you for all the help

I would like to thank everyone who offered advice.

Sounds like some good ideas.

Much appreciated.
Roy
 

Moves Like Silk

New Member
Reefing

JGM said:
The reefing kit is pretty straightforward if you have a zig-zag sewing machine and can invest half a day to install. Or you can have a sailmaker handle it. I don't know the exact percentage of sail area reduction but 70% seems in the ball park.

After installation, we took it out and rehearsed various scenarios for dealing with sudden high winds. Sailrite uses a 2-line approach, reefing the clew before reefing the tack. That proved awkward to reef while underway, so I converted it to a single line which tightens down both grommets simultaneously. The line is cleated at the mast near the main halyard.

And counter to normally accepted lore, I found that reefing the sail underway is easier than loosening the reef points and restoring the full sail area. The former only requires two hands while the latter seems to need three.



I can post some pictures of my reefing rig if you're interested. Hope this helps.
Jim
Jim,

I'd sure love to see some detailed photos of your reefing rig. I sail singlehandedly a lot and find myself capsizing far too often! Maybe reefing would be a great plan for me!

Thanks,

Marti
 

JGM

Member
Test

Hi Marti,
I've tried twice to post a reply and it never showed up. I even contacted the webmaster and domain name holder about the problem and received no reply. Maybe it's working now...

Jim
 

JGM

Member
Pictures of Reefing Rig

Hi Marti,
It looks like the board is working again. Here are some pics of the installation on my C-14.



An overview of the bunched sail; the red line is the reefing line.
Hi Res Image Link


Port side, rearward boom, the eye strap is provided by Sailrite, the stainless snap came from Lowes for about $4.
Hi Res Image Link

Let's see if this works too.
 
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