Reefing point suggestions needed

Thread starter #1
Hello Gang,

I just got my jiffy reefing kit from Sailrite, they raised the price a bit but it is still a good deal, and I am looking for suggestions on where to set the reefing point. We sail in the Gulf of Mexico and the winds usually range from 8 to 15 kts. The last time we went out was great fun for me and rather scary for my wife. We almost went over in a gust. I was holding the mainsheet and let it out as soon as we started to heel over but a little loop caught in the pulley and held the main in long enough to put the starboard side in the water. The loop popped out as I was reaching for the centerboard and we righted. I sailed to a small island, took down the sails and we motored back to the launch ramp.

My wife didn't like the excitement and hasn't wanted to go back out since so reefing the main is my way to keep things less adventurous. I have assured her that this will make everything better. I want to put the reefing point high enough to calm things down but I am concerned that if I go too high, the jib will overpower the main and make for difficult steering.

We are in our narrow window of great weather, no afternoon storms and not too hot and I want to get out now. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Reefing Cringle Points

Rayhas: The kit says a little below lowest batten. Someone once wrote about 4 feet above the foot and that worked out OK for me. When using, its best to reef before you leave shore as it is easy to remove the reef while aboard and the wind dies, but difficult to place a reef on a C14.2 when the wind rips.

Another thing you can do when caught out and wind strengthens, is lower the jib. If you raised the jib initially with a small (ca. 1/8 in) downhaul threaded thru the hanks and fed back to the mast area, then its quite easy to pull it down. Its hard to tack in a strong wind with no jib, but with momentum it usualy can be done. RK

In my C-14 manual, the suggested height of the reefing cringles is 27". I bought the Sailrite kit and if my memory isn't messing up, I put mine in around 34". It's good to know the sailboat still moves with them installed at 48".

RK is correct in that it's very difficult to reef the mainsail out on the water. Unfortunately the one time we really needed to cut the sail area we were at least a 1/2 mile from shore. The boat capsized when the wind got over 20 knots and my wife hasn't been very happy with the whole sailing thing ever since. To ease her feelings towards the wind suddenly getting stronger while out on the water, I installed a Baby Bob atop the mast and the reefing rig. We practice reefing while underway which helps boost her confidence, and to be honest, it helps mine, too.

The hardest part (for me, anyway) about reefing on the water is pulling in the outboard reefing line. The main sheet has to be loose and when the wind starts climbing, the sail flogs violently, making the whole operation very tricky. With that in mind, I altered the Sailrite kit to pull down the mainsail both fore and aft at the same time by installing an additional cheek block on the boom near the gooseneck. The outboard reefing line is threaded along the boom, through this extra block, and then through the forward cringle. In essence, both ends of the sail are brought down using one line instead of two. I also put in a mast stop below the gooseneck so while I'm lowering the mainsail halyard, the boom doesn't drop.

Here is our procedure and I practice it every time we go out if the wind looks like it might cause problems:

Step 1) On a starboard tack, heave-to the C-14 by coming about, leaving the jib cleated to port (backing the jib) and pushing the tiller to starboard while releasing the mainsheet. This slows the boat into a stable position. Then I have my wife, or whoever else is crewing, take over the tiller while I go forward to the mast.

Step 2) I pull on the reefing line while simultaneously dropping the main halyard. With a little practice, it's pretty easy to keep the boom level. The reefing line essentially takes over as the Cunningham and when it's tight, re-secure the halyard.

Step 3) Secure the two intermediate reefing ties. The forward tie is pretty easy but the outboard tie is sometimes hanging too far off the boat so it's secured while underway by the crew on a close reach.

Step 4) If the wind continues to build, have the crew drop (furl?) the jib. The C-14 sails pretty well on just a reefed mainsail and it sure beats taking a swim, if you catch my drift.

Here are some pics of my reefing rig. Follow the red line from outboard to mast.

As you can see, I also bought a yard of pink sail cloth to sew over Sailrite's white reinforcement pieces. If your sail is other than white, you can do the same.

Hope this helps and let me know if you want any hi-res pics.
The reefing system you are using is the way to go JGM , however, I would suggest a topping lift or boomkicker to help you out when easing the mainsail halyard as you reef.

Great pictures , always a plus!


C14.2 #1174
Reefing with a Boomkicker?

So, I believe Rob answered my question, but can you guys verify that the boomkicker works with the Sailrite reefing system and doesn't cause any problems?
The Boomkicker will not interfere with the reefing system , it fits in a cradle that slides under the boom .

The Boomkicker requires a Vang , I have had "crew" grumble of the vang getting in the way tacking and have seen them removed on other 14.2's probably because of that complaint .


C14.2 #1174
Also to get back on topic , while reefing is an reduction in sail area it also important that it lowers the center of effort of the sail . the numbers mentioned above would all work depending on the situtation . Wind force is exponential , the force on a sail from 5 to 10 is vastly different from wind in the 15 to 20 range . at 10 mph our ~70 sq ft main has 35 pounds of force applied to it when it pipes up to 20 mph, that increases to 120 pounds .

If I was sailing in a region where I knew the wind could reach over 20 I would consider the 48" reef point .


C14.2 #1174
The reefing system you are using is the way to go JGM , however, I would suggest a topping lift or boomkicker to help you out when easing the mainsail halyard as you reef.
Hey Rob,
Thanks for the suggestion. I've considered installing a boomkicker but we have to trailer every time we want to go sailing and like a topping lift, it's a hinderance to getting on and off the water. Actually, it's not that hard lowering the main while pulling down the reefing line. As everything else, it just takes a little practice. ;)

Thanks again,
I like keeping things easy too Jim , less time on the ramp = more time on the water = more fun!

Sounds like you have the drill down Jim , for those less experienced , my topping lift is attached to a carabiner that I hook to the padeye of the outhaul block . I use it mainly for the hoisting of the mainsail. Once up, I can unclip and stow on the mast . I don't ( can't ) reef my 14.2 however on my C22 , I have marked my halyard at the reef point (s) . I can drop my sail to that point then pull in my reefing line , the topping lift makes it much easier and safer , as I have one hand free for the expected unexpected.

Mark the halyard above the halyard cleat - I align it with something permanent on the mast, I use the lower sail measurement band .

the topping lift makes it much easier and safer , as I have one hand free for the expected unexpected.

Mark the halyard above the halyard cleat - I align it with something permanent on the mast, I use the lower sail measurement band .
This is really a good point. So far I've only "practiced" my routine when the wind has been manageable. Lowering the main halyard while tugging on the reefing line might be a bit problematic when the waves start breaking over the bow. Right now I'm comfortable with the complexity of my setup, but if happenstance ends up tossing me overboard, look for a mea culpa shortly thereafter. ;)

thanks for the help

I was just logging in to ask this same question. I encountered the exact same problem with to much sail and was looking to see what the reefing point should be for the main.

I do not have a rig for reefing and was planning on placing grommets across the main at a specific level in order to use. My thought is to set them around 34" from the boom with about 4 grommets.

Thank you all again for the information. If any of you have other recommendations for my idea let me know.
Thread starter #12
I am glad we went with 48 inches for the reefing points. On the first test sail, the winds were very light at under 10 knots but I wanted to test the reefing setup. Along came a gust that would have flattened us it I didn't have the reefing in.

Our kit has only 2 reefing grommets. One at the luff and one at the leech with two intermediate loops for tying up the loose sail in between.
Hi Jim,

Was the length of the reefing line supplied with the Jiffy Reefing Kit long enough for your adjustment? Basically I got the kit from Sailrite and I'm planning to do the same adjustment like you but I'm suspecting that the line will not be long enough.

Thanks for the idea and the pictures.

Hi Jim,

Was the length of the reefing line supplied with the Jiffy Reefing Kit long enough for your adjustment?

Hi Ahmed,
If I remember correctly, the line supplied with the Sailrite kit was long enough but it was too heavy for the application so I substituted a thinner line.

Hope this helps,


Sailing on Shelter Bay
Cool thread, I enjoyed reading it. I was surprised at having reefing points up 48". Remember that you have several things going for you when you reef. The center of effort is lower so the moment arm that is trying to tip you over (the lever) is not nearly so long. So not only the force on the sail area, but the mechanics of the lever arm are in your favor. It would be a pretty small handkerchief, it seems to me, with 4 feet of the biggest part of the sail down. I have found my Omega sails (and points) quite nicely on main only, which is how I brought it into the downwind dock today. Jim
Those reefs look nice, very clean work!

As for the benefits of topping lift versus boom kicker? Honestly if you are on a wave-prone water either one will keep sail shape as the boat pounds around in light air. On these boats the topping lift is likely easier to deal with rigging and derigging, and is likely the only downside of one versus the other. I never had the full jiffy reefing kit (one line system), merely had to drop the tack down, attach it at the boom, and yank on the reefing line on the aft end of the boom to pull the clew in. I agree in a pinch dropping the jib helps to depower some. Also if you can vang on hard, and sheet hard to flatten the sail more, off wind, keep that vang on real hard flatten that main. If you are still overpowered, then reef, and get that jib back up. about 30% of that boat's drive is in the jib, and helps to remove some of the weather helm as things start to get dicey. Agreed 48" might be overkill, unless you sail a lot in 20+. Also, don't underestimate weight from crew, that's your ballast as it has none.

SHNOOL whose primary mission is to keeping having fun while sailing.