Reefing furling main while running down wind?

Dec 1, 2020
26
Hunter 44 DS Deale, MD
Hi, I'm still getting used to the furling main on my 44 DS. The short version of my question is can I furl in the main while running down wind? Or how much wind is too much to do this?

So, wind from behind was slowing building all afternoon, then pretty quickly (and not forecast) went from 15 to 18 and eventually 25 kts. I went from loving it at 15 to wanting to get the sails reefed pretty quickly. Getting the jib in was no problem. All my previous experience said to head up into the wind to reef the main. Was not fun seeing 25 kts on the beam with the full main up as we came around (with motor running) but the boat handled it fine. (Wife was less impressed).

So, could I take the load out of the sail by centering it and running dead down wind and furl in the main that way?

Other suggestions for that situation?

Thanks!
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,775
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Sailed in conditions almost exactly like that yesterday in the San Francisco Bay........I left the marina with full mainsail, set the reefing winch set to "Ratchet" to mitigate the risk of the sail inadvertently unfurling out of the mast during reefing, and reefed head sail with winds initially 16-19 knots then increasing to 21+ knots while crossing the slot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Once I crossed the slot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and passed the lee side of Yerba Buena Island I reefed the mainsail while on a starboard tack in anticipation of heavier wind during the return trip on a port tack.

To answer your question........depower the head sail by furling it in or reefing it as you did, put the boat on a starboard tack and broach reach, center the mainsail to depower it (boom into the wind) then furl it in.

Helpful thread on reefing a furling main: Reefing a Main with in-mast Furling... | YBW Forum
 
Last edited:
Mar 6, 2008
690
Catalina 1999 C36 MKII #1787 Coyote Point Marina, CA.
Seems that you can blow the main and let the boom lineup with the wind. This will be the same as going into wind. Loosen boomvang and lift the boom then furl in the main. I have traditional main with slugs, but I reef in a similar way. I do not believe you can reef when wind is blowing on it.
Haro
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,087
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Furling a sail filled with the breeze makes for a tight wrap. Is there enough furling line wraps to get the sail completely furled?
Furling with the sail under the strain of the wind will transfer that strain to your furling system. The first 1/3 of the sail is always the most difficult to get wrapped under pressure.

As a general rule, relieving the pressure on the sail before starting to furl a sail will give your furling system a long and helpful life. Keeping the system clean and smooth running will allow you to more easily furl your sail while under the strain of bad wind conditions.

This last segment of the Yachting Monthly video shares images of damage to the furler and fore stay when poor maintenance or furling under strained conditions occurs and goes bad...
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,073
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
If I understand the OP's question, my answer would be that you cannot furl the main going downwind except in the lightest conditions. If the boom is let out on a close reach or even a beam reach (Not likely possible on a B&R rig with swept back spreaders) until the sail flogs you can probably furl it. It won't be that different than heading into the wind.
 
Dec 1, 2020
26
Hunter 44 DS Deale, MD
Thanks for the thoughts everyone. I'm going to try sail sfbay's procedure in a light wind situation to try it out. I know I'll have to be very careful about an accidental gybe. The YBW forum link was interesting too about the different ways people use the ratchet setting.

It will be interesting to see how much wind is too much for this technique.

Thanks again!
 
Sep 11, 2011
330
Hunter 41AC Bayfield WI, Lake Superior
I do it all the time. Let the out haul out about 4-6 feet, then gently reef the sail. Some times it takes multiple steps to get the sail size where you want it. By letting the out haul out the sail depowers and can be wound in.

Try it. If you do not like what you are seeing you can always luff and then wind it in.
 
Aug 12, 2018
132
Hunter 26 Carter Lake, Colorado
Will your boat heave to?

Would that give you a workable furler angle without (too much) load on the main?
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,775
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Will your boat heave to? Would that give you a workable furler angle without (too much) load on the main?
Not sure who the question was for.....I am sure the boat can heave to but have never found a need to or tried that to furl in the mainsail. The technique we use on my sailboat is depower the head sail first, put the boat on a starboard tack with the boom sheeted in loosely, vang loose, then furl the mainsail in to reef it. We almost always reef at some point every time we take the sailboat out in the San Francisco Bay, especially in the summer.
 
Last edited:
Feb 21, 2013
3,775
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
...........I'm going to try sail sfbay's procedure in a light wind situation to try it out. I know I'll have to be very careful about an accidental gybe. The YBW forum link was interesting too about the different ways people use the ratchet setting. It will be interesting to see how much wind is too much for this technique......
Let us know how that works. No risk of an accidental jib with the boom centered on a broad reach. Key is furling the mainsail in on a starboard tack.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Aug 12, 2018
132
Hunter 26 Carter Lake, Colorado
Not sure who the question was for but never have. I am sure the boat can heave to but have never tried that to furl in the mainsail. The technique we use on my sailboat is depower the head sail first, put the boat on a starboard tack with the boom sheeted in loosely, vang loose, then furl the mainsail in to reef it. We almost always reef at some point every time we take the sailboat out in the San Francisco Bay, especially in the summer.
My question was directed at the original poster.

Heaving to is a good time-out in many conditions, if the boat will do it.

Even if the furling is not the best while hove to, it could be a safe way to get things under control, to be sorted out later.
 
Dec 1, 2020
26
Hunter 44 DS Deale, MD
Hi, OP here. Yes, boat will heave-to. I've practiced that in lower winds. I'll have to try it in 15+ to see how it handles.

Certainly a good way to give myself a chance to think.

Thanks.
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,584
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
The other option is to get behind some land mass or even one of the larger commercial boats anchored in the Chessy. We did that once near the Solomons and most of the loose stuff below found the cabin floor as we rounded the point. I don’t know if there’s a school for learning that look, but most wives have it down pat.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Feb 21, 2013
3,775
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
The other option is to get behind some land mass............
Interestingly you said that!!.....that is exactly what we did last Sunday (post #2). After sailing across the slot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with full mainsail sailed on the lee side of Yerba Buena Island where the wind dropped from 21+ knots to < 10 kts and where the wind was light enough to reef the mainsail with minimal effort while still on a starboard tack. In fact, most of the time we sail to the lee side of Yerba Buena Island, Angle Island, Tiburon, San Francisco city front, Sausalito or north of the San Rafael bridge where the wind speed drops sufficiently to reef the mainsail with minimal effort.
 
  • Like
Likes: All U Get