more reefing talk: the voices of experience - Dick Harrington, Ralph Roberts, Ken Jensen et al.

----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Walden (W1395)
To: Al Schonborn ; Richard Johnson ; William Waller ; Dick Harrington
Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 2:29 PM
Subject: hatch gasket question

Hello, Al, Dick, Bill and Richard.
Wanted to thank you for your advice about the boat. ...

I'm going to send in my sail to a local loft to put in a 2nd set of reef-points, for when I'm cruising-exploring solo (or with my little children).
... Gotta run.  Kids want to go walk the dog in this cold weather!


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 11:30 AM

Hi, Chris:
... Regarding your 2nd set of reef points, let me highly recommend that instead of a double-reefed main, you use a/the genoa as a trysail, an idea pioneered by Ken Jensen - see for his articles. There, you also have a link to pictures taken of the trysail I had Heider Funck make for me and to which my Ches. Cruise partner, Hans Gottschling (our cover maker) insisted on making a little boom (which is not truly necessary. Especially if you're going to sail solo, I think the trysail is a lot simpler (and neater-looking than most reef jobs!!) solution than a second reef (or even a first). You might also enjoy, the Ches. Cruise page where I describe our trysail experience in what was supposed to be a blow and eventually was! I can't recall if I mentioned it there, but in case I didn't: After we saw Tony with his broken rudder halfway out of the harbour at Smith, Hans and I had to beat back to the Marina up a very narrow (50 to 100 feet?) channel (water very wide, navigable part with board down much narrower!), and doing this under trysail, even in moderate winds worked a treat!!! To sum it up, if I were going to mostly single-hand, I would ditch the entire reefing process and use the trysail as my sole sail-shortening alternative. Always noting that no one has tried the trysail upwind in huge waves and survival conditions, (though I can see no reason which it shouldn't work then, either).
Must rush. Regattas captions call.
Best regards,
Uncle Al  (W3854)

----- Original Message -----
To: Al Schonborn ; Chris Walden ; Richard Johnson ; William Waller ; Tom Erickson ; Tom Graefe ; Ralph Roberts ; Jim Heffernan ; KEN/K.H.Jensen
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 1:41 PM

Al & Chris,
... Second reef vs. trysail.  Ken Jensen lives where the wind blows strong more frequently.  He also likes to fish a lot while sailing.....thus, no boom and no trailing sheets is a great benefit.  If the wind is strong but the seas aren't too big, the trysail is a good sail.  It gets put on before departing the safe haven.  My cruising experience is that when it is blowing hard enough to call for putting in two reefs, or a trysail, I don't want to be heading out.  On the other hand, I've been caught out with one reef when things became uneasy to the point that I wanted to put in the second reef.  It can be done quickly and easily, while taking down the main and changing over to a trysail would have been disastrous. 

In the process of reducing sail with increasing wind strength the following is my normal progression (single handed):

  1. At about 17-18 knots--reef main but hold genoa.
  2. At about 20 knots--change over to smaller jib.
  3. At about 25 knots--double reef main, possibly take off small jib (boat will be suffering slight or more lee helm with jib).
  4. Over 25 knots--small jib only if not in danger of a lee shore.

If you are in a position where you can get into good protection to change sail, then the trysail is a good alternative to (3) & (4).

A second reef is a must if you are planning to do serious cruising.  The trysail is a luxury. 

... the trysail a luxury? not so, says Ken Jensen (and I agree!)
----- Original Message -----
From: KEN/K.H.Jensen (W1348)
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 5:08 PM
Subject: Hatch gasket/W-trysail

Hi, All !
The gasket I leave to YOU, good W-friends, and save my breath for reefing/W-trysail comments. As hinted at by DICK, truly our waters, the North Sea - Ralph will witness to that - the Skagerack, Kattegat (put a lot of respect into Frank Dye back in 1968 !) and the Baltic Sea can be quite windy places with rough, choppy seas (fairly low depth water, shorter wave length, steep seas).
Well, please let me ask You, W-gentlemen (and kindly do remember I speak Cruising Configuration, Equipment and Technique) a few questions to clarify the picture:
  1. Who of you have experienced using a W-trysail (Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing got us onto it back in 1968) in heavy conditions, big seas and 30+ knots?
  2. If you suddenly have 36 - 40 knots falling out of the sky would you not remove all sails?  Including the main promtly (some will be too late, and a couple here took shelter under the mainsail of their capsized W. to protect themselves from very big and icy hail pellets) and an already roller-reefed/furled down on the boom main-sail is safely and fairly easily packed down and stowed/secured. Does this sound factual or not?
  3. It seems to me that the vanged/kicked down boom [with 'baggy' reefed mainsail - (much less problem with proper roller-reefed one) - wind-catching+flopping] of the double-reef is forgotten with regard to its excellent ability to dip and catch the waves ?!
  4. The Wayfarer is a boat, a small ship that can stay a'hull, no sails (see # 2 - perhaps using a drogue) can run/do 5 knots under a bare pole [in front of a *roll-cloud* (a scary sight) bulldozed forward by a thunderstorm], while bending on the W-trysail, naturally all other sails being secured. 
  5. Is it possible that nearly all of YOU - bar Ralph - are mostly racing people with racing equipment being used also for cruising!  Well, that is quite different from the really quick, and flash-functional (like *greased lightning*) well-rubbed-in procedure and equipment used by the W-Cruiser (especially the single-handed one)?
  6. Lastly I'll be candid and ask: Do we have a situation like an unspoken/hidden "Just don't try to 'cantonize' me!  Cause I got my ideas+ways and stick to them!" 
Re. this # 6. above, my hands on my heart (the Bible is a nice book!) I may have kind of reached now, but I am happy not to have suffered from it before. So many ideas have been tested for proper W-seaman-handling, some picked up, and many thrown out due to too little W-seamanship and functionality given!  Go ahead test, train and improve yourself,  and let any feasible idea forwarded be given a fair chance before you decide if it is too dangerous for your use/ability!  Our W-trysail(s) have saved the day many times since 1968, and cannot be termed a luxury, 40 years of use proves that, and it is a MUST for serious W-seaman-Cruising to cope with bad weather, and sudden rough conditions with a better safety-margin.  The Vikings never ventured out in bad weather, except if they absolutely had to!
Best regards

... a great day for the trysail??
Ken also sent in the following pictures, the first three taken while sailing under trysail:

Marked Seas

"They're passing us!"

Uninviting lee shore - 1

Uninviting lee shore - 2

Gale force winds outside

... and the ultimate voice of experience on reefing:

----- Original Message -----
From: Ralph Roberts
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 11:04 AM

Hi All,

Just to add my two-penny worth to the reefing discussion - for anyone not aware of my cruising pedigree, (as there are a few names I don't recognise), I have fairly extensive cruising experience, including a few trips across the North Sea, being UK based - unless you are sailing off wind, as soon as you put a reef in the main, the genoa should also be reefed, or changed to a jib. A reefed main and genoa, when sailing to windward, is a totally unbalanced sail configuration, and makes the sailing in stronger winds not only much more difficult, but is also more likely to cause a capsize. 
I have always carried a jib with me on my cruises to enable me to shorten the foresail, but have decided this winter to investigate the possibility of changing my genoa furling system into a genoa reefing system, as this certainly simplifies the problem of reducing the foresail. I will report back if I find I am successful!

Best wishes, Ralph

... and from Tom Graefe:
----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Graefe (W9668)
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 9:20 PM

Hi all,

... Regarding reefing, I think the discussion so far has captured options and preferences.  I use single reefing and am rigged for double reefing.  I also have a jib to go with the genoa.  When I get around to it, I will rig and try a try-sail. 
I think Ton has a system with reefing furler on his headsail and uses a single deeper reef in the main, and that sounds like a good deal, if you can get the right reefing furler.  Very convenient combination for cruising.
If someone already pointed out Ton's system, sorry for the redundancy. 


Tom G. W9668

----- Original Message -----
From: Ton Jaspers (W10445)
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 5:27 PM
Subject: reefing

Hi all,
There are several threads about the Bartels reefing spar on the UKWA forum. Have a look here.

By now the Bartels Wayfarer spar has been used successfully by several sailors. Even Ralph Roberts ordered one AFAIK. By now Bartels should have a standard package available for us Wayfarers, just ask for the Wayfarer furler.
Dave Barker from the UK has written a beautiful essay about his set-up that will be published in the UK W-news and I suppose on their web site too. It would make a nice addition to the WIT site as well (wink,wink,nudge,nudge,know-what-I-mean?). Since Dave's essay has not been published on the Internet AFAIK, I can't forward it to you, please ask Dave about it (copied).   
The above should cover most of it. If you have specific questions I will be happy to answer (what else does a Wayfarer do during Winter?).
Best wishes,

Ton Jaspers (W10445 - Swiebertje)

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 2:16 PM

Friends: Ken, Ton (Swiebertje), Ralph, Tom, Al & All,
It is again great fun (absolutely no pun!) to get all your fine opinions.  But knowing you all so well, I admit to no big surprises. 
Having enjoyed many e-mail exchanges with Ken, and being blessed to spend several days with him on W1348 sailing the very seas he talks about, I have great respect for his seamanship and advice.  Were I planning an adventure into one of Norway's magnificent fjords I would attempt to do exactly as he says.  Though being set in my ways, I feel much more comfortable with center-boom sheeting and slab reefing than boom-end sheeting and rolling in a reef.  As with Tom Graefe, I have also devised an adaptation for using the genoa as a trysail, but am still awaiting the time when I feel it is time to use it.  I think much of the reason is due to differing sailing conditions experienced here as opposed to those in the Scandinavian countries and British waters.
I knew that Ralph would take issue with the combination of reefed main & genoa.  The difference, as I see it, comes with the size of the no.1 slab reef as well as the individual characteristics of one's boat.  My first reef (which is just below the first batten) certainly is considerably smaller than Ton's on Swiebertje (which is well above the batten).  On Swiebertje I would agree that carrying the genoa should definitely result in a strong and unsafe lee helm.  However, with Blue Mist this does not occur (Tom and others have sailed with me using this configuration without expressing any concern).  So it is possible that my mast rake and/or set of the CB is slightly different than others....maybe the reason I don't win many races!  I believe individuals need to try different sail combinations to find out for themselves what suits them best.
I can also back up everything Ton says about his jib furling/reefing gear.  Margie and I loved using it in Friesland during the '07 rally.  We had the experience of sailing in plenty of strong winds the first couple of days and it worked like a charm.  Were she to still be here, I would probably have had to buy one by now.  However, in the meantime I remain a stubborn old man and still use my two-jib combination.  This is manageable only if both are already hanked on at the tack fitting.  Only a fool climbs out onto the bow in wind and waves to change a jib.
Very well done, all of you.

----- Original Message -----
From: Ton
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 4:46 PM

Hi Dick and everyone else,
I am happy to report, Dick, that the lee helm has largely gone. With some help from Jesper Friis, the mast setup was changed  at the Rantzausminde Rally this year and Swiebertje already sails much better. You are correct in your observation that the mast trim was the main culprit. It turned out that the new spreaders are geometrically different from the old ones, You must have noticed they point significantly more upward. This in combination with the chain plates being further out compared to a woody  means the "magic numbers" are totally different. Basically it is a geometric problem and better "magic numbers" could be calculated, but as always, good trim is a matter of trial and error and the feeling in the seat of my pants, and the boat speed compared to other boats of course.  
Though Ian Porter set up the shrouds according to common knowledge and applied the "magic numbers", because of the changed spreaders and the different chain plate position on a Plus-S, what happened was that with tension and vang on the spreaders started to pull the mast back instead of pushing it forward. You can only imagine what happens to a boat's characteristics when that happens. (Anyone have a good theory?) Whatever you do never allow the spreaders to pull the mast back. Jesper spotted the problem at once and we set the spreaders to a position where they are pushing, or at least not pulling, when tension is on. The setting was not yet perfect but the change was dramatic! I am now trying to optimise the shroud position by keeping a log and making small changes during the Winter series of club races.  
Speaking of Winter races, it is quite an experience to race with 2" of snow on deck and two layers of warm woollies between my wet suit and my sailing suit ;-)  Add a bouyancy aid and you know why I felt like the little Michelin Man. But trust me it beats  looking at a Wayfarer parked on the driveway covered in snow. The hot pee soup followed by a beer at the after sail were a real treat!  I'll try to get some winter sailing pictures and send them to you and Al.   
Best wishes,


----- Original Message -----
From: Ralph Roberts
To: Ton
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 5:16 PM

Hi Ton,
I think you meant 'hot pea soup'!!! Though I hope you won't feel insulted by your mis-spelt English providing us with a little humour. I would be delighted to have half as good a knowledge of another language as almost all European Wayfarer members have of English.

I am certainly impressed by the Bartells genoa reefing system, and did consider buying it, but the considerable expense made me hold back from actually doing so. I have now decided to spend the winter looking into changing my furling system into a reefing one, with a more aerofoil shape to the leading edge. I would be pleased to report on any progress in the Spring!

Best wishes, Ralph

----- Original Message -----
From: Ton
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:44 PM

Aaaargh, The spelling checker has let me down before but never in such an embarrassing way.It reminds me of a training talk I gave to an all English audience some years ago. Returning from lunch my tongue totally let me down when I tried to resume class with the opening phrase: "As we were disgusting before lunch..." 


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 12:34 PM

Hi, Ton:
I don't like the thought of getting into a technical discussion where I quickly get out of my comfortable depth. But I can't let your comment "Whatever you do, never allow the spreaders to pull the mast back." go by without defending Ian Porter and our "magic numbers". Your suggestion may well help when sailing with a genoa and a seriously reefed main, but under full sail, our magic numbers which are intended for successful racing of course, always end up with spreaders and shrouds that pull the mast back (my spreader tips for instance, deflect the shrouds about 5 cm. forward of where they would be without spreaders. This makes the vang and mainsail leech work harder before being able to bend the mast, i.e. you get more mainsail leech tension which in turn gives better pointing when you sail in hiking breezes and even more pointing improvement if you have to spill wind to keep the boat flat. It was a combination of spreader angle and more vang tension that made Hans and me have a far better upwind performance (without ever once hiking! - see for my comments, about half-way down the page) than the other boats in the 2007 Chesapeake Cruise. If the spreaders deflect the shrouds aft and push the middle of the mast forward as tension gets applied, the mast becomes too easy to bend and it becomes impossible to get decent racing-quality leech tension. Of course, with your helm problem, "pushing" spreaders probably depowered your main extremely (serious flattening, low leeech tension) and thus reduced its contribution to your sail plan. (Al's note: I think I just realized that this would make lee helm even worse, and I now officially give up on this topic!)
At a tangent: Like Dick and Ken and no doubt, Ralph, I am set in my ways. I feel I will never need to reef for our usual cruising (or racing) sails of no more than four hours at one go (unless there's no wind!) for the following reasons:
  • in overpowering winds (12 to perhaps 25 knots) I can reach or beat quite comfortably under full sail (spilling wind as needed upwind!). Downwind, I go under jib (sorry, Ken, genoa!) alone as soon as the winds get up enough to make me fear a "death roll" (say 15+ knots while cruising) - in an emergency, I know that I can sail the W upwind under genoa alone but would not want to do so for more than a few hundred metres (too much effort!)
  • in 20 knots or more, I would feel very comfortable using the trysail on all points of sail
In so many words, from my perspective the reefed mainsail is an intermediate step that I don't need and that I feel makes the boat look ugly. Considering the clothes that I wear, this may surprise you, but I am pickier about how my boat and her sails look. Heider Funck (my sailmaker) once commented that in every picture of my boat that he had seen, the sails always looked perfect.
All for now, Ton! And make sure you have someone taste your soup before you gulp it down!!
Best regards,
Uncle Al  (W3854)

----- Original Message -----
From: KEN/K.H.Jensen
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 10:49 AM

Dear Sir, splendid, good shipmate DICK  -  cpy good W-friends !
Firstly I recall - with a chuckle - our river crossing, Dick, in the high mountains of Telemark using Sir Edmund Hillary's technique (when they in 1953 headed for conquering the summit of Mt. Everest), but still a wet, swift and chilly drift could easily have happened to us.
Every day I see a stubborn old man in my mirror, and his aim is to hit right on the *nail of the pee soup*!  Fate-ghost-jokers would naturally make sure that what happened to our good old *Uncle Al* and Hans as they made their approach, really did happen (who else got tangled with the keelboat ? And how? Any takers?):
Quote:  - - -crossing Somers Cove to the ramps - promised to be close-hauled. Sure enough, we ran through the cut with ease, and then pointed up and were just nicely able to lay the ramps area - even under jib alone(that I guess should be Genoa ? Ken). The only fly in the ointment was that the cove was pretty much filled with keelboats riding out this "storm" at anchor.  Unquote.
It's many years since I was brave and daring enough to make such an approach under W-genoa alone, except used as a W-trysail on the mast with the sheet cleated/held by me, and paddles at ready (got oars+2 paddles, one LB and one SB).  But the told incident tells me about the difference in 'mode'/configuration to W1348, where the packed mainsail would not hinder or cover the jib sheet or its cleat.
Good friend Dick, my experience is like yours: No problem with the genoa and partly reefed mainsail, but then again, I decide (not the sailmaker!)  the reefed mainsail area (roller-reefing) and ahead of reefing the flat reef/mini-reef is used.
"Only a fool climbs out onto the bow in wind and waves to change a jib." So very true!  A W-friend leading, singelhanded - and proudly by a very good margin - the fleet of many different boats in a race on handicap, told me about it!  For many years all foresails are set flying on W1348, where we just change the halliard + sheets from the genoa to the jib vice-versa.
Very good and entertaining to be part of this.  All the best.  Ken,W1348"Maitken"

... and Dave Barker (W6151) contributes access to his Reefing Furler articles:

----- Original Message -----
From: D Barker
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: hatch gasket question

Hi Al,
I would love to have the article posted on the WIT. It's currently on my own webspace in separate browsable web pages at:-
...or as a .pdf (acrobat) document at:-
The acrobat document is easier for you to publish, as it's just the one file to transfer to your webspace, but the browsable (is that a word?) pages are easier for some to view.
Let me know which format you wish to use and I will help in any way I can with sending you files etc.
I would just request that you liaise with me over any major editing and re-formatting of the article itself. I hope you will understand.
It was kind of Ton to mention the article to you, which reminds me, I must put some soup on for my supper ;-)
Best wishes,
Dave Barker.

----- Original Message -----
To: Dave Barker (W6151)
Cc: Ton Jaspers (W10445) ; Tom Graefe W9668 ; Jim & Linda Heffernan W2458 ; Chris Walden W1395 ; Bill Waller W923/W1662 ; Dick Harrington W887
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2008 9:53 PM
Subject: reefing furler link & purloined logs

Hi, Dave:
Thanks so much. Have simply added a link to your HTML pages plus another link to the PDF version which I have downloaded to the WIC site in case your site's provider is stingy with band width? See
Having noted your site name as bdtuning, I thought I'd check to see what gems of W tuning you have squirreled away. Piano tuning! Wow! I guess W tuning is not the only tuning after all. But then I was drawn by your Logs of Cruises in 'Cockle' - Had a brief look at the first couple and really like them. I have therefore taken the liberty of adding this link to my Cruise Logs Index on the WIC site, if that's OK with you? see
and on my Whiffle Web at
If I have taken too much of a liberty, let me know and I can delete those links. But I have assumed that after all your work, you (like me) would like as many as possible to enjoy/profit from your work.
Thanks again, Dave.
Best regards,
Uncle Al  (W3854)