Reefing Lines & Crossing Massachusetts Bay

We were tempted by a favorable wind forecast for Monday to spend Sunday in Rockport. So we set up to do some projects and installed a more permanent set of reefing lines on our Mainsail. Up to this point we have had a system where we had to run a reefing line out to the end of the boom when we wanted to reef. It wasn’t exactly a problem, but made it a lot of work to put a reef in the sail. We decided that we wanted to have a system in place to make it easier.

For non-sailors a reef is a way to take in part of a sail. In this case we wanted to be able to bring the mainsail down partway and still be able to use the top portion of it. Our mainsail has 3 reef points. Each time you go to the next “reef” the sail gets smaller. So if we put in the first reef we still have about 70% of our Mainsail up. If we put in the second reef we have 50% of our sail still up, and if we put in the third reef we only have about 30% of our Main up. It is very important to be able to shrink the size of the sail in case the wind starts blowing too hard.

Our new system consists of installed padeyes on the port side of the boom that the reefing lines are tied to.

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From here the reefing line runs up through a grommet on the sail and down to a block on the starboard side of the boom.

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From here the lines run forward along the boom to the mast. They run through a bunch of fairleads ( little plastic loops) to keep the lines from dangling into the cockpit.

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After the last fairlead the reefing lines run through a jam cleat which will hold the line once it has been tightened.

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The line is fed from here back to a winch on the boom so we can really tighten down the reefing lines.

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We haven’t needed to use the new reefing lines yet, but it will certainly be easier to reef next time we need to.

This morning we awoke to our forecasted east wind and headed out of Rockport. The wind was very light and we motored until we cleared Thacher Island, we then raised the sails and the wind promptly changed so that was coming from the southeast. We started tacking our way towards Provincetown wishing that the wind had stayed as forecast. The sailing was beautiful and we kept right on moving along. We spotted a shark swimming along near the surface. He didn’t seem very interested or scared of us, but I pulled in my fishing line to make sure he didn’t make off with my new lure.

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Eventually we realized that we weren’t going to make Provincetown before dark at the rate we were going and started the engine to make our way upwind faster. We were moving right along until we started spotting some whales! We saw several finbacks, but no encounters as close as our downeast spotting.

After leaving the whales we noticed that the oil pressure on the engine had begun to drop. I opened the door to the engine room and knew right away that we had a problem. There was oil leaking from somewhere and was making a mess in the engine room. A quick check of the engine oil showed that our level was high again. Uh-oh, we quickly put up sails so we could keep moving while we sorted out the situation.

After pumping out the oil (more than we had put in) and refilling with fresh oil the engine was running at an appropriate oil pressure, without any leaking. It is time for us to get the engine looked at by a professional. If anyone knows a good diesel mechanic familiar with a Perkins 4-108 in the Massachusetts area let us know!

We decided to keep to the plan and are currently heading to Provincetown (where we will arrive in the dark) and will be trying to get our engine looked at soon.

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