First: No, I'm not kidding about the anchor thing; or the charter guy I pulled off a reef on St. Thomas who said he was just trying to get into Priates Blight on Normal Island, to which I replied "Not only are you not where you think you are, but you're not even in the right country! etc. etc. etc.;gotta love charters!
On single handed reefing Mainsails. This is directed to those of you who are not set up for single handed sailing, don't want to be (lines to the cockpit), but might find yourself in the position of having to reef a sail by yourself in less than perfect conditions.
- Sheet in you jib, tack through the wind and leave the jib backwinded. The boat will point off the wind, slow down and continue to sail. Set rudders to windward.
- Release the mainsheet and let the main go into irons. This should be at about 20-30 degrees off center for the boom.
- Put on a harness, or wrap a line around your waist at least three times (climbers call this a swami belt), be sure to hook in.
- Casually and carefully walk forward and position yourself in front of the mast facing aft.
- Release the halyard lower the main to the reefing point and tie the closest reefing point to you. Re-tension the halyard.
- Climb back into the cockpit and complete the reefing tiedown.
- Sheet in the mainsheet.
- Release the jib sheet and sheet to the proper tack.
All this can be done casually and calmly, no rush, no fuss, no radically flapping sails; and it can be done in conditions well beyond anything you would think possible, but practice it first on a light wind day and slowly, step by step.
I have done this countless times in squalls and storms, even at night & without raising my bloodpressure, and sometimes even while pausing on the fordeck to observe the high wind reefing 'fire drills' and other entertainment going on, on crewed boats trying to reef in sudden wind conditions around me.
Try it, I think you'll find you'll like it. Nothing builds confidence like having a strong system for taking high unexpected winds and seas in stride. MM