I was away from home last week, and my husband and I had our fingers crossed we’d be able to get one more sail in when I returned.
Winds were gusting up to 20 mph today, which would usually keep us home. But the skies were clear and blue, the leaves were bright and orange, and we couldn’t stand to potentially miss our last chance to sail.
We decided we’d brave the higher winds by attempting a reef in our sail for the first time. Reefing the sail means you lower it a bit, tuck the extra canvas and tie it to the boom, and ultimately reduce the amount of sail available to catch the wind. Reefing the sail makes it safer to sail in high winds and also makes the boat less tippy in gusts since the top of the sail is closer to the boat and there is less fabric to catch the air.
Sailing with the reef gave us confidence for sailing in higher winds. By the time we ended our trip, the gusts were scary. The boat tipped far and it was cold out. I was wearing long underwear and wool socks in addition to multiple layers on the top half of my body (tank top, long sleeved shirt, fleece, windbreaker, gloves, fleece earband, wide-brimmed hat), and I was still chilly. I did not relish the possibility of capsizing.
We had a great sail, though. I brought hot cocoa in thermoses, we did not capsize, and now we’ve sailed with a reef and know we can manage the boat in winds we used to think were too strong for us.