Reefing the Jerry Montgomery designs

As the coronavirus delayed 2020 sailing season begins I’ve received many requests on how to use the reefing systems that Jerry Montgomery installed on the Montgomery 17 & 15 and I installed on the Sage 17 and 15. I covered reefing before and here I’ll provide some more details and some pictures taken of SWEET PEA’s hardware.

The reefing system works in this way –

  • Each mainsail reef has two control lines: one aft for the clew (along the sail’s leech) ; one forward for the clew (along the sail’s luff).
  • The clew line is attached to a terminal eye strap on the port side of the boom, runs up through the sail’s reef clew grommet, and down the starboard side to a cheek block and then forward to a clamcleat.
  • The tack control line is attached to a eye strap on the port side of the mast, up through the sail’s tack reef grommet, and down the starboard side to a clamcleat.
  • To reef head into the wind and while sitting on the cabin top at the mast (feet hanging into the cabin through the companionway slider hatch – some people  stand in the cabin and can reach the mast).  Lower the main halyard till the tack reef grommet for the reef to be tied is about 6″ above the boom.  Tie off the halyard.  (This step takes some practice as the idea is not needing to raise the sail to tighten the luff – which takes time and also can be a challenge if any wind is in the sail.)
  • Pull the tack reefing line on the starboard side of the mast and snug the reef tack grommet tight to the boom & gooseneck (the main’s luff needs to be tight – see comment above about how far to drop the main halyard).  Confirm the reefing line is set in the clamcleat.
  • Reach aft along the boom to the clew reefing line and pull the sail’s clew reefing grommet to the boom.  Assure the reefing line is set in the clamcleat
  • The reef is set so you can return to the helm and fall off and sail.  clean up the reef with the buntlines (I usually don’t tie in the buntlines for the first reef as the amount of sail hanging down doesn’t cause any issues.  I do clean up the sail when putting in a second reef.  I only clean up the sail after the boat is again sailing.)

Reefing, lowering the main and setting the reef tack and clew lines, should take you less than 30-seconds. (Cleaning up the reef with the buntlines is best done once the boat is again reefed and sailing v. when heading into the wind and the boat has lost way, pouncing around and then going broadside in the sea.)


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