It is five o’clock in the morning, and I have just woken up to hear the wind charger in full cry as the boat jumps off a wave and the phone joins me in bed, painfully.

Well, I won’t need the alarm now, will I?

This is what you get for promising your 15-year-old grandson you will sail from Falmouth to Jersey before the end of the school holidays.

So far, it has taken 39 hours against the wind, and now we are in that nasty little triangle between the Roches Douvres, Les Minquiers and the iron-bound south coast of Jersey. The cosy marina in St Helier might as well be on the moon.

Last night before dinner, I set full sail in the hope that we might catch the morning tide off La Corbiere, but that’s not going to happen now. Meanwhile, it’s time to put the reef back in.

Singlehanders spend a lot of time reefing (partly because there’s nobody else to do it). Every time I open Facebook, there’s another one crowing about how they have all lines led back to the cockpit and how safe this makes it.

But as I climbed into my oilies to go on deck (two minutes), I decided I wasn’t so sure.

Fast-forward another twelve minutes (I have a fetish about timing things), and I am hanging up the oilies to drip into the shower tray, but I can’t go back to bed because my head’s still wet from washing off the salt and nobody likes a wet pillow.

So instead, I am going to sit up and pose the question: Would it really have been better if I could have nipped out in my jim-jams and conducted the whole business under cover of the spray hood?

Think about it:  If reefing involves going on deck every time, you get pretty used to being out there in heavy weather. I get more used to it than most because of the way my reefing system is set up. I think it must have been thought out by more than one person: After putting the cringle on the horn at the mast, I have to come back to the cockpit and make up the halyard  – and then go back again to take in the pennants. It’s a lot of clambering about and holding on.

Is it unsafe – or does it make me more safe?

It would be tempting fate to suggest I know the answer.

If the boat arrives in Jersey without me, we’ll know.

2 Responses to Reefing

  • We prefer reefing by the mast.
    The boat we had before our present one had all lines led back to the cockpit.
    Too much friction and a lot of rope under the sprayhood.
    Keep it simple is our motto.

  • The more basic (or thoroughly tested) the system the closer foolproof and fail safe it may be, and out of the spray hood your senses work better, if wetter

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