1460Holt Mini-Reef Issues
- Aug 31, 2017
I share these experiences in the hope that it may help others who have the same equipment, and also that someone else may have found a solution to the problem.
The jib on my Privateer 20 is fitted with the Holt Allen Reefing & Furling System for boats under 18-ft, which I gather is also known as the Holt Minireef. This came with the boat when I bought her, and by and large works acceptably, although it seems to be a more simply engineered system and not as robust as the systems commonly found on larger craft. That is perhaps fair, since it is (or was) specifically marketed for smaller boats.
The documentation that came with it is just a single sided of A4, which seems to be basically a sales flyer, with no detailed instructions. But from the schematic diagram I do believe that my system is complete as designed, and not missing a part.
However on three occasions spread over 4 seasons I have found the reefing line has come off the drum, resulting in a jam which I have been unable to rectify at sea. On each occasion the only solution has been to go forward onto the foredeck and either drop the jib or find an alternative way to strap it up to prevent it flogging.
Perhaps inevitably, on each occasion it was in circumstances when doing that was a slightly hairy undertaking. On all three occasions I was single-handed, and sailing downwind in a wind which was at least fresh; on one occasion it was a good force 5-6. The first time I was approaching a downwind anchorage and discovered the problem when I started preparing to drop all sail and then anchor, and I had limited searoom for that sort of unplanned manoeuvre. On the second occasion the problem surfaced when I decided that in a freshening wind I needed to reef; and again I was in a deep but narrow channel with shoals either side, so again limited searoom for this unplanned manoeuvre. The third occasion, during this last cruise, was when I decided that on an almost dead run the jib was more trouble than it was worth so it might as well be furled, but at least this time I had ample searoom.
Fortunately I have the benefit of a gaff cutter rig, and having progressively refined my technique for this recurring emergency I can now put the boat onto a a moderately close reach and then stop her in the water. I allow the jib to flog, release the peak halliard - which has the effect of scandalising the mainsail, and back the staysail. That stops her, and then just in case she pays off while I am working up forward I put the helm down and slam on the tiller brake (Huntinford Helm Impeder: http://dinghycruising.org.uk/pages/helmimpeder )
When I was subsequently able to reinstate the reefing line onto the drum, while I was in a marina, it appeared that a likely cause was that the entire reefing spar is free to rise vertically along the forestay. I couldn't address this until the mast was next dropped, but I have now fabricated an upper stop which I hope will prevent the problem. First, a pair of stainless steel "penny washers", each with a radial slot cut to allow it to slip over the forestay, and then the two bonded together with the slots in different directions so that they cannot come off the stay. Then I wanted a reasonably neat stainless steel clamping system to clamp onto the stay above the washers. I no longer have access to a lathe, so the engineering is a bit primitive, but I made a short length of stainless steel tube by drilling down the centre of a bolt, and then cut off a suitable length. The ends were dressed with a file, and then I hacksawed a longitudinal slot, and opened it out with a screwdriver until the slot would just slid over the stay. I then fitted it to the stay, with a bonding agent, and compressed it onto the stay with a pair of mole grips.
If the proof of a pudding is in the eating, the first proof will come if this fix remains in place. But the ultimate proof, that it cures the problem, will necessarily take at least a couple of seasons (if not more) before I can be certain.
Any alternative good ideas would be most welcome.
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