Reefing and Hoisting– When it becomes necessary to reduce sail by reefing topsails, if all hands are to be employed, direct the boatswain to call:

REEF TOPSAILS! The men being on deck:

Man the topsail clewlines and buntlines, weather topsail braces! Hands by the lee braces, bowlines, and halliards!

A few hands take through the slack of the reef-tackles.* When ready-

Clear away the bowlines, round in the weather braces! Settle away the topsail halliards!CLEW DOWN! Brace the topsail yards in so that the lee topmast rigging may not prevent them from being clewed down to the cap; haul up the buntlines, and the slack of the reef-tackles while the yard comes down; and when it is down on the cap, steady the yard by the lee braces, and haul taut the halliards. (The latter precaution is too commonly neglected.)



ALOFT TOPMEN! TRICE UP! LAY OUT! TAKE ONE REEF! Light out to windward. Pass the weather earing, rousing the reef-cringle well up; then haul out to leeward; hauling the reef-band well taut; pass the lee earing and tie the points or toggle the beckets.

While the men are reefing, luff the ship up and spill the sail, that they may gather it up readily.


Stand by the booms!

DOWN BOOMS! LAY DOWN FROM ALOFT! Man the topsail halliards! Let go and overhaul the rigging! Clear away the buntlines, clewlines, and reef-tackles, and have them lighted up. Tend the braces! Let go the lee ones, and stand by to slack the weather ones. Set taut!HOIST AWAY THE TOPSAILS! When up to a taut leech, Belay the topsail halliards! Trim the yards, Steady out the bowlines! and pipe down.

Frequently topgallant sails are set when about to reef

* If the reef-tackles reeve through a sheave in a treble quarter-block under the topsail yard, they act as downhaul tackles when hauled upon, and should be manned. But avoid endangering the yard-arms by putting undue strain upon such reef-tackles while clewing down.


topsails. If you intend to set them again after the topsail is reefed, clew the sail up, and after the topsail is reefed and hoisted, sheet home and hoist the topgallant sail over the single reef.If the wind still increases, and it becomes necessary to reduce sail still further, clew up and furl the topgallant sails, then take a second and a third reef, proceeding as in the first, having each successive reef-band immediately below the preceding one.

And to reduce sail still further, by taking the last or close reef, pass the earings abaft and over the yard, bring the reef-band under the yard, and covering the other reefs. It will be necessary in this reef to haul the reef-tackles close up, to do which you will be obliged to start a little of the topsail sheets, or to brace in a little of the lower yards.

After taking the third reef in the topsails, it is advisable to get preventer braces on the weather topsail yard-arms, particularly if the braces are much worn.

After hoisting a close-reefed topsail, haul taut the reef-tackles, so that they may bear a strain to relieve the reef earing, and be particular that the yard is hoisted clear of the lower cap. Send the men down from aloft, haul home the sheets, trim the yards, and haul the bowlines.

The mizzen topsail is generally furled when the fore and main are close reefed.

To Reef Topsails before the Wind, you may, by putting the helm either way, and bringing the wind abeam, clew the yards down as the sails lift, and keep her in this position until they are reefed; or if you wish to, continue on your course, wind blowing very fresh, brace by, spilling the wind out of the sails.

To Reef a Course. Having the reef-pendants hooked to their cringles, on the leeches of the sail, hook the clew-jigger to the thimble in the upper end of the pendant; Man the clew-garnets, buntlines and leechlines! and haul the sail up as in a fresh breeze. Haul well taut both lifts. HAUL OUT THE REEF-TACKLES! slacking the clew-garnets, if necessary, to get them well up. LAY ALOFT LOWER YARDMEN! Man the boom tricing-lines! TRICE UP, LAY OUT AND REEF! Proceed in reefing as in taking the first reef in a topsail, being careful to secure every reef point to the jack stay. LAY IN! DOWN BOOMS! LAY DOWN FROM ALOFT! Let go and overhaul the reef-tackles, and set the sail.

Topgallant sails have sometimes reef-bands fitted with points, and may be reefed as you would reef a topsail, but this is rarely done. When it blows too fresh to carry a whole topgallant sail over a single-reefed topsail it is time to furl it.

A topmast studding-sail, when set with a reefed topsail before the wind, may also be reefed; this is done on deck before setting the sail.

Plate 116, Fig 502-505. Reef earings.


Reef Earings – Reef Points and Beckets. In reefing, as soon as the men are on the yard, the sail is picked up with both hands, the men facing to leeward and hauling out to windward. The weather earing being passed, Haul out to leeward! passing the lee earing in the same manner as the weather one. Haul the reef-band well taut, and turn the folds (dog’s ears) of both leeches in between the sail and the yard.To pass a bull earing for the first or second reef of a topsail, Fig. 502, Plate 116. The end passes from aft forward through the reef-cringle; haul the cringle well up on top of the yard, then take one round turn of the earing around the yard and outer parts without passing through the cringle, after which take three turns round the yard and through the cringle, hitching the ends to the lift close down to its eye-bolt.

The first turn is taken outside the cringle to jam the thwartship parts and keep the cringle from sagging down.

For description of a bull earing, see Earings, under SAILS, Chapter X.

To pass an ordinary earing for a topsail. For the first reef, if so fitted, as in Fig. 503, Plate 116, take the earing up from the sail and pass it on the forward side and over the yard around the inboard cleat, through the cringle, then take one turn around the yard outside the cringle, to jam the outer turns. Then reeve the bight of the earing through the cringle from aft forward, and pass the end from the cringle under the yard up over and through the bight, then back over the yard and through the cringle from underneath the yard. Slue the cringle well up, pass sufficient turns to secure, expend the end round the yard, finally taking a half-hitch around the lift close down.

The second and third reef earings are passed in the same way, using the outer cleats, and with additional outer turns if required.

First and second reef earings are now generally bull earings, as described above.

The fourth or close reef earing is passed similar to other (ordinary) earings, with the exception of taking the first turns on the after instead of the forward side of the yard. Fig. 504, Plate 116.

If the close reef were fitted with beckets, it would be taken like the others, and the first turns of the earing taken forward, as usual.

Reef earings of a course. The course being hauled up, the first reef earing is then passed fromforward aft around the lift bolt, back over the top of the yard and through the cringle. Take the inner turns through the cringle and around the yard, the same as for a topsail, hitching the end around the brace-block bolt. Fig. 505, Plate 116.

The second reef earing is passed in the same way.


The use of outer turns of a reef earing is merely to keep the head of the sail on a stretch, the innerturns taking the whole strain of the leech when the sail is hoisted and bowline hauled.Reef points of a topsail. The reef earings being secured, pass the after reef points up from under the yard and clear of the topgallant sheets (i.e., between the topgallant sheets and the yard), pull the sail well up forward, and join the forward and after parts of each point with a square knot on top of the yard. Be particular that the reef points are all tied.

Reef points of a course are taken with a round turn around the jackstay, and each pair square knotted forward of the jackstay.

Reef beckets have their tails passed through the reefing jackstay on the sail, and toggled to their own parts, as soon as both earings-are passed.

To Shake or Turn a Reef out of a Topsail. Settle a little of the topsail halliards! Haul taut the reef-tackles and buntlines! to take the strain off the leeches of the sail and reef-earing. Send aloft the sail loosers. Cast off the reef-points or beckets from the slings, as they lay out, and have the earings ready to ease away; when the reef-points are all clear, EASE AWAY! LAY IN! LAY DOWN FROM ALOFT! Let go and overhaul the rigging! Reef-tackles, buntlines, clewlines, topgallant studding-sail tacks, and topgallant sheets are overhauled. Man the topsail halliards! Tend the braces! HOIST AWAY THE TOPSAILS! Trim the yards, and if on a wind, haul the bowlines.

To Turn a Reef out of a Course, proceed as in a topsail, easing off the tack and sheet to relieve the strain on the leeches of the sail, while you are hauling taut the reef-tackles; when done, haul aboard the tack, and aft the sheet.



Sailing with the wind on the starboard quarter under royals, flying-jib, staysails, and all the starboard studdingsails,-a signal is made to come to on the port tack, with the main topsail to the mast, under single-reefed topsails.

In obeying this signal, it will be your object to reduce sail, and reef your topsail in wearing. Order the boatswain to call:

SHORTEN SAIL! When ready: Stand by to take in the stun’sails, staysails, royals and flying-jib! When everything is well manned, order, Haul taut! IN STUN’SAILS AND ROYALS, DOWN STAYSAILS AND FLYING-JIB! Rig in and get alongside the booms, take the burtons off the topsail yard,


and jiggers off the topgallant lifts. Furl the royals, haul down and stow the staysails and flying-jib, make up and stow away the studding-sails.LAY ALOFT TO FURL THE TOPGALLANT SAILS!

Man the topgallant clewlines, lee main clew-garnet, and buntlines! Spanker brails! When manned, IN TOPGALLANT SAILS! UP MAINSAIL AND SPANKER! Haul the mainsail up snug.

Stations for wearing! And proceed as directed in “Wearing,” until the wind is right aft; when, the after yards being square, square also the head yards. Shift over the head sheets!

Man the topsail clewlines, buntlines, and reef-tackles! Lay aloft topmen! Settle away the topsail halliards! CLEW DOWN! HAUL OUT THE REEF-TACKLES! HAUL UP THE BUNTLINES! Steady the topsail yards by the braces. TRICE UP! LAY OUT! TAKE ONE REEF IN THE TOPSAILS! Shift over the spanker boom.

The vessel going around, brings the wind on the port quarter; brace up the cross-jack yard, and as she comes to, bringing the wind abeam, meet her with the helm, haul aft the jib-sheet, brace up the fore yard, and haul forward the port fore tack. LAY IN! DOWN BOOMS! LAY DOWN FROM ALOFT! Man the topsail halliards! Clear away and light up all the rigging. Tend the braces!HOIST AWAY THE TOPSAILS! Having mast-headed the topsails, brace up and trim the fore and mizzen topsail yards. Haul taut the lifts and braces, and pipe down.

Use the spanker, if necessary, to keep the topsails lifting while you are reefing; and when reefed, to bring her by the wind, and keep her from falling off.

After taking in the studding-sails, being in a hurry to perform the remainder of the evolution, merely remove them from out the way of the rigging, and make them up while the topmen are reefing, or after the evolution is completed.

Reefing Topsails and Courses. These evolutions are sometimes performed at the same time, but it is considered more ship-shape to defer reefing the courses until the topsails are reefed and reset. By so doing, the ship is kept more steady while the people are aloft, and under much better command.

Lower yards should be well placed before sending men on them for the purpose of reefing or furling courses. When it becomes necessary to perform either of these operations at sea, there is generally considerable motion; and an attempt to remedy neglect or want of judgment in this particular, by handling the braces while men are on the yards, is always attended with great danger to them, especially in the case of main yard men, who are mostly inexperienced hands.



In clewing down to reef, luff the ship to, with a steady helm, and meet her when she shakes. Clear away the bowlines, settle a little of the halliards, and then round in the weather braces. By adopting this precaution, the sails are more easily spilled, and by hauling on the weather braces, they serve not only to keep the yard in, but to bring it down also, which would not be the case were the halliards kept fast until afterwards. But have the topsail yard braced well in before settling the halliards away roundly, or else the lee topmast rigging will be endangered.

Much depends upon the manner in which the sails are laid for reefing; for this reason it is deemed best by experienced seamen to keep the courses, which should be set, full, and to brace the upper yards in, sufficient to make the topsails lay “alive;” or in other words, so that the weather leech willcut, as it were, the wind in two, leaving the canvas hanging loose.

If sailing with the squadron in moderate breezes, run the yards in nearly square, or the men will lose time in getting on the weather yard-arm.

Bracing in a topsail yard for reefing, in a fresh breeze, requires great force, and not unfrequently the brace, from being much worn, becomes stranded; as soon as you discover it, put on a good stopper above the strand, man the weather clewline and clew the sail up, bend the lee bowline to the extremity of the lee yard-arm, and get a preventer-brace on the weather one; then, by these, brace in the yard and clew it down; and while you are reeving new braces or splicing old ones, steady the yard by the bowlines and preventer-brace.

When short-handed or working with the watch, clew the yards down, and get all ready for reefingbefore starting the men up; but with all hands, the topmen may be sent aloft at once, and ordered out as soon as the yards are on the cap, the braces steadied taut, and gear hauled up.

In hoisting sails after reefing, be careful (particularly if it be blowing fresh) not to “swig” them up too taut, as the reef-bands are apt to be slewed under the yard in consequence, and the sail must be reefed afresh.

In a seaway, and the vessel pitching, do not haul the braces too taut; it endangers the yard and the rigging; the lee braces should be kept slack to allow the yard a little play, but be particular that though the brace is slack, it is securely belayed to its pin.

When double or treble reefing on a wind with courses set, bear in mind that the outer arms of the topsail yards are unsupported, and are unequal to the strain that may be brought to bear on them, by overmanning the reef-tackle.


When the yard is laid, the duty of the reef-tackle is to give the earing men plenty of slack leech between itself and yard; and if it cannot effect this without much straining (and this can easily be judged of by observing the tautness of the leeches below the reef-tackles on each side), raise the clews at once with the clewlines, sufficiently for the purpose.Particular attention should be given to the fore topsail in this respect. The fore yard being braced sharper up than the main, unless the lee topsail sheet is checked a little, the sail cannot be as well hauled up for reefing as the main topsail. Bracing in the fore yard is less advisable than checking the lee sheet, as the yards should be kept sharper up forward than aft.

Pull the buntlines well up so as to girt the sail in for the bunt points.

Nothing is gained by permitting the men to get out on the yard for reefing, in a strong breeze, until the yard is laid and the sail ready for them. Yard-arms have been wrung off in the endeavor to make the reef-tackle do all the duty of other gear, and the earing men’s lives saved only by a seeming chance.

In reefing at night, in the line, observe if your next ahead and astern have more or less sail than topsails. If you have been sparing them courses, you will be run into; and if they have been sparing them to you, you will run into your leader, unless you are alert.

A few fathoms of the main brace, checked by one hand, will often just regulate the pace and keep the ship in station; and, if let go at the instant, arrest danger.*

After every evolution (especially at night), make the petty officers report their ropes, and also immediately after relieving the watch.

Preventer-brace pendants, made long enough to reach from the yard-arm to the slings, are not only quickly attached to the whips, but the risk sometimes incurred in sending men on the yards greatly diminished. Preventer topsail braces have more drift, and a more downward pull than the standing ones; and, therefore, should never be so taut, or be hauled upon, until the lifts are well up.

The general rule for topsail lift jiggers, is to put them on when the second reefs are taken. And it is good to make a habit of putting the spare parrels and preventer-braces on when the third reefs are taken.

When topgallant yards are sent down on account of weather, unreeve the topgallant sheets, and reeve them through the bowline bridle of the topsails, up before all, and hitch them to the lugs of the tie blocks. They will act like the leechlines of courses when taking in topsails.

* This refers to sailing in line. Hardly too much can be said of the many and great advantages of squadron sailing; the constant rivalry excited among the several ships, making it one of the very highest schools of seamanship.


Reefing a Spanker. Brail up as in blowing fresh, but do not haul up the clewrope. Lower the throat and peak halliards (or tackles clapped on to the pendants, if so fitted), steadying the gaff by the vangs. Pass a reef earing through the cringle in the leech and around the foot of the sail; if taken around the boom, the foot of the sail cannot be brailed up. Bring down the forward reef cringle and pass a tack-lashing through it. Reef the sail on the foot. The outhaul may be shifted to the reef cringle, but this is not always done. When ready, sway up the gaff till the luff is taut, easing the vangs and steadying aft the out-haul. Then haul out the head and get a final pull on the foot outhaul; easing off the spanker sheet as necessary.To Reef a Trysail. Proceed as above, shifting the sheet block from the clew to the reef cringle.

The old balance reef in a spanker, from the close reef cringle diagonally toward the jaws, is rarely used.

A spanker or trysail is frequently set “reefed,” by keeping fast the head downhaul, and hauling out the foot only. A few turns of the furling line at the head will assist in keeping it in.

The storm mizzen is a substitute for the spanker set in this way.