Slab Reefing Line Boom Attachment

So I got to messing around with my boat (like ya do) and have finally decided to replace the old reefing lines that were just slapped up from a roll of the cheapest double-braid that the PO could find at West Marine. Anyway, the question is this...

How should I attach the lines to the boom?

Now normally I'd just run the new lines, slap a bowline around the boom and go sailing. But it just kinda looks... well... sloppy. Having that line there tie around the boom and just sitting. Is there any reason not to put a small cheek block or something on the side of the boom to make the line fast to? Am I asking for trouble if I use something core dependent and splice and integral soft-shackle onto the end? Please, save me from myself!


Wright Way

I got taught to use a timber hitch because its easy to adjust to shift wear points at the clew, I figure if it was good enough for an old IOR Maxi it should be good enough for my boat.

I've got one reefing line with a bowline, one with a timber hitch to compare, thought the hitch might shake loose, 2 years later no issues with either. Use them fairly regularly.

looking at boats with eyes or blocks I always wonder if they would break loose or cause chafe at a bad moment. 

I'm going to stick with the timber hitch, simple easy to tie or undo, can assess its condition visually 100%, never going to break or corrode its attachment.

As for looks I reckon its a sign that you have some seamanship knowledge.



Super Anarchist
Yes, always spend money, add more weight, mix materials and drill holes if you can

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European Bloke

Super Anarchist
The best thing about using a specific fitting is that you can use one slightly too small and fit it a bit wonky in the wrong place.



New member
Splice a small loop on the end of the line and either luggage tag it around the boom, or use a soft shackle to close the loop, so you can disconnect it without having to strip the line out of the boom or sail. Looks clean, simple, and seamanlike.


El Borracho

Verified User
Pacific Rim
No, no new fittings. Tie it neatly around the boom. I make a full turn so it is less apt to wander fore and aft. 

But my improved method for distance cruising is to make up a length of Spectra with a loop in one end. That loop is luggage-tagged to the end of the stripped outhaul. the other end goes up thru the sail eye and is tied to the boom. The length is arranged so the permanent expensive part of the outhaul disappears into the boom when reefed. Or nearly so if there is a jamming issue. The Spectra is low friction thru the sail eye, is cheap so that when it is ruined from long term rubbing at the eye or at the fittings back at the clew it can be easily renewed, and it plays well with the sailcloth when not reefed. If you rarely reef then this is probably overkill.

I have access/lightening ports in the sides of my boom. I have sometimes lightly lashed the tails thru those ports to help them behave. Having them wander out of position, or even swap places with the other reef outhaul tails can be an unwanted hassle in long distance foul weather.

See, that's why I come here!  :D

@El Boracho - I'm in love with the spectra method! I have a buncha spectra that I picked up super cheap as remnants at Fisheries Supply and this seems like a perfect use. Can you post a pic or diagram of how you set this up? Or point to another post if you've done that already.  :)

@teamvmg - Yeah, those were my thoughts. For all of the reasons mentioned I didn't want to go the "add yet another thing to the boom" route. But I've been wrong before (horribly, expensively wrong in some cases) and it is always educational to ask on here.


El Borracho

Verified User
Pacific Rim
I have used a Brummel Eye with cow hitch. Also in the heat of the moment have simply doubled the spectra line and tied the ends together with a figure eight. Lotsa ways to do it. Saves my expensive hitech outhaul 




What's the typical strategy for additional reefs? I don't run my second reef through the clew and a lot of boats I've been on with 3+ reefs need to move the reef lines.

Is there a messenger line setup that works well or do you just need to struggle to get the line run?


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