Most of us have been taught at some time or other that we must spill wind from the mainsail before we can reef it with conventional systems. On all but the biggest yachts, this just isn’t true. In fact, on passage in an increasing blow downwind with the boom preventer on, rounding up to reef can be downright dangerous. At best, it’ll certainly wake the watch below. It’s far better to keep on running in the lessened apparent wind, hold onto the kicker and preventer, take up slack in the topping lift and ease the halyard gingerly, dragging the luff down at the same time. Heave the clew pennant on as you go, so as to dissuade the battens from fouling on the shrouds. Just work away at it, one bit at a time. It won’t take long. The downside is that you won’t be able to tie in the outer reef points, if that bothers you, but you’ll be well pleased with the seamanlike way you’ve handled your boat.