Seafarers reduce sails in strong winds so that ships can move more safely and comfortably. Sails are made with rows of small ropes attached to them and these are tied around spars to reduce the amount of sail exposed to the wind. The amount of sail taken in by securing one set of ropes is called a reef. The action of reducing sails is called reefing and the knot that is used to tie the ropes is called a reef knot. In light winds all the reefs are taken out and the full size of the sail is exposed to draw full power from the wind.

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