I was faced with exactly the same options about eight and a half years ago for my 42-foot sloop
I did a LOT of investigating, asking, looking, and figuring. In the end it came down to just two options:
1. behind-the-mast furling
2. in-boom furling
I discarded any notion of in-mast furling both to the cost and, especially, to the problems of added weight aloft and the propensity -- on smaller boats -- for in-mast furlers to jam at the worst time, with no way to reduce sail.
In boom furlers, by contrast, can be dropped just like a normal mainsail
. However, the hardware
and the conversion isn't cheap
and you must use a dedicated (purpose-built) mainsail
Behind the boom furlers (like putting a ProFurl headsail furler behind the mast) are much less expensive and are virtually trouble-free. They also can usually work well with a slightly modified main sail (you don't need a new one). There may be some slight performance loss, but this isn't too important for cruisers, and the ease of operation and relatively low cost and reliability
make them an attractive option.
In the end, I chose the LeisureFurl in-boom system, with a new North Sails
main and a Lewmar electric windlass
. This wasn't inexpensive, but has served me very well for the past. It has full-length battens, a big roach, and is very quiet underway. Virtually no flapping about, even in strong winds.
The cost was $20,720 in December 2002 including the LeisureFurl boom, Forespar rigid boom vang
, unstepping and modifying the mast
(normally not necessary but in my case it was due to an unusual built-in electrical
track system), electric windlass
, testing, etc.
Additionally, it cost $4,700 for the new main sail. Thus the total cost was over $25K.
relatively inexpensive, reliable, very easy to use, maybe a slight loss in performance.
relatively expensive, can use full-batten main with large roach, a bit tricky to get used to, requires electric windlass and new purpose-built main, very quiet.