I have had a Dutchmen since its inception and on 3 different mains. Sailed with it offshore
thousands of miles and coastal cruising for over 20 years. The hardware
has improved, but the basic concept
I find it works very well and as I have a fairly large main at 440sf with a long boom keeping this off the deck
and on the boom is essential.
The system will self flake the main, but it takes some "memory" to get it to do this quickly and get the folds/flakes on the right side of the boom.
When we drop the sail, my wife usually goes to the mast
and guides the flakes if they are not cooperating - they usually do however.
We only need one or two sail ties to keep in on the boom as the Dutchmen lines (3 in our case) keep the sail on the boom. We wrap the reefing lines from the aft end around the back of the sail and the forward reefing lines into the folds. We do this so the reefing lines do not add friction when hoisting by having to run through the eyes.
I've also modified the connection to the topping lift
. I fashioned a line which is connected to the end of the boom to which the 3 Dutchmen lines are fastened. This is a 3/8" line with an eye at the top which the topping lift
(a spare main halyard) is then connected to. This leaves me with a spare halyard
which doesn't have the Dutchman attachments and the who assembly allows me to raise of lower the end of the boom as a regular topping lift does.
Reefing is no problem, perhaps easier with the Dutchman guiding and collecting the sail on the boom.
I haven't used an other sail management systems, but this one has given no chafe, and does the job.
However it MUST be set up properly with each line tensioned sufficiently to guide the sail down and not loose so that it flops over to one side. The fore and aft alignment to the topping life is also critical as these need to perfectly vertical so that, again there is no friction when the sail goes up and down.
Yes - the sail cover
needs to be modified with slits and zippers, but this is a minor matter.
Yes - the sail is modified with the grommets installed in it for the lines to weave through. These are not attractive, but I don't think they have a measurable effect on performance.
Yes - the lines and the grommets are not an enhancement or make the boat more attractive. But to my eye, lazy jacks aren't attractive, nor is the stacpac. The system is not even visible from 50' I suppose.
It's easy to maintain as the only wear item is the heavy gauge nylon mono filament used for the control lines. You can carry spare and easily replace if it parts
. It's a good idea to replace it occasionally as it does loose its slipperiness from the sail going up and down and I suppose from UV exposure. It is essential that the sail maker do the layout and install precisely.
I recommend it when installed and used properly.