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Old 13-11-2009, 16:40   #16
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Furlers aren't straight forward

I had a similar problem where the built in jammer fell to bits (in a blow, of course) and we had a difficult time getting rid of the sail. I replaced it with a block and jammer assembly (I think the bottom half of a main sheet assembly from a smaller boat) shackled to the toe rail. This works pretty well, but I still have problems if the wind gets up. It is really hard to furl the sail when its flogging in any sort of wind, I don't like to put the furling line onto a winch as I think this overloads the furling drum, and it winds the sail really tight, which does not look right. I like to furl early to avoid the issue, but this isn't always possible. One experienced crew member said the furler probably needed greasing, which sounded possible.
What do people think - are furling assemblies meant to be loaded up by pulling on the furling line with a winch?
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Old 13-11-2009, 18:26   #17
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Quote:
What do people think - are furling assemblies meant to be loaded up by pulling on the furling line with a winch?
I think it is more the question of delayed decisions carry huge risks. How much can you delay a wise decision? After many years in extreme sports I always conclude the early start, early decision, or being ahead has the advantage. The early reef carries a decrease in speed but the late reef carries the consequences of an over powered boat.

It would be perfectly logical to say furlers should be able to reef well beyond gale conditions just because you might have to do so. The boat ought to sail itself on a good day too. These two extremes are not unreasonable but not always realistic. So, if you wrap the halyard and break it and at the same time unlay the forestay does it really matter why? I have done exactly that on a previous boat. It happens easier than you might imagine. To that end, if you don't have a halyard restrainer on the mast your furler is too dangerous in heavy weather.

Only the skipper should take a winch to a furling line. Standard procedure should be to depower early and to depower before any and all furling and under all circumstances. It can take a an hour and it is a dangerous maneuver in heavy weather - always!
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Old 14-11-2009, 04:08   #18
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Well, we can't operate the furling gear of our larger headsail (a high cut yankee jib, 77 square meters or 830 square feet) even at the dock, without a winch.

Concerning reefing -- certainly, we follow the old rule of reducing sail when you first think of it, not when you think you need to, and we are being especially conservative on the new boat until we get a better feel for it. But good planning and early reefing doesn't mean that you get to operate your furling gear only in calms. Naturally if you're sailing all day on a windy day, you will have to adjust the amount of sail out from time to time, and Mother Nature doesn't allow you to just turn off the wind for five minutes so that you have the luxury to do it in a calm. One amount of sail which is fine for 30 to 35 knots becomes too much when the wind kicks up to 40 to 45 a couple of hours later, which is exactly what happened to us the last time we were out.

We unload the head sail as much as possible before operating furling gear (at least, before taking sail IN), as I suppose everyone does. That means usually heading off and slacking off the sheet until the sail starts to luff a little. In that configuration, with little tension on the sheet, there's not too much tension on the sail, even in a gale, and so we feel o.k. operating the furling gear like that (albeit with a winch, of course).

Indeed the furling gear works very smoothly and does not seem to be overloaded at all. But the forces are very large -- I can't hold the furling line when the sail is reefed in even a 25 knot wind, not even close.

Do you guys seriously operate your furling gear by hand only? How does that work? You must be Mr. Universe.
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Old 14-11-2009, 05:14   #19
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Some of you guys may cringe at this, but we generally furl the larger headsail using a No. 66 electric primary winch, instead of the No. 40 secondary. That is because it takes a long, long time to get the sail in with the manual winch, and I think it's harmful for the sail to take it in too slowly since you can't completely avoid letting the sail flog. Besides that, the electric winch takes it in with a completely smooth pull, so the sail rolls up smoother and the forces are actually less. You can't help jerking a little with the smaller manual winch.

The much smaller staysail (23 square meters or 249 square feet) is furled easily without a winch. It has the same size Selden Furlex as the yankee jib; so it could be that forces have to do with the geometry of the rope pull based on drum size compared to sail area. Maybe the furler on the yankee is undersized?

We do have halyards led off at an angle to the stays to supposedly prevent a wrap, and so far, knock on wood, we haven't had any problem. But I'll definitely keep a sharper watch while furling; thanks Paul. A halyard wrap in a 45-knot blow could ruin your whole day, that's for sure.

Another think I may do is service and lubricate the furlers. They were supposedly serviced in the spring, but that was before my ownership so you never know. Maybe that will reduce the force.
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Old 14-11-2009, 05:31   #20
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Do you guys seriously operate your furling gear by hand only? How does that work? You must be Mr. Universe.
Its fairly hard work, but not if you start early enough. Sometimes one person pulls up between the blocks on the rail while the other pulls the line through the jammer, but after that its onto the winch. The sail is about 500 square feet.

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Old 14-11-2009, 05:51   #21
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I doubt a little bit of a big yankee would have done much. The shape would have been horrible. The idea of deploying it in that much wind was not a wise choice.
Yes, I think this is true. That was my fundamental mistake. I just wasn't thinking.

But then what to do? Sailing at 3.5 knots upwind in 45 knots of wind felt rather ridiculous; but that's all the drive I could get -- the staysail was completely unreefed. Maybe I should have let out a bit more mainsail? Boat probably could have handled it; there was no trace of weather helm. Mainsail shape was good. I was worried about tacking inside the running backstays, which can't be done without unrigging and rerigging them on every tack, unless the main is very deeply reefed. I was really trying to avoid leaving the cockpit in that storm, and I was going to have to tack a lot --I was trying to get somewhere directly upwind. But in hindsight, that would have probably been the better compromise to make.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:29   #22
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Dockhead,

I think you are on the right track there. In a breeze, with a staysail, throttling with the main is a good solution. Leave your staysail where it is, and leave the headsail all the way furled, therefore no big loads on the reefing/furling gear, and when you feel underpowered, take a reef out of the main. When tacking, be careful with the check stays, but 10 seconds of no tension on a check stay will probably not cause the rig to come down, as you tack.
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