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Old 28-03-2016, 11:48   #1
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in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Hey folks, I hope someone can shed some light on this matter.

I'm in the process of buying my very first boat, and the boat I'm thinking about putting an offer on has a in-mast furling mast.

I read lots of stories about, some horror and all that. People seem to have a very strong opinion about it, either in favor or against it.

My doubt is this - I know there is a performance penalty - but how much are we really talking about? I couldn't find any specifics.
I've also heard the in-mast furling mast is heavier, and can make the boat more tender - how much heavier can it be in a 56ft mast?

The boat will be run by my wife and I, and our intent is coastal sailing in Florida and the eventual trips to the Bahamas and Caribbean. No racing at all.

Your input will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers
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Old 28-03-2016, 12:10   #2
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Welcome to CF

I would recommend two things, firstly spend an evening searching CF because the subject comes up regularly.

Secondly, take the boat for a sail and make your own mind up. We did just this and then bought a yacht with in mast reefing so you know which side of the fence I am on.

As for heavier masts, assuming its not an add on system, the weight difference will be marginal.

Don't forget that the main will last much longer because it's stored out of the weather and sun neatly rolled up, not squashed into a bag or boom sac.
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Old 28-03-2016, 12:36   #3
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Pros and cons for everything that floats. I've had both, so here's my opinion.

The performance hit you take for in-mast is only in light wind, otherwise you're going hull speed. The counter to that is you're more likely to roll your sail in and out when needed with roller furling in changing wind situations.

RF can jam at the worst possible time (part way back in in a hard blow). Of course a sail slug could jam in the top of the track. Worst case scenario your R/F jams in a horrible blow, you cut the out haul, bunch the sail up against the mast as best you can, then maypole your spinnaker halyard around it until you've got a chance to repair the jam.

For your coastal cruising plans I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm happy with the simplicity of slab reefing I have now, but wouldn't have ruled out R/F if the boat had it. Now having a tiller was mandatory......

Other opinions will be very different.



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Old 28-03-2016, 12:44   #4
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Hi FL Winds,

I owed a Beneteau First 285 with classic main for a couple of years then owned a in-mast furling main on a Beneteau 331 and Beneteau 393 for the past 13 years; chartered 40-45 ft. boats in BVI with classic and furling mains; and charted 35-45 ft. boats on the Great Lakes with classic mains.

My experience is I may give up a little performance in light winds < 10 kts. However, the loose footed main minimizes the loss.

If I were looking to buy a new boat, I'd have it built with a furling main.
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Old 28-03-2016, 13:58   #5
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

I looked at the same thing for my first boat.

Cons of in mast- more weight higher aloft, not idiot-resistant- if the boom is not at the correct angle can jam during furling, poorer performance. Plus- if it all works right easier to furl and infinitely reef-able.

Classic with lazy Jack's and lines led to cockpit cons---- only 2 or 3 reef points. Pluses very close to full idiot-proof rating. Better trim. Less weight aloft since when you reef the sail is on the boom and not 50' up and there is no reefing gear inside the mast.

In the end I got a classic without jacks or reefing lines into the cockpit. Something about standing on a deck lowering and flaking a sail that feels like ---- sailing. FWIW I am 61.

Ymmv


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Old 28-03-2016, 14:27   #6
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Don't worry about the lack of performance- you're not racing and it isn't much 1/2 to 3/4 of a knot in light winds on a 32 footer. The convenience far outweighs the loss of performance for a couple. No problems with mine in the last 4 years, just learn how to roll the sail in and out properly.
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Old 28-03-2016, 14:33   #7
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Firstly, I'd 2nd taking Pete7's advice

That said, you may be able to look up a definitive speed differential, via searching PHRF ratings, & comparing the boat with the 2 different main/reefing types.
Or if not that specific boat, then boats in her size range, with similar underbody configurations, & SADR's.

As to weight aloft, that's fairly easy. Just get the specs on a standard mast tube for the boat, & those of an in mast furling one. And then add the weight of a furler, plus a main to the tube's weight.
And a SWAG on the weight difference for your situation, call it 50lbs -60lbs, plus the sail. That's the weight penalty for the mast tube, & the furler, vs. a standard tube.

Keep in mind that;
- an in mast furling main is Always up there, & that weight works against your boat's stability & ability to make progress when you need it most
- you get more drag from the bigger tube, which plays to the above, also
- every pound aloft is like taking 5-7lbs out of your keel

Plus, there's the obvious. The aerodynamic efficency of a main without much roach is a lot lower, on top of the lost sail area.

Also, I can't say that I've Ever seen anyone with an in mast furling system, even touch on the subject of Trysails. Meaning, what the heck do you do if you ever need one?
As to whether or not that's an issue for you, only you can say, but.... Were your primary main to jam & have to be cut away, or to blow out in a stiff breeze. Then you don't have an option for a Plan B to my knowledge.
And when pondering the above question, if you're at all considering venturing away from home, or any real serious voyaging. Now, or possibly down the road. Then having a Trysail's a Real good idea.

Also, FWIW, the majority of delivery skippers aren't fans of the in mast systems. Regardless of make, age, or boat type. And they're the best pool of shorthanded experts out there, with experience on all types of boats.
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Old 28-03-2016, 17:23   #8
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Hi Uncivilized. Good question on trysail. Same challenge with jib.

We plan to island hop and coastal cruise, so this is not as much of a concern as true blue water ocean crossing.

FYI, we have considered trysail. One option is just roll in the main until it is very small. We do this whenever winds reach 25 knots.

Also, the mast on our B393 has a slug track just port of the sail slot where we plan to prepare for the trysail or emergency sail encase of furling failure. We will replace the topping lift from high strength line.
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Old 28-03-2016, 17:50   #9
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Make sure you get instructions on how to use your RF main. Not all versions especially older one might not be equal. Seldan furlers work well. A lot of boats with wide fairly flat bottoms sail a lot better when reefed and are sailing flat and fast. There is a reason they sell so many.
PS I have reefed mine to 10% can't do that with standard reefing.


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Old 28-03-2016, 17:55   #10
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

I think, the penalty from say a baggy conventional sail is bigger that that from a fine in-mast sail?

To turn my thinking round: I do not think the penalty, in cruising terms, is large enough to reject the benefits.

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Old 28-03-2016, 18:17   #11
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
. . .
Also, I can't say that I've Ever seen anyone with an in mast furling system, even touch on the subject of Trysails. Meaning, what the heck do you do if you ever need one?
As to whether or not that's an issue for you, only you can say, but.... Were your primary main to jam & have to be cut away, or to blow out in a stiff breeze. Then you don't have an option for a Plan B to my knowledge.
And when pondering the above question, if you're at all considering venturing away from home, or any real serious voyaging. Now, or possibly down the road. Then having a Trysail's a Real good idea. . . .
Ummm, Selden furling masts have trysail tracks in them. I'll bet they're not the only ones.

The reason why it's not discussed is that the primary purpose of a trysail is not to back up a knackered main, but as storm canvas. And if you have a furling main, you don't really need a trysail for that purpose, as furling mains work very well when reefed way down, to trysail size. For some reason, they get flatter, the further you furl them.

Furling mains are very poor for light wind work due to lack of roach, and the weight aloft is a bitch. On top of that, the thick mast really hurts the attachment of the airflow to the sail.

But they are fabulous in heavy weather, and in latitudes with a lot of strong wind. And furling mainsails last longer and require less maintenance because of the excellent storage inside the mast.

It's all a tradeoff. My present boat has a furling main, and it doesn't suck (except in light wind). But the next boat might just have a normal full batten main.
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Old 28-03-2016, 23:52   #12
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

As time passes, it becomes more & more apparent that I speak the wrong language to be on this forum.
Some of us were never cut out to be push button "sailors".
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Old 29-03-2016, 00:24   #13
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I think, the penalty from say a baggy conventional sail is bigger that that from a fine in-mast sail?
So what you're saying is, that a new main, in good condition, trumps an old, blow out one.
Quite the epiphany I'd say.

To turn my thinking round: I do not think the penalty, in cruising terms, is large enough to reject the benefits.

b.
Also, a (Key) point (or points) which I didn't mention earlier, is that with a conventional main, you have the option of a dozen or so controls to use, in order to shape the sail with. Which, with a RF main, are completely lacking, and cannot be added.

Including a few, which are handy for things like; increased power, reduced weather helm, better pointing, reduced pitching & rolling, & decreasing heeling moment; all while maintaining the sail's/sail plan's power.
Basically; items of little import, unless you're concerned with things like; comfort underway, or trying to get somewhere under sail.

That said, it's good that spar makers are giving folks the option to fit Trysails to their rigs. But, yes, quite honestly, this is the first I've heard of it until now.


PS: By willingly giving up 1/2 - 3/4kt of speed, you've just cut your VMG by 15% - 20% or more. So it's not such as small a loss as it would, at first glance, seem.

And in doing so, you've drastically reduced the number of harbors, which you can comfortably reach in a day's sail.
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Old 29-03-2016, 05:54   #14
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Firstly, I'd 2nd taking Pete7's advice

That said, you may be able to look up a definitive speed differential, via searching PHRF ratings, & comparing the boat with the 2 different main/reefing types.
Or if not that specific boat, then boats in her size range, with similar underbody configurations, & SADR's.

As to weight aloft, that's fairly easy. Just get the specs on a standard mast tube for the boat, & those of an in mast furling one. And then add the weight of a furler, plus a main to the tube's weight.
And a SWAG on the weight difference for your situation, call it 50lbs -60lbs, plus the sail. That's the weight penalty for the mast tube, & the furler, vs. a standard tube.

Keep in mind that;
- an in mast furling main is Always up there, & that weight works against your boat's stability & ability to make progress when you need it most
- you get more drag from the bigger tube, which plays to the above, also
- every pound aloft is like taking 5-7lbs out of your keel

Plus, there's the obvious. The aerodynamic efficency of a main without much roach is a lot lower, on top of the lost sail area.

Also, I can't say that I've Ever seen anyone with an in mast furling system, even touch on the subject of Trysails. Meaning, what the heck do you do if you ever need one?
As to whether or not that's an issue for you, only you can say, but.... Were your primary main to jam & have to be cut away, or to blow out in a stiff breeze. Then you don't have an option for a Plan B to my knowledge.
And when pondering the above question, if you're at all considering venturing away from home, or any real serious voyaging. Now, or possibly down the road. Then having a Trysail's a Real good idea.

Also, FWIW, the majority of delivery skippers aren't fans of the in mast systems. Regardless of make, age, or boat type. And they're the best pool of shorthanded experts out there, with experience on all types of boats.
Our Moody has in mast furling and came standard with a second track for a try sail.
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Old 29-03-2016, 06:10   #15
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Re: in-mar furling vs traditional mast

I am bias against RF mains if you are a performance cruiser. On our last boat the roach was so large it was 2 ft past the back stay. Going to windward a huge amount of the drive comes from the roach area so when you have a RF main with a hollow roach you give up a lot of performance. We are cruising now with a RF main and every time we are beating to windward I bitch and moan and no matter what I do with that sail it is still crap. Ok with that said the RF sail off the wind is workable and you roll out just the right amount so that's cool. When it comes to replace them they are dirt cheap because all they really are is a jib in disguise. My wife won't sail without a RF main so you know why I have it but I've come to sort of like it as long as I'm not going upwind in light air with another sailboat within sight.
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