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Old 18-01-2014, 17:50   #1
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In Mast Mainsail Furling System

Just finished a survey and sea trial on a 1990 B44. The boat has Z-Spar mast and boom. During the sea trail, the owner could not get the mainsail to extend all the way out. The best he could get was about 3/4 of the way. I attempted but could not do any better. It appears the sail "snags" or gets jammed near the top while winching it out (extremely difficult to unfurl). It does furl back into the mast, but takes tremendous effort to grind it back in, as well. The sail is 10+ years old. The furling lines were in really bad shape, as were the cars on top of the boom for the outhaul. Were we doing something wrong? The owner sailed this boat all the way from North Carolina, down through the canal and then up to Mexico. He said it would hang-up like that 1 out of 10 times but would usually work after furling it back in and then letting it out again.

Since the mast and boom are made by Z-Spar, is it safe to assume the the in-mast furling mechanism is also a Z-Spar design/product? The schematics I have found online do not match up to this system's appearance. Can the furling unit be serviced through the very limited access of the mast or would the whole rig need to come done to repair/replace? Furthermore, can a new sail be bent on without taking the mast down? Any idea on cost of a new in mast furling mainsail? Could the mast be retrofitted back to a conventional sail?

I would greatly appreciate any feedback, as this is what will make or break my decision of becoming owner of this particular Brewer 44. My biggest fear is that the whole furling unit/sail are shot and I would have to replace the entire mast/sail setup, which I certainly cannot afford to do.

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 18-01-2014, 18:11   #2
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

Well, Ok, we are Z-Spar dealers here in st marteen , Z spar is a big`pile of ****, sorry if sounds rude, the furler is made it by Zspar , few points to check, see if the mast is straight, any excesive tension in the backstay or to much rake aft and the furler is compromised, if you want to dismantle or replace the furler the whole thing need to come down , and i tell you this because there is no riggers want it to spend a whole day in the bosum chair, and if you found a rigger willing to mess with the furler in place, well good luck with that, next thing to check is the top swivel and bottom bearings, and the best way to check it is to drop the sail and feel the furler or turn the furler with the hands, any weird thing or noise or friction call for new bearings parts, last isue is no, you cant fit a regular sail in a in mast furling, and im sorry to give you to many bad news.....
Do you check the sail condition?
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Old 18-01-2014, 19:36   #3
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

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Well, Ok, we are Z-Spar dealers here in st marteen , Z spar is a big`pile of ****, sorry if sounds rude, the furler is made it by Zspar , few points to check, see if the mast is straight, any excesive tension in the backstay or to much rake aft and the furler is compromised, if you want to dismantle or replace the furler the whole thing need to come down , and i tell you this because there is no riggers want it to spend a whole day in the bosum chair, and if you found a rigger willing to mess with the furler in place, well good luck with that, next thing to check is the top swivel and bottom bearings, and the best way to check it is to drop the sail and feel the furler or turn the furler with the hands, any weird thing or noise or friction call for new bearings parts, last isue is no, you cant fit a regular sail in a in mast furling, and im sorry to give you to many bad news.....
Do you check the sail condition?
Thanks Neilpride for the comments. I was afraid that would be the case with Z-Spar.

To answer your question, the sail condition is fair to poor. Probably closer to poor, as it is worn and quite soft. Can an OLD, worn-out sail cause troubles with these in-mast furlers?

Can the bearing parts be serviced through the mast with furler in place? The 4 inspection ports and slot are really small on the mast in that area. Seems like access would be really difficult.

Finally, what would a ball park price be on a new mast/boom for a cutter rigged Brewer 44 with a standard mainsail setup?
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Old 18-01-2014, 19:37   #4
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

The sail is probably bagged out and if you do not take great care in furling it will jam coming out. If you really like the boat and this is the only problem get a rigger and sailmaker to look at it.
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Old 18-01-2014, 19:41   #5
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

A new mast and boom will make the sale unattractive. Check the sail. A bagged out sail will really screw up a furling main. Also if you are unfamiliar with the proper procedure for using a furling main you will have problems. Talk to a sailmaker.
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Old 18-01-2014, 20:40   #6
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

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A new mast and boom will make the sale unattractive. Check the sail. A bagged out sail will really screw up a furling main. Also if you are unfamiliar with the proper procedure for using a furling main you will have problems. Talk to a sailmaker.
Thanks Vasco for the input. There are NO sail makers or rigging inspectors (that I know of) where this boat is lying.

I hate to roll the dice, but we really like the boat (my wife might even LOVE the boat). I'm just trying to be practical and avoid any MAJOR surprises that could kill our cruising plans.

Thanks.
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Old 18-01-2014, 21:02   #7
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

We had a z-spar system and had the same problem. In our case it was a very stretched out sail that my dad figured "still had a year or two left (for about 5 years). Frankly I am not a fan of in mast furling for a lot of reasons, this being one of them.
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Old 18-01-2014, 21:44   #8
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

if you have incurable boat lust for the boat, fail it for the mast furler not working right. Then make a new offer taking into account that you will have to have a new mainsail. And I'd seriously suggest getting rid of in-mast furling. They do jam up and it is always a hassle. A bigger hassle if you don't like going aloft or fixing things. But you will need a new mainsail in any event. New sails are wonderful!

Jim and I are in our mid-70's, and we have plain old slab reefing on our mainsail. Our mast is 65 ft. high from the deck (not counting the VHF antenna), and the boom is 17 ft long, so you can guesstimate the size of the main, and it has 3 reefs.

Ann
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Old 18-01-2014, 21:44   #9
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

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Originally Posted by FamilyCircus View Post
Thanks Neilpride for the comments. I was afraid that would be the case with Z-Spar.

To answer your question, the sail condition is fair to poor. Probably closer to poor, as it is worn and quite soft. Can an OLD, worn-out sail cause troubles with these in-mast furlers?

Can the bearing parts be serviced through the mast with furler in place? The 4 inspection ports and slot are really small on the mast in that area. Seems like access would be really difficult.

Finally, what would a ball park price be on a new mast/boom for a cutter rigged Brewer 44 with a standard mainsail setup?

The bearing in the drum bottom could be ok to replace , the top is another history, if you take a look at the window in the mast, close where the plastic coil rest, you can see actually the balls in the race bearing, for some reason some people choose to spray oil there or worst grease, and the balls work in the same position until are worn , same reason for not use any grease or oil in any batten car , just water...

This furlers like crispy fresh sails and bearings in order, you can get a mix of both, some worn bearings and the old sail making furling and unfurl dificult..

Huu a new mast for a brewer 44?? expensive!!! if this help, we change a mast in a lagoon 40 because the owner decide to install a windgenerator in the top , kinda a air marine,some time ago, with the bad luck that the positive wire run all the way outside of the pvc inner tube for wiring, the wire chafe , and just figurate, electrolisis everywhere, new mast shipped from the factory around 40000 euros, include the rigging...

What you can do is to get a deal with the previous owner and get a discount and service the furler properly , is not a really big deal, with the mast down you get the oportunity to inspect lot of things, get the furler in order, and enjoy the boat...the brewer 44 is a great boat..
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Old 18-01-2014, 22:31   #10
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

The other option is to retrofit the boat with a battcar system. I have yet to meet a mast that couldn't take one. And while they are expensive, they work great, and will solve the furling problems.
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Old 18-01-2014, 23:12   #11
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

Of course if your in a more popular sailing location you could find a used mast. Saw an ad the other day for a 60 footer with boom, spreaders and standing rigging for $1200 or best offer. It would take some work and a a lot of newer bits I'm sure but it's not undo-able.
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Old 19-01-2014, 15:37   #12
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

Thank you all for the additional input. I think we are going to move forward with the boat, pending a survey allowance for the mainsail and furler issues.
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Old 20-01-2014, 03:56   #13
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

Worth checking the angle of the boom to the mast as well, our likes to be 90 degrees to the mast when furling the main. In mast reefing seems to be like Marmite, you either love it or not, we love ours.

The good news is a new main sail will be cheaper than than slab reefing because its simpler to make, it will also last because the sail is neatly stored inside the mast out of the elements and not squashed on the boom, no stay pack required either.

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Old 20-01-2014, 04:30   #14
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

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Worth checking the angle of the boom to the mast as well, our likes to be 90 degrees to the mast when furling the main. In mast reefing seems to be like Marmite, you either love it or not, we love ours.

The good news is a new main sail will be cheaper than than slab reefing because its simpler to make, it will also last because the sail is neatly stored inside the mast out of the elements and not squashed on the boom, no stay pack required either.

Pete
Indeed. Storage of the sail inside the mast is a very great advantage of in-mast furling. The sail is stored rolled-up with no folds or creases with nearly perfect protection from weather and UV, and no effort flaking or struggling with sail ties, sail covers, etc. I suppose for many sailors this alone would justify its existence.

For me the other big advantage of in-mast furling is for tough weather -- infinitely variable reefing down to the tiniest scrap of mainsail you might want. It's awkward and even dangerous to rig a storm trisail when the weather has really gone bad -- with in-mast furling you have one built in which can be deployed from the cockpit. Plus that, you can reef (or unreef) without heading into the wind, which is a particular advantage when conditions are bad. On top of all of that, the deeply reefed in-mast furling main is aerodynamically better because there is no pile of sail on the boom.

On the downside, as others have said, roachless in-mast furling mains are quite a bit worse aerodynamically and can't be trimmed as well. And lastly, if they jam, it can be pretty horrific. If your sails are in good condition and you know what you're doing, jams are exceedingly rare, but they do sometimes happen. I've had two jams in five years, the last one last September while crossing the Channel with Pete7. It was not too fun. I had my mailsail recut last year, and as a result it no longer rolls in so smoothly as before. Time for a new mainsail ($$$$).
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Old 20-01-2014, 04:44   #15
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Re: In Mast Mainsail Furling System

I think its a deal breaker.

I would love in mast furling, but i dont have it and have no real experience with it. But it seems to me to have been a developing technology. To buy one 25 years old would be too early in its development for my liking. And if it doesnt work it means it needs to be replaced imho. And thats expensive.

Move on!
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