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Old 11-10-2017, 17:03   #1
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Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

I understand the appeal to a furling main, but in mast is down right scary!

Everyone says "it's gotten so much better"... better implies there's still failure. And when you've got the mast partially furled in and it jams if you've got to reduce area more than what are you going to do???

My astonishment with people's obsession with in mast furling lead me to talk to some riggers with a booth next to mine at the sail show this past weekend. And they confirmed all my suspicions and made some other good points I hadn't thought about other than safety... (but why do there need to be other options above safety, shouldn't that be the primary concern???)

After hanging out with the riggers for a few days and drinking many beers together we talked about a few main points that you should probably consider when thinking about a furling headsail:

Pros to boom furling:
-full battens (saves on sail cost overtime)
-sail can be dropped even if furled jams! Then you flake it like you would any other main)
-accessibility (if the sail does jam you can fit your hands in and adjust it safely on deck)
-manual override (electric winch is customary, but if you've gotta get down and dirty to crank it you can)

Negatives:
-cost (its expensive, about $20k expensive, BUT in boom mains can last over twice as long as in mast, also the hardware CAN be taken with you to your next boat and the old boom can be put back on)
-it's bulky (but you're really not supposed to hit your head on them anyway!)

If you don't have the money for in boom furling get yourself some lazy jacks and a good pack! They work great, and won't be a safety concern.

If you're too lazy to handle lazy jacks and too cheap to get in boom furling go buy a power boat.

Sorry for the rant, but it had to happen! I've been frustrated with the in mast furling obsession for a while.
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:34   #2
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

had both on the charter base I workes on in the 90ies: in-boom was terrible (angle between boom & mast had to be 150% correct, boat had to be headed into the wind, if necessary with engine, to reef), in-mast worked very well with only 1 jam in 3 years and that was on a retrofit-behind-the-mast system
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Old 12-10-2017, 05:01   #3
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

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Originally Posted by FutureStories View Post
I understand the appeal to a furling main, but in mast is down right scary!
The ability to reef from the cockpit in bad weather is in my opinion a major contribution to safety at sea, says I :-)

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Originally Posted by FutureStories View Post
If you don't have the money for in boom furling get yourself some lazy jacks and a good pack! They work great, and won't be a safety concern.
So how do I attach a slab reefing main to the mast if the yacht previously had in mast reefing?

I have just bought a new in mast main, what should I do with that?

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Old 12-10-2017, 05:18   #4
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

Our Hood in-mast furling main has worked flawlessly for over six years without a single jam or close call. The main sail furls on any point of sail at anytime it's needed right from the safety of the cockpit by just pushing a few buttons. What's not to like about it? Manual systems also if needed. Most of the problems encountered when furling mains are used are caused by operator error or incompetence, then blamed on the system.

The main can be deployed in 30 seconds, and furled in less than 20 seconds.

Note: We've previosly had a boat with slab reefing and a Hunter 450 with Profurl boom roller furling, and our opinion is that in-mast furling is by far the safest, most reliable and easiest to use.


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Old 12-10-2017, 05:18   #5
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

I'm with you, slab reefing for me all day long if I have a choice. I charter rather than own, but I seek out charter boats that don't have in mast furling (which is getting harder to do all the time).

Another point I think you missed out is that when in mast furlers are reefed, you have more weight aloft than if the sail is stored in the boom.

I don't buy any ease of use arguments either, I'd rather spend my time and effort cranking on halyard winches safely in the cockpit than tied to the mast trying to make a jammed in main sail go back in its box in a blow.

Maybe if it's your boat and its your sail you make sure it works, but on borrowed boats, its a liability, I've found.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:29   #6
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

I sailed 2 days the other day on a boat with in mast furling for the first time. It was a sister boat to mine so I feel I got a good comparison to slab reef and the in-mast furling. I didn't find the in mast furling to be any better than slab reefing and in took a lot longer to do since the boat didn't have an electric winch (wipes that safety pro). We did get a jam, it was easy to clear, but it was still a jam and we were glad it happened while still on the mooring ball.

Guess the bottom line for me is that now I'm not in the wish I had it world as it didn't seem a plus compared to my slab reefing on the same model boat.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:42   #7
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

I wondering if in-mast furling has come of age.

I see boats circumnavigating with them without any problems, so perhaps it is 99% safe.
Problem is, when you jump out of a building you are 99% alive.

Several years ago the same subject was discussed, but about the crazy people who preferred furling genoas rather than hank-ons, remember?

The jury may still be out, but do you know how many boats I saw at the show last weekend that had regular mains?
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:50   #8
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

This is the first boat with in-mast furling Iíve owned. I mostly singlehand with my wife aboard and being able to infinitely reef from the cockpit is fantastic.

The boat weighs 12 tons, so additional weight aloft doesnít seem to be an issue.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:06   #9
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

Are we really going to do this all over again just a couple of weeks later? Traditional Main vs In-mast Furling
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:07   #10
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

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Are we really going to do this all over again just a couple of weeks later? Traditional Main vs In-mast Furling - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
Yes, is that a problem?
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:46   #11
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

"Sorry for the rant, but it had to happen! I've been frustrated with the in mast furling obsession for a while. "

I've never understood why some people get so upset about other's choices. Maybe I've missed the recent spate of front page headlines with all of the people lost at sea because of their in-mast furling systems that justifies the outrage.

Just a question though. Do you, or the riggers that you 'hung around with' at the boat show, happen to have a financial interest associated with in-boom furling?

I would argue that much of the evaluation hinges on the size of boat being considered and the use, so general statements such as the OP are virtually worthless. Interestingly, in most of these threads, the majority of those who say they like in-mast furling, have recent and substantial experience with them. Most of those who don't like them, are generally passing along their second/third hand knowledge ('the riggers I talked to', etc.), brief experiences on a charter boat, or older systems with now well-documented problems. There are exceptions, but I think this covers 95% of what's been posted in the numerous previous threads on this.

As for the safety argument, I'd actually suggest that a well engineered and maintained system that reduces risk (ie. deck work) for 99.5+% of the furling activities IS a safer system for shorthanded offshore sailing than slab reefing. The risk of jamming in heavy weather is there, but is remote (as demonstrated by the multitudes of in-mast furling systems safely arriving into offshore ports daily worldwide) and can arguably be easier to resolve in an emergency than a jammed car (also remote, but possible) on a fully battened slab reef main.

While I don't have in-mast furling as a must have on my list for a next boat (a good slab reefing system with lazy jacks works for me also), a good boat with a well-engineered in-mast system wouldn't be discounted in any way for me, particularly in boats over 45'.

All that said, if you like slab reefing or in-boom furling better for your personal reasons. Go for it. It would be a boring ocean if we all ended up arriving with the same 'perfect boat'.

I know it's wasted breath, but just my 'two bits'......
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:04   #12
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

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Yes, is that a problem?
Only for the person asking the question. Because a lot of people spent quite a bit of time on thoughtful replies in the last thread, and probably won't write the same stuff all over again just two weeks later.

What could be new here, however, is not in-mast vs slab reefing, which has been thoroughly discussed, but in-mast vs in-boom furling, which has not been done so much.
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:10   #13
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobie_ind View Post
"Sorry for the rant, but it had to happen! I've been frustrated with the in mast furling obsession for a while. "

I've never understood why some people get so upset about other's choices. Maybe I've missed the recent spate of front page headlines with all of the people lost at sea because of their in-mast furling systems that justifies the outrage.

Just a question though. Do you, or the riggers that you 'hung around with' at the boat show, happen to have a financial interest associated with in-boom furling?

I would argue that much of the evaluation hinges on the size of boat being considered and the use, so general statements such as the OP are virtually worthless. Interestingly, in most of these threads, the majority of those who say they like in-mast furling, have recent and substantial experience with them. Most of those who don't like them, are generally passing along their second/third hand knowledge ('the riggers I talked to', etc.), brief experiences on a charter boat, or older systems with now well-documented problems. There are exceptions, but I think this covers 95% of what's been posted in the numerous previous threads on this.

As for the safety argument, I'd actually suggest that a well engineered and maintained system that reduces risk (ie. deck work) for 99.5+% of the furling activities IS a safer system for shorthanded offshore sailing than slab reefing. The risk of jamming in heavy weather is there, but is remote (as demonstrated by the multitudes of in-mast furling systems safely arriving into offshore ports daily worldwide) and can arguably be easier to resolve in an emergency than a jammed car (also remote, but possible) on a fully battened slab reef main.

While I don't have in-mast furling as a must have on my list for a next boat (a good slab reefing system with lazy jacks works for me also), a good boat with a well-engineered in-mast system wouldn't be discounted in any way for me, particularly in boats over 45'.

All that said, if you like slab reefing or in-boom furling better for your personal reasons. Go for it. It would be a boring ocean if we all ended up arriving with the same 'perfect boat'.

I know it's wasted breath, but just my 'two bits'......
A good post.

The OP would be well served reading the recent thread on this question, linked above.

As far as in-boom furling is concerned:

Very few people here have tried it, so we don't get a lot of comments about it. If it were better than in-mast furling, I bet it would be a whole lot more popular than it is. It's been around for decades.
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:43   #14
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

It seems to be akin with the love/hate relationship people have with there onboard generators. Love 'em when they work, hate 'em when they don't.

I have yet to meet any boat owner who has had in-mast furling for a considerable amount of time, and has yet to have some difficulty deploying or retracting at least once.

One can argue that this difficulty is due to operator error, perhaps improper halyard tension, perhaps improper topping lift (boom angle), perhaps wind not head on, (I've heard all of these) are critical.

Regardless what the cause, when all hell breaks loose, one may need to douse the main, NOW, and no excuses.

This is akin to the foresail furler considerations 30 years ago.

Since then, most have learned not to close the furling drum.

I have yet to see in-mast furling where the entire mechanism, INCLUDING the entire sail, isn't enclosed, hence, the problem.

Here's a little story about my most poignant experience with in-mast furling.

A very good "regular" customer of mine had a 2007 Beneteau Oceanis 46 with in-mast furling.

He absolutely loved it, sailed a lot, and took the boat back and forth from Lake Ontario to the Bahamas with his entire family a couple of times (sometimes on a trailer as he wasn't a fan of ditch running, he was a sailor at heart)...

...until one day in 2015, in Lake Ontario, when a few miles from his home port, when he had his family on board, a squall blew through, and the mainsail got stuck half way in, and nothing could be done to free it.

I managed to get the sail free, after 2 hours of frigging, while tied to the dock, but upon testing, it continued to jam occasionally, no matter what I or he did. This after him using it flawlessly, extensively, for many years.

So I called in a renowned rigger, who replaced the furler bearings, and had the vertical battens removed from the mainsail, declaring that these were a common problem when they took a "set", to get it working properly again.

This lost a couple months of our boating season, after which, he put the boat up for sale.

He insisted that the broker include, "Professionally serviced by Sheen Marine", in the vessel description of the listing. (He was a retired design engineer at Boeing, so yes, this was more complicated than rocket science ;-).

One of the best customers I've ever had, rely nice fella, sorry to see him retire from sailing.
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:59   #15
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Re: Seriously, why do people like in mast furling?

"I have yet to meet any boat owner who has had in-mast furling for a considerable amount of time, and has yet to have some difficulty deploying or retracting at least once.". Ramblinrod

RR,

Read post #4. We have no complaints and have had no jams or problems other than having to replace a set of swivel bearings which dried and wore out after 16 years. But even that did not cause a service issue.
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