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Old 27-12-2012, 10:07   #1
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Spinnaker Furling System Question

My first thread. I'm hoping someone can help provide some insight into the best/easiest/safest way to furl our MPS Spinnaker.

Our Oyster 53 came with a brand new MPS cruising chute with a snuffer and sock. To date, we have not yet used the sail since it's just the two of us (my wife and I) out there and the sail is MASSIVE. My concern is getting it down safely if and when the wind increases... and with me still onboard. So I'm looking at furling systems which will make the task easier and safer.

The first furling system that was recommended by Oyster Marine and Dolphin sails was the Karver Top Down furler. The system looks great, I watched the youtube video, but the cost is astronomical, so it won't happen.

The second system I've found is the ProFurl Spinex spinnaker furler which looks basically the same as the Karver system at less than 1/2 the cost.

And third, Profurl offers the ProFurl NEX flying sail furling system at about 1/2 the cost of the Spinex system. But, I'm not entirely sure this system is appropriate for an MPS sail.

The Karver system is simply not possible financially, the ProFurl Spinex would be a stretch.

My question: Does anyone have any experience with any of these systems including the snuffer and sock which we already have? Is one any better than another? There's a huge cost difference between the snuffer and the Karver system, 'just wondering if either of the Profurl systems will be money well-spent so that we can safely enjoy the use of the sail, or should I just stick with the snuffer, give it a try and hope for the best?

Many thanks in advance.

Ken
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Old 27-12-2012, 11:14   #2
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

If it were me, I'd use the snuffer for a season first to get good at it, then see if you want to upgrade. We have a snuffer and love it. We won't be upgrading due to cost, though the convenience of the furler would be fantastic. We also have a 35' boat, though, so the forces are quite different from your situation. I still think the snuffer should work, though, if you do it right.

First, you want to make sure you have a good snuffer and you understand how to use it. My sailmaker told me he feels that ATN is far and away the best, and I do love our new ATN snuffer. Way better than the crappy original one we had.

To hoist:
  1. Run your spinnaker sheets, make sure your spinnaker halyard is running free and attach it somewhere near where you will set up, and get the spinnaker bag up on deck and clipped to the lifelines. I always set up while sitting on the front of the cabin top.

    We have to hoist on Port tack since we have a starboard spinnker crane (the spinnaker block is offset to Starboard, and it twists up if we run the halyard over the top of the Genoa). If we really want to hoist on Stbd tack, we still hoist on Port tack, then gybe the socked sail by hand before raising the sock.
  2. Open up the spinnaker bag and you'll find the tack, clew, and head on top, right where you left them (after the last time you used it, you stuffed the sock in the bag, starting just below the head, but leaving the head out of the bag. You also made sure there were no twists as you stuffed). Tie or clip on the sheets, making sure you run them outside of everything.
  3. Attach and tension the tack line. You now have to make a choice of whether you're going to gybe the sail on the inside or outside, but that's another post.
  4. Drive the boat deep, almost running DDW, to blanket the Genoa and the spinnaker sock. Furl the Genoa. Clip the halyard on (running it outside the Genoa sheet), and hoist the spinnaker in the sock.
  5. Drive up to more of a broad reach so the wind can get in the spinnaker (even a beam reach on a very light day).
  6. Raise the sock and tension the sheet, more or less at the same time. As the wind catches the bottom of the sail, it will finish the job for you. The sail bunches up in the sock a bit sometimes in low wind and you may have to jimmy the sock up and down a bit or pull down on the luff, but this is easy to do and rare.
  7. Tie off the snuffing lines at a convenient place amidships. I use our midship docking cleat.
Notice you never went to the bow except when running the sheets (which can stay run for your whole trip) and to attach the tack line (which could also be set up to be available at the midship point).

Now the important bit: Taking it down.
  1. Drive down to blanket the spinnaker. Trim the sheet in until the clew is at midships where you will be working.
  2. Blow the tack, not the sheet. The spinnaker is now completely depowered, blanketed by the main and flapping like a flag.
  3. Pull down the sock and then drop the sock on the deck.
  4. Roll out the Genny and off you go.
We leave the spinnaker bag on deck clipped to the lifelines and the sheets run. With a bit of practice, you can have the spinnaker up or down in about a minute. Takes more like two minutes single handed because you have to go back and adjust the autopilot once.

That turned into a bit of a novel. Hope it helps.
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Old 27-12-2012, 12:01   #3
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

I do pretty much the same with a asy. spinnaker on a pole.
If you get a wind less day, either at anchor or on the dock, practice hoisting the kite in the sock, then raising the sock, and then reverse the process, at least you will discover any twists or other potential snags, and you'll be more confident on your real hoist.
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Old 27-12-2012, 12:42   #4
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

Great advise so far.

Some additional points.

I do not leave the bag clipped on deck any more. I had one bag torn off (I retrieved)and I lost a gennaker out of the bag at night (did not retrieve it).

The lazy sheet needs to be passed around the forestay and clear of the tack line. The sheet are attached to blocks near the stern and are fed from outside in. NO STOPPER KNOTS. I usually attach the sheet once the sail has been raised in the bag with the tack line attached. This avoids fouling the sheets in the dousing lines.

I also like ATN Tackers. The snap shackle need to be attached to the clew, in case you have to blow the tack.

Ideally the tack line should come back to cockpit, most are way to short. The nicest one I have use had a 2:1 purchase at the bow.

The key with a gennaker is to KEEP THE MAIN UP. You will need to blanket the gennaker as the wind pipes up. IF the wind is being blanketed in very light air, centre the main.

On a gybe, verify that the lazy sheet is laying across the pulpit, they have a nasty tendency to go under the boat.

I douse the sail with the tack and sheets still attached.

If you do a take down on the tack opposite to hoisting the sail, you will need to move the dousing line around the forestay.

My wife and I can fly a gennaker by ourselves.

This might seem like a lot work, but the gennaker is my favourite sail. For me it was a life saver (literally), when we used one to sail out of the Pacific high after a fishing net ate our transmission. (long story)

I have used furlers with code O's and find them quite fussy.
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Old 27-12-2012, 12:58   #5
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
The key with a gennaker is to KEEP THE MAIN UP. You will need to blanket the gennaker as the wind pipes up. IF the wind is being blanketed in very light air, centre the main.
Great advice! Seems you wouldn't want the main up if the wind pops up, but I have found that it is the only way to control the gennaker and get it down in one piece. The main stays up!
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Old 27-12-2012, 13:04   #6
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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Great advice! Seems you wouldn't want the main up if the wind pops up, but I have found that it is the only way to control the gennaker and get it down in one piece. The main stays up!
And while I think of it.

Just as you should reef the main as when you think about, get the gennaker down when you think about it. White caps are bad, I know.
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Old 27-12-2012, 13:17   #7
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

Agree it's a great sail. We have a lot of light wind in these parts, and that sail just brings the boat alive. So much fun and pretty to boot.
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Old 27-12-2012, 13:35   #8
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

I have ATN snuffers on VALIS (44 ft), and they do work reasonably well as long as you use the proper technique. Let me add to cwickham's point #6:
Quote:
Raise the sock and tension the sheet, more or less at the same time. As the wind catches the bottom of the sail, it will finish the job for you. The sail bunches up in the sock a bit sometimes in low wind and you may have to jimmy the sock up and down a bit or pull down on the luff, but this is easy to do and rare.
When the sail is filling and the snuffer starts to ride up on it's own, keep tension on the "sock raising" line. Otherwise it can get jammed in the block at the top of the snuffer.
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Old 27-12-2012, 14:13   #9
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

Lot's of great advice so far, please keep it coming.

I'm just having a difficult time picturing my wife and I heading down wind with the main sail out and the boom secured with the preventer line, and trying to douse a sail which is the size of Texas, by myself with the snuffer. At 145 lbs soaking wet, I can only apply limited down force; and I see my wife steering hard to starboard at some point when I say go a little to the left. Is my wife the only one out there who seems to have trouble with port-starboard, left-right thing? Me thinks I'm going to have to make this a semi-singlehanded operation in order to be successful and not get hurt.

I'm well aware of the force these spinnakers can generate when the wind picks up; the ratings on the ProFurl gear for our size boat is two tons.

Does anyone have any experience with the furling systems mentioned?

Thanks again.
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Old 27-12-2012, 14:29   #10
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Lot's of great advice so far, please keep it coming.

I'm just having a difficult time picturing my wife and I heading down wind with the main sail out and the boom secured with the preventer line, and trying to douse a sail which is the size of Texas, by myself with the snuffer. At 145 lbs soaking wet, I can only apply limited down force; and I see my wife steering hard to starboard at some point when I say go a little to the left. Is my wife the only one out there who seems to have trouble with port-starboard, left-right thing? Me thinks I'm going to have to make this a semi-singlehanded operation in order to be successful and not get hurt.

I'm well aware of the force these spinnakers can generate when the wind picks up; the ratings on the ProFurl gear for our size boat is two tons.

Does anyone have any experience with the furling systems mentioned?

Thanks again.
Fair enough. The autopilot will keep your boat on course, though. And there is close to zero downforce needed with the spinnaker blanketed and the tack detached. You're pulling it down over a flag, not a sail. I've never had to struggle with it at all. This is a finesse and skill thing, not a strength thing.
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:06   #11
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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And there is close to zero downforce needed with the spinnaker blanketed and the tack detached. You're pulling it down over a flag, not a sail. I've never had to struggle with it at all. This is a finesse and skill thing, not a strength thing.
The light bulb over my head is beginning to illuminate. Do I need to completely detach the tack line? How is this done with force on it from the sail, as I assume the tack line will follow back with a half turn around my windlass winch and be secured on a forward dock cleat. Or, do I need to have several turns on the windlass winch so that I can first untie the cleat, then let it out as I would with a jib sheet?

Please excuse my ignorance, the last time I flew a spinnaker was on my O'Day 20 back in 1982.
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:14   #12
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

As I mentioned I leave my tack line attached while dousing. Once the gennaker is blanketed by the main, it collapses and then it takes no effort to lower the dousing bag.

North Sails has a nice video

NorthSails - Gennaker and Snuffer instructions video - YouTube
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:23   #13
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

Down wind with the chute blanketed by the main, there is very little force on the sail, it will be collapsing at this stage. For the tack, get a quick release snap shackle, which you can open with a quick tug on the release line.
Honest, the sock will come down dead easy.
Just start off in in really light winds, and as soon as you think the wind is approaching your comfort level, then sock the chute.
First time I flew the kite on my boat I was two up, the next time I was single handing. Soon as I saw the tops of the waves breaking, I dropped the chute.
So long as you stay sensible, you'll be OK. The missus may be making the call before you
Auto pilot will really help.
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:29   #14
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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The light bulb over my head is beginning to illuminate. Do I need to completely detach the tack line? How is this done with force on it from the sail, as I assume the tack line will follow back with a half turn around my windlass winch and be secured on a forward dock cleat. Or, do I need to have several turns on the windlass winch so that I can first untie the cleat, then let it out as I would with a jib sheet?

Please excuse my ignorance, the last time I flew a spinnaker was on my O'Day 20 back in 1982.
ATN recommends blowing the tack (letting it all the way out), and I've been doing that method. Jackdale leaves it as-is. I prefer to let go the tack as it makes it easy to lower the sock as I'm sitting on the cabin top on the lee side by the shrouds. This is a dry, secure location in any kind of conditions I'd have a spinnaker up in.

You can buy shackles that open easily under pressure for the tack. You'd then go to the bow and stick a marlinspike in them to blow the tack. Or you can have a line run all the way aft through a clutch and just have the person in the cockpit release the clutch and let it run out.

I have only a short tack line that stays attached at the tack of the sail. It goes through a small turning block at the bow and then aft to the docking cleat. This means I need to go forward and undo it from the docking cleat and let it go. Not ideal, but it works for now (also means I have no way of tensioning it. I hadn't though of using the windlass for that... Good idea!)
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:49   #15
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Re: Spinnaker Furling System Question

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I'm just having a difficult time picturing my wife and I heading down wind with the main sail out and the boom secured with the preventer line, and trying to douse a sail which is the size of Texas, by myself with the snuffer.
Wonderblond and I have no trouble handling our A-kite with just the two of us. She's only 5'3" tall and in her mid-fifties, and she's usually the one on the snubber. Our boat's only a little smaller than yours.

You let the autopilot handle the steering and put one person on the foredeck (on the snuffer) and have the other work the halyard. Steer down just enough so that the clew dropps when the chute falls into the main's windshadow. Shift the pilot to AUTO while the foredeck person snuffs. Then blow the halyard and collect the sheets. We often lower our chute right into the bag so that it's ready to relaunch without needing to be repacked.

I'm not sure why you're using a preventer if you're sailing off the wind enough to use an asymmetrical. Security blanket? The only time we use a preventer is in light air with big swells, when there's not enough wind pressure to keep the boom on one side when the boat rocks.
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