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Old 12-11-2016, 16:50   #1
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Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

Hallo to everybody,
I had a boat in a joint ownership for 8 years. We split and sold our boat.
I will retire in about 4 months and will buy a boat for myself which will have its home port in Spain, in Vinarňs (130 nm south of Barcelona).
I am looking for a Beneteau Oceanis or Clipper 393 or 373 or a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i or 36/37, and I have been spending about 15 hours a week during the last 5 months surfing the net for searching my I will be living on.
I think I know quite well what I want, but there is one thing I hope to find some advice here. Since I will be single handing a lot, also on ocean crossings, I need a boat according to my/this needs.
My question is: Would you single hand sailors out there consider buying a boat with a furling main? A main that either rolls up in the mast or the boom.
I do consider it unwise, for if I would encounter a problem with the furling system in bad weather so that I would not be able to get the sail rolled in, I think that could be fatal in a real storm.
Am I over cautious?
I am not a sissy, and I think I am not inexperienced. Singlehanded from the mainland Spain to Ibiza (Balearics) twice alone with our boat.
We had a furling main on that one (in mast). We never encountered major problems with the furler, but some minor which we could fix.
Because a lot of the boats I mentioned above, I have looked at, do have furling mains.
I need some help to make up my mind, if I should skip all the boats with a furling main.
General question to all that have a furling main:
Did you ever encounter problems with getting the main rolled in? If so, how did you cope with it?
Thanks a lot in advance for your thoughts an input.
Greetings from Germany
Skipper Ingo
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Old 12-11-2016, 17:06   #2
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

We had a furling main for 5 years and NEVER EVER had a problem with it.
They work.
They work Great.
Go for it.
A furling Main is perfect for a single handing.
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Old 12-11-2016, 18:24   #3
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

I would go for boom furling over in-mast furling, but that's just me. If something goes wrong, I want it all on the level that I can work on it.

One thing to consider is that with in-boom furling, 99.9% of the problems that a occur are related to operator error, such as boom height not set correctly. If you're single-handing, and you follow proper procedure, you should be fine 99.9% of the time. In other words, the overall benefit likely outweighs the risk. Only you can make the final determination about what level of risk is acceptable.

I would however caution that you furl early if you expect bad weather. That's my MO when I'm single-handing, if only to give me a bit more time to manage things if any procedure goes pear-shaped for whatever reason.
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Old 13-11-2016, 00:22   #4
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
We had a furling main for 5 years and NEVER EVER had a problem with it.
They work.
Thanx, Cotemar.
Was it in the boom or in the mast?
Greetings
Skipper Ingo
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Old 13-11-2016, 01:06   #5
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

I single hand a lot and in mast reefing all done from the cockpit is very easy, indeed if we ever change the boat then I will be looking for in mast reefing again.

Before we bought the yacht I wasn't sure, so took her for a trial as part of the purchase agreement. When I saw how easy it was to furl and unfurl by the 75 yr old owner the decision was made. We can now reef quickly and easily if the wind looks like increasing during a squall and then let it out again in seconds afterwards. This means we are more likely to stick a reef in early just in case. We have 3 marks on the foot of the sail to give approximate reefing points but can then choose these or even half a reef if we want.

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Old 13-11-2016, 01:16   #6
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

Our current boat has in-mast furling and my next boat will likely have in-mast furling as I will be doing more singlehanded sailing.

A good friend and very experienced NZ sailor who sails extensively siinglehanded (bluewater) on his mid-40' Moody with in-mast furling.

You'll get plenty of conflicting advice on both sides of the argument. Good luck.
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Old 13-11-2016, 03:57   #7
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

I use a in mast furling for over 20 years with no problems on our 45ft sloop. The main advantages for me:
- easy and fast reefing -- because it's easy you do it in time!
- from the cockpit
- if the weather turns bad fast -- its fast to stow your main.
- when the sail is in the mast --- the sail is nicely protected.
- beause its easy to unfurl you do it instead of starting the engine.
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Old 13-11-2016, 05:16   #8
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

We have the same boat as the previous poster (Bristol 45.5) with the same Hood furler (I assume). We love the furler after close to 40,000 miles. Great for balancing the rig to make life easier for the Monitor vane. We have had two or three minor jams that were cleared within five minutes or so. In each of these cases it was because we did something wrong - haven't had a problem for several years as we now know what to avoid
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Old 13-11-2016, 05:30   #9
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

This is a IMOCA racer, the top in what regards racing solo boats:

As you can see they use lots of frontal furling sails of different sides.

None of the many boats use a furler main, being in a in mas furling main (that would have problems in performance regarding battens and weight up when furled) not even a in boom furling that would not have any of those problems but would add weight, complication and a superior potential for Jamming.

Saying all that, on big yacht normally boom furling is used due to the size of sails but on a small boats there is no justification for in boom furling except a superior easiness of use and most of all the time one takes to put all the sail properly stored on the lazy bag while coming to port and I believe that one is really the most annoying point regarding traditional reefing and the biggest advantage regarding in mast furling.
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Old 13-11-2016, 06:08   #10
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

I singlehand our Oyster 53 with in mast furling all the time without any problems.
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Old 13-11-2016, 06:18   #11
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pirate Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

No problems at all.. once you have the 'balance' worked out for smooth reefing.
On one boat I had to use a boat hook to be able to hit both the required hydraulic winch buttons at the same time.. courtesy of some imaginative re-wiring/routing to get sufficient winches working to run the rig..
after the second time it was a doddle.. so no biggie..
Boom or mast.. they each have their idiosycrose's..
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Old 13-11-2016, 06:40   #12
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

To the OP's original question about "safety". I consider my furling main (had both boom and in-mast in different boats) to be a huge safety benefit:

1. It removes the most frequent reason to leave the safety of the cockpit when off-shore. People over age 50 don't have the reflexes and balance they did at age 20. In 40 years of sailing with other reefing systems (jiffy, slab, and so on) even the ones with lines lead to the cockpit hung up about 1 in 3 times on something requiring a trip to the mast. This has never happened with my in-mast or boom furler.

2. It is so easy to reef that you reef early and don't carry too much sail for the conditions. You can also fine tune the sail area. If a 12" reef will balance the helm, that's what I do. Finally, the reefed main has much better shape than a partially furled genoa. We always reef the main first. Better boat speed in bad weather is a big safety plus.
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Old 13-11-2016, 07:07   #13
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

What about weight aloft with in mast furling?
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Old 13-11-2016, 07:45   #14
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
What about weight aloft with in mast furling?
Assuming the mast was designed for furling and its not a bolt on extra, I think the weight difference is minor. The 30ft x 1" pole the main connects to is aluminium and the sail on our 31 ft yacht is actually quite light, being a masthead rig the main is small and cut flat for reefing plus no battens or cars.

The main is spending another winter on the mast nicely wound away and well protected. The genoa comes down though, seen too many shred themselves in a winter gale.

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Old 13-11-2016, 08:43   #15
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Re: Is a furling main safe when singlehanding?

In mast furling done singlehanded on a 53 foot sailboat in 18 seconds from the safety of the cockpit. Try that with slap reefing.
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