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Old 12-08-2017, 14:19   #16
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Paul L,

It took us only two hours yesterday to completely rebuild the upper swivel with new bearings and grease which included two trips up the mast.... did it all ourselves with help from a guest onboard. Very easy to do, and we didn't even need to remove and fold the mainsail to perform the task. All rebuilding was done at boom level.

So, we've experienced no failures of any sort since 2002 and now we're all set for the next ??, or however many years until the new bearings wear out. What we experienced was the worn bearings falling out of the race, not a furling failure.

But thanks so much for pointing out that the furlings systems do in fact need some servicing. I'd neglected to grease the upper bearings over the past six years of boat ownership, thinking that they were sealed bearings. Other furling system owners should check their upper swivels annually when the main sail comes down and gets stored for winter.

Now everything is better than new.

Ken
I bet that repair was easier and faster in a quite anchorage rather than a 1000 miles at sea with the wind piping up and seas rolling Lucky you found the issue while in Civilization.
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Old 12-08-2017, 15:45   #17
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Crewed with the solo owner bringing his Jeanneau 49 home from the south pacific. He owns two boat yards and outfitted this new boat exactly how he wanted to cruise with his family for a couple years. Certainly kept to the traditional halyard, lazyjacks and all lines including reefing to the cockpit. I reefed once on night watch in a squall, piece of cake.
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Old 12-08-2017, 17:43   #18
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Re: Furling Mainsails

One point yet unmentioned is that in mast furling will cause your boat to be more tender, & to have a lower ultimate stability, due to the increased weight aloft. Particularly due to the heavier mast tube itself, but also due to the fact that you always have the entire main fully hoisted, furled or not.

Personally, if I had one, I'd miss the dozen or so mainsail tuning controls/options which go with a standard mast, & the numerous corollary ones that go along with same for shaping & tuning your headsails.

For example, I know that for Dockhead, getting the headstay tensions to be optimal on his cutter rigged, in mast furler, was making him a bit crazy. As once set, they couldn't be adjusted without a serious session with the wrenches, followed by sailing to check their tensions. And often a repeat or two of the process after this, in order to get it "correct". Meaning correct for the local & passage winds he'd be encountering regularly.

Whereas with an adjustable backstay, runners, & headstay adjusters themselves, you pretty much have infinite & instant tuning options. And given a reasonably bendy mast, a hydraulic backstay adjuster, plus a few other basic tuning controls, you can remove or add almost as much power to the main as any 1 reef does, in about 30 sec. This without adding much drag or heeling moment to the sail.

Also from an efficencieny standpoint, there's no comparison between the 2 types of mains. To include which one induces more heeling, & drag, per amount of drive it produces.

Plus, I'm thinking the reefing speed advantage of the furling mains is a bit overstated. Assuming you have a well setup system on a standard main. Since with the latter, you needn't leave the cockpit, & it & might take you 30-60 sec longer to put in or shake out a reef. Not a big handicap in my book, especially given what you gain.

Much of the "speed" of reefing a furling main is often attributable to judicious use of powered winches. Which when the same are used for conventional mains, it cuts down a lot on the differences in ease & speed of reefing between the two.
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Old 13-08-2017, 11:15   #19
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Re: Furling Mainsails

OK, I get the reefing advantage. Considering human nature, though, I don't think that's why in boom/in mast is so popular. Humans, in general, look for the easiest way and then rationalize all the other good reasons to do something. (Maybe I'm a cynic. ) That's my problem here. I just don't think it's any easier so I figure I must be doing something wrong. My first exposure was a charter Jenneau with a furling drum. Coming back into Marina Del Rey, the furling line came off the drum so i sat offshore figuring out the design and getting the line back on with about a half a sail out. I was not impressed. Second was a charter IP with, in my opinion, a far better and more reliable design, but still not much easier to operate.
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Old 13-08-2017, 11:57   #20
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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OK, I get the reefing advantage. Considering human nature, though, I don't think that's why in boom/in mast is so popular. Humans, in general, look for the easiest way and then rationalize all the other good reasons to do something. (Maybe I'm a cynic. ) That's my problem here. I just don't think it's any easier so I figure I must be doing something wrong. My first exposure was a charter Jenneau with a furling drum. Coming back into Marina Del Rey, the furling line came off the drum so i sat offshore figuring out the design and getting the line back on with about a half a sail out. I was not impressed. Second was a charter IP with, in my opinion, a far better and more reliable design, but still not much easier to operate.
If you don't like furling main sails.... then don't buy one. 'Seems like an easy enough problem for you to solve.
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Old 13-08-2017, 11:59   #21
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Some of the furling main thing is manufacturers playing to the lowest common denominator. In that anymore there are a lot of non-sailors, or barely sailors, buying fairly large boats. And they want it simple, & comfortable, even at the expense of many other virtuous characteristics. So, that which sells the most wins. Even when that means dumbing down sailing a bit. I mean look at "navigation" these days. That's another prime example right there.
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Old 13-08-2017, 12:18   #22
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Re: Furling Mainsails

How many times have we discussed this?

Furling mains have some serious advantages and some serious disadvantages. You pays your money and takes your choices.

I have tens of thousands of miles on furling mains, and tens of thousands of miles on full batten mains, so I have had time and experience enough to form an opinion. And that is that furling mains are a good choice for some people, and not so much for others. Like so many things.

In general, I think where it breaks down is here. If you sail in an area where there is almost always enough wind, and very rarely too little wind, and ESPECIALLY if you sail far offshore where you might not always get to choose your weather, furling mains can be a good option. That's because the performance loss of a furling main disappears when you get into weather where you need to reef. A reefed furling main will outperform a reefed full batten main, because furling mains get flatter and flatter as they furl in.

But for anyone sailing in more benign latitudes, where you find yourself often wishing you had more wind, and trying to eke out every bit of power you can get in light winds, and especially if you are sailing coastally and usually able to choose your weather, furling mains are a very BAD option.

Furling main pluses:

1. Ideal storage of the sail inside the mast, greatly extending life of the sail, making it more feasible to have really good sails. No flaking or covering the sail after use. Huge plus.

2. Infinite reefing without any need to head up -- extremely useful in strong weather, and also extremely useful in variable wind. You can shake out the reef effortlessly and in a second when the wind drops, then furl back in effortlessly when it pipes up again, so you can easily have the optimum amount of sail up, improving performance.

3. Better and better performance as you reef -- sail gets flatter. So you can get really good performance in weather which is too strong for your full sail plan -- keep reefing the main but leave the headsails alone. So you get a far higher practical upper wind range for a given sail plan -- huge plus if you sail in a windy area.

OK, those are the main pluses, and enough of an advantage that practically all large cruising boats made in the last 20 years and used in the UK, have furling mains. Like 98%. You will find the best sailors in the world in the sailing-crazed UK, so you should take note when they have an almost unanimous preference for furling mains, on non-racing boats.

Now, the minuses:

1. Big loss of performance due to no roach in the sail. Get some of it back with a good high tech sail and vertical battens, which allows at least a straight luff. This is a fatal drawback, in my opinion, for people sailing in low latitudes.

2. A lot of windage and weight aloft -- also a very big drawback.

3. You can't bend the mast for tuning the rig. Big drawback.


So there you have it -- you pays your own money and makes your own choices.

I have been quite happy with in-mast furling on my present boat and have enjoyed its advantages in tens of thousands of miles of sailing between 50N and above 60N, often in quite strong weather. I blow by many quite hot racing boats when the wind is up, and they have had to start reefing.

There is no difference, in my experience, in reliability between in-mast and full batten mains, so for me this is not a factor.

But my next boat will have a roachy full batten main. Because I really care about sailing performance and I especially care about getting upwind. I really care about weight aloft. Where I sail, full batten mains have some serious disadvantages compared to furling mains, but after a lot of reflection I have decided to take on board those disadvantages for the sake, especially, of windage and weight aloft. Make of that what you will!
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Old 13-08-2017, 12:57   #23
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Re: Furling Mainsails

And where in this do you rank the part where furling mains tend to lose their shape faster, & thus have shorter service lives? As the cost to replace a main's no small matter.
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Old 13-08-2017, 13:18   #24
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Unciv, I'm curious: do you agree with DH's statement that furling mains are better than FB mains when reefed? I understand his point about flattening in the furler, but the sail shape (plan view) is still inferior and has a potentially lower lift to drag ratio, especially when you view the whole rig with its fatter tube and possibly poorer cross sectional shape. And it is (I think) possible to assure a flatter FB shape when reefed, is it not?

Your thoughts? (And those of others as well, co course)

Jim
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Old 13-08-2017, 13:58   #25
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Dockhead, your comment on reefs being flatter intrigues me. For a jib, the result is painfully opposite -- where possible, I slab reef my main or take it down in order to avoid the belly of a partially furled jib, especially upwind. I've never sailed with anything but lazy jacks, but always assumed lousy reef shape was a drawback of in mast furling.

I currently coastal cruise in a Sabre 34, and love slab reefing. However, we are shopping for our next boat, a larger for extended and offshore sailing with limited crew, and slab/boom/mast reefing is an area of discussion.
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Old 13-08-2017, 14:09   #26
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Re: Furling Mainsails

You can have a full battened furling main, with a lot of roach.
Just not in mast though. Has a whole different set of advantages and disadvantages of course. If there were one best anchor, sail or anything else, that is pretty much all you would see.
It however is as near as I can tell pretty much un tuneable if that is a word
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Old 13-08-2017, 14:13   #27
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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And where in this do you rank the part where furling mains tend to lose their shape faster, & thus have shorter service lives? As the cost to replace a main's no small matter.
I have not observed that. I believe actually that furling mains last much longer than full batten ones, for several reasons -- they are stored rolled up and in perfect protection, rather than folded and flaked; they don't have as much gear sewn and attached to them; and the stresses are better distributed when they are reefed, maybe because they are cut flatter.

Furling mains are also cheaper because they are simpler in shape and have less stuff sewn to them. So I think on the contrary that this is an advantage -- it makes more sense, to spend more money on a really good sail, when it is stored so well and will last so much longer.

Nevertheless, as I wrote, my next boat will have a roachy full batten main.
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Old 13-08-2017, 14:18   #28
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Dockhead, your comment on reefs being flatter intrigues me. For a jib, the result is painfully opposite -- where possible, I slab reef my main or take it down in order to avoid the belly of a partially furled jib, especially upwind. I've never sailed with anything but lazy jacks, but always assumed lousy reef shape was a drawback of in mast furling.

I currently coastal cruise in a Sabre 34, and love slab reefing. However, we are shopping for our next boat, a larger for extended and offshore sailing with limited crew, and slab/boom/mast reefing is an area of discussion.
Yes, you are right, and I can't explain it. Headsails just totally suck when furled, and I have gradually evolved a preferred sail plan and way to use it that avoids almost completely, ever furling the headsail.

I really don't know why the furling main is the opposite, but that is my experience.

I just sailed 1000 miles upwind over the last 10 days, in winds often 25 to 40 knots true. I never reefed my blade jib even once. I reefed the main very actively, and took the jib away completely if it ever started to look like I would have to reef it. The main performed extremely well -- I was very pleased with it. I did a lot of sailing with the furling main and staysail alone -- a fantastic strong wind rig good to over 30 knots true before you have to start furling the main. And when you do, it just seems to work better and better.
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Old 13-08-2017, 19:48   #29
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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OK, those are the main pluses, and enough of an advantage that practically all large cruising boats made in the last 20 years and used in the UK, have furling mains. Like 98%. You will find the best sailors in the world in the sailing-crazed UK, so you should take note when they have an almost unanimous preference for furling mains, on non-racing boats.
Exactly my point. They are so popular, I figured i was missing the point. Thank you for a very thorough answer. Do you have any opinion of in mast versus boom?
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Old 13-08-2017, 22:03   #30
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Also from an efficencieny standpoint, there's no comparison between the 2 types of mains. To include which one induces more heeling, & drag, per amount of drive it produces.
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Unciv, I'm curious: do you agree with DH's statement that furling mains are better than FB mains when reefed? I understand his point about flattening in the furler, but the sail shape (plan view) is still inferior and has a potentially lower lift to drag ratio, especially when you view the whole rig with its fatter tube and possibly poorer cross sectional shape. And it is (I think) possible to assure a flatter FB shape when reefed, is it not?

Your thoughts? (And those of others as well, co course)

Jim
Jim, Sorry, I thought that it was obvious that I was pointing out that RF mains have abysmal lift to drag ratios when compared to standard ones. The math/science on this is unassailable IMO, & has been for decades. And this "rant" isn't directed at you Jim, or anyone, particularly.

I have actively avoided looking at otherwise great boats due to their having RF mains. To me having one is akin to a young single guys having a mini van or an RV as their daily driver. If you understand my analogy.

I reckon Dockhead has some good points about them, but... unless given a premium boat that already had one, I can't see making the switch. Why add increased heeling moment, & drag, weight aloft, loss of shape control... ???

As to standard mains & flatness, with any level of proper tuning controls I've no problem at all turning a standard main into a AAA-cup. And with full battens, reefed or not, you can feather a main so effectively as to remove the majority of it's heeling & driving force, should you choose to do so.

Will it ever be as flat as an RF main, probably not. At least not when reefed, but I'm okay with that. And BTW, have a look at Skip Novak's boat, Pelagic. Noting her standard main, with multiple reef points. Odds are there's a reason for that. And I can't see anyone calling him inexperienced.

The main is quite literally a boat's 2nd rudder, & I can't see purposefully removing essentially ALL of it's tuning controls. Especially not on a boat which sails anywhere that the winds are variable. Which is most of the planet.
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