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Old 11-08-2017, 18:32   #1
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Furling Mainsails

OK, I don't get it. Almost every new boat and a lot of used boats have furling mainsails. I hate the things. From my point of view, the darn things are more work and way slower than a standard mainsail. With a standard mainsail, to drop it, just throw the clutch, and you're essentially done. With a furler, tension on this line and wind this other one and eventually the sail will be furled assuming the furling mechanism doesn't mess up. Raising a standard doesn't seem any more difficult than unfurling either. Reliability seems to be way in favor of a standard mainsail. Am I doing it wrong or something?
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Old 11-08-2017, 18:59   #2
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Infinite reef points, and yes you have to maintain pressure as you furl, you get use to it....
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Old 11-08-2017, 19:04   #3
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Re: Furling Mainsails

I'm not a fan of furling mains either. As to why you see so many - bigger boats with older crews.
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Old 12-08-2017, 00:10   #4
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Showing my age here: but way easier to reef down in a 30 knot blow with a main furler (or boom furler -my actual preferred choice), Standing at the mast in 20 foot sea's placing a reef point in is not my idea of fun any more!
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Old 12-08-2017, 00:51   #5
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Re: Furling Mainsails

53 foot sailboat, 10 seconds in or 20 seconds out, one person never leaving the cockpit, no furling issues.... ever. 'Nuff said.

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Old 12-08-2017, 01:09   #6
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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53 foot sailboat, 10 seconds in or 20 seconds out, one person never leaving the cockpit, no furling issues.... ever. 'Nuff said.

Except when it fails. Didn't your furler upper bearings just fall out or something like that?
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Old 12-08-2017, 01:34   #7
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:13   #8
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Re: Furling Mainsails

As with most things on boats, there are pluses and minuses for spar-furled mainsails. Flexible degrees of fine-tuned reefing from the safety of the cockpit is a huge plus, something that requires either a trip to the mast or awkward fair leads angles of the reefing lines at the mast with traditional slab reefing (and even then, you're limited to two or three degrees of reef). The trade-off is less ability to hone the shape of the sail, a compromise more relevant to racers than cruisers.
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:59   #9
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Not a fan either, but infinite reefing without going forward is a plus. Personally I prefer in boom furling too, same advantages plus more options for main sail design...with in mast you can only run one specific cut and no battens (not counting those goofy vertical ones). And if an in boom fails you can go back to the old fashioned way.
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:05   #10
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Re: Furling Mainsails

New boom furling systems are not what they were 5 years ago, they work pretty well and have much less area to go wrong than in mast furling systems.......
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:15   #11
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Originally Posted by nogawyks View Post
OK, I don't get it. Almost every new boat and a lot of used boats have furling mainsails. I hate the things. From my point of view, the darn things are more work and way slower than a standard mainsail. With a standard mainsail, to drop it, just throw the clutch, and you're essentially done. With a furler, tension on this line and wind this other one and eventually the sail will be furled assuming the furling mechanism doesn't mess up. Raising a standard doesn't seem any more difficult than unfurling either. Reliability seems to be way in favor of a standard mainsail. Am I doing it wrong or something?
Not a fan either. But today's boats are built for those who want to look like sailboat and motor most the time anyway.
Nothing easier than a standard reef once you get it down... and a lot less problematic!
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:43   #12
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Not a fan either. But today's boats are built for those who want to look like sailboat and motor most the time anyway.
Nothing easier than a standard reef once you get it down... and a lot less problematic!
And I see exactly the opposite.

In mast furling makes it easy to sail with fewer problems, and.... the main sail gets tucked away and protected from the harmful solar rays when not in use. Unlike a traditional reefing system where the sail generally remains uncovered on top of the boom, exposed to the sun and dirt.... because nobody feels like fussing with it.

What could be easier than our Hood furling system? Push a buttom for out, then push a button for in, at any point of sail. No need to come up into the wind in order to furl, no need to leave the safety of the cockpit, no winch cranking to put the sail up, no fuss of any kind. Our main sail can be completely furled in less time than it takes most people to locate a winch handle, and unfurled in less time than it takes most to find a winch handle and walk up to the mast.
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:50   #13
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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And I see exactly the opposite.

In mast furling makes it easy to sail with fewer problems, and.... the main sail gets tucked away and protected from the harmful solar rays when not in use. Unlike a traditional reefing system where the sail generally remains uncovered on top of the boom, exposed to the sun and dirt.... because nobody feels like fussing with it.
Yeah it's a great storage device, but has no drive IME. Every boat is different though. I had no problem furling mine in calm water, but when the going gets tough, and the boat is bouncing around on wave crests, it's very hard to walk that fine line between the main having too much tension on it to furl, and not enough tension causing a bouncing boom, resulting in a wrinkle/fold jam leaving it unreefed, stuck and unable to move it. To each his own.
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:59   #14
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Re: Furling Mainsails

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Yeah it's a great storage device, but has no drive IME. Every boat is different though. I had no problem furling mine in calm water, but when the going gets tough, and the boat is bouncing around on wave crests, it's very hard to walk that fine line between the main having too much tension on it to furl, and not enough tension causing a bouncing boom, resulting in a wrinkle/fold jam leaving it unreefed, stuck and unable to move it. To each his own.
Next time.... purchase a better quality system and learn how to use it properly. That will solve your jam issues.

Eight years, going on nine without a single furling jam in all sorts of weather.
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Old 12-08-2017, 14:04   #15
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Re: Furling Mainsails

Not sure how you get a jam when furling. We have had two or three when unfurling before we really understood how to do it. None of the jams was serious and we got them out in less than 30 minutes from on deck, basically by carefully going in and out several times. I am a fan of our furling system (Hood) after close to 40k nautical miles. I have no experience with other brands.
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