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Old 15-01-2016, 18:50   #1
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In Mast furling systems

What is your view on in mast Easy Reef furling systems in open Ocean Cruising ? Does anyone have personal experience with it ? We tried one furling system once and were not really convinced, but this one looks pretty simple and sturdy ( on a Kaufman 47 Cutter )
Thanks for everyone's inputs !

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Old 15-01-2016, 19:49   #2
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Re: In Mast furling systems

I would be very careful in cruising with an in mast system. Consider what happens in a blow, if some fails, what would you do. Boom systems are much better because they tend to go the mast just like a normal sail which means you can always take it down.

I have not been impressed with in mast systems. And I am a delivery skipper. Most of the time I shy away from ever pulling that main out and only pull the jib out.

Think outside the box.

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Old 15-01-2016, 21:25   #3
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Re: In Mast furling systems

I concur with Makconsult. In mast furling is great for costal cruising; however, any failure can create a real problem. If it fails on deployment, you may be stuck underpowered to handle the sea-state and will definitely be fighting a lee helm. A failure on furling could leave you with just the opposite problem. Additionally, they tend to result in much more weight aloft, which creates righting moment issues and a potentially less comfortable ride. A good two line reefing system with lines back to the cabin is a better choice. Get a good lazy jack set-up and a small or exhausted crew will be much better able to handle what ever the ocean throws at you. In-mast furling is great if you are out and back to your slip every day and don't want the hassle of futzing with the main and its cover. Out at sea, I would not go there.

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Old 15-01-2016, 22:53   #4
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Re: In Mast furling systems

In-mast furling discussions seem to fall into the same category as discussions on anchors, boat size and guns on sailing forums. Good luck wading through.

There are a couple of previous posts on them in general that you may find worth checking out. Interestingly, I've heard a lot of horror stories about jammed furling sails talking to other cruisers, but only one of them was first hand. The majority of the others start with 'I once heard about.....' Of the multitudes of boats I met the last two years cruising offshore between the Eastern Caribbean and New Zealand' (including Amel's, HR's, Oyster's, Jeanneau's, Discovery's, Island Packets, Moody's, Beneteau's, and a few others I can't think of right now - clearly a lot of people don't know they are only suitable for coastal cruising), I don't know of one that had a major issue. The main furler brands on that list were, Selden, Hood and Amel's own.

For one of the Island Packets, the in-mast furling actually helped when they had a boom failure mid-crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas. They were able to rig it loose footed to a block on the aft quater and keep up reasonable speed for the remainder of the trip and still be able to reef when the wind picked up. In the Marquesas they simply cut off a bit of the inboard end of the boom where the failure occurred (much less than the first reef), re-riveted the gooseneck plates on and continued merrily along to Australia where they'll now fit a new boom again. Our other friends on an Allures 51 with slab reefing and lazy jacks had a more difficult time jury rigging after their boom failure on the crossing from the Galápagos to the Marquesas.

Personally, we've found ours great (both main and mizzen are in-mast). There was a bit of a learning curve to understand how it operates the easiest on the sails, but not bad if you pay attention.

Retrofitted systems bolted onto the back of the mast don't seem as popular with their owners based on my experience. The steel ketch next to me has one (not an Easy Reef) and says he'll probably remove it in a few years and go to a lazy jack system. If I was looking at one I'd take a hard look at future parts availability as there's a lot less of them. I'd also carefully look at the rig alignment since some mast bend may have been removed to straighten the 'stick' for the furler installation.

For my next boat, if I found a great boat with one of the common in-mast furlers installed, would I get it? Absolutely. Recognizing that I'm trading some ease of handling for some additional maintenance, expense and some minor loss of performance for the 5% of the time I'm beating to windward. If I found a great boat with a well setup slab reefing system, (all reefing lines to the cockpit, lazy jacks, etc), would I consider it? Absolutely. Would I look at converting it to furling? Very unlikely.

Just my thoughts. As I said, good luck.
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Old 16-01-2016, 03:19   #5
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Re: In Mast furling systems

We have a Selden in mast furling on both the main and mizzen. We have owned this boat for over 5 years and sailed over 25,000nm without any problems. This system is by far the easiest to handle of any. This includes reefing, deploying and furling even with the wind aft.

The greatest secret to these systems is the sails. When we first purchased the boat the sails were blown out and I am sure that they were not cut properly for the rig to begin with. We had a hell of a time furling the sails as they were constantly wrapping over themselves on the furler and then would create great difficulty deploying them. We had new sails made through Peter Grimm in Florida by Doyle and never had a problem since.

This system will point to the wind just fine. We can sail into 32 degrees apparent and consitently maintain over 9kts BTW on 10-12kts of true wind. This on a 34 ton displacement full keeled boat.

Friends of ours have in boom furling and have constant problems. They have to get the boom angle exactly right, keep sufficient tension on the halyard when furling, and vice versa on the furling line when deploying, they have to turn exactly into the wind to furl or there is too much tension on the sail to furl and regardless it is a two person operation. I can handle everything on our boat single handed and if I had to decide today on rigging a new boat I would buy this system again.

If you have never sailed with this system with decent sails you do not know what you are talking about.
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Old 16-01-2016, 08:37   #6
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Re: In Mast furling systems

i have a good friend with an Amel 53 and in mast furling. he has sailed thousands of miles from Long Island NY to Saint Maarten and all around, in weather of all kinds, and has never experienced any fatal flaw in the system, even with hard use.

I once chartered a Beneteu out of St Maarten with in mast furling and the base manager was very nervous about it being used. He advised me to motor everywhere! I made sure it worked before we left his base, then used it whenever possible to sail. it was a bit of a hassle to ensure the sail was rolling up correctly, but lots of things require some attention on a boat.
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Old 16-01-2016, 08:57   #7
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Re: In Mast furling systems

What about in boom furling. I was reading about the Shaefer boom furling set up and it looks very interesting. Has anyone has first hand experience with this system?
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Old 16-01-2016, 09:06   #8
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Re: In Mast furling systems

I find that the in-mast system is fine if handled properly - one of the critical things is to have slack in the sheet and the kicker/vang - the boom needs to be free for the sail to lift it - if they are left taut the sail is stressed inside the mast, and the furled area 'bunches' up - creating resistance, and potentially shortening the life of the sail, as well as causing the sail to 'jam' inside the mast.
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Old 16-01-2016, 09:16   #9
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Re: In Mast furling systems

This is an old discussion which has been done about 500 times on here. You can get all the information you want by going through the archives.

Opinions vary (naturally!), but you should pay most attention to people who actually have in-mast furling.

A very brief summary of the main points:

1. Not all in-mast furling systems are alike. Some are crap (Stowaway); some are really well engineered (Selden).

2. In-mast furling definitely hurts sailing performance. That's because you can't have normal battens and so you can't have roach (or much of it), which is the most important part of the mainsail.

3. In-mast furling is not actually all that easy to operate, needing two people to really do it well and easily.

4. In-mast furling allows you to reef in infinite increments, and on any point of sail, a huge plus in higher wind conditions. This even makes up for some of the performance lost from lack of roach, because it is so much easier to have just the right amount of sail up at all times. Obviously in lighter wind conditions, none of this is of any use.

5. In-mast furling offers ideal storage of the sail inside the mast, extending sail life, and saving a great deal of labor (flaking, putting cover on, etc.).

6. A decently engineered in-mast furling, if used with reasonable skill, is extremely reliable, so the nightmare jamming scenarios which sailors who haven't used in-mast furling worry about, don't generally happen.

So if you want my opinion about it:

* In-mast furling makes no sense for boats used for mostly coastal sailing in mild latitudes, like the Med, Florida, Caribbean, etc.

* In-mast furling makes a lot of sense in higher latitudes with a lot of wind, PROVIDED you are willing to give up a little performance.

* In-mast furling makes more sense, the larger the boat.

In Northern Europe, it is almost impossible to buy a cruising boat over about 50 feet, made in the last 20 years, without in-mast furling -- that should tell you something.
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Old 16-01-2016, 10:18   #10
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Re: In Mast furling systems

Our personal experience of 15,000nm on our older Whitby 42 with an older Hood Stoway inmast system was great. Undercutter's and Dockhead's thoughts above were right on per my experience.

We had new sails made for ours specifically to suit so that made a big difference. We double handed and found our rough weather sailing was much easier and safer because of the roller furling. However, our mizzen was not so good. It had a completely different type of system and it would jam regularly so we quit using it. Since it was a smaller sail and often used to balance the boat in rough weather that wasn't so bad but it was annoying.

Our main mast was great though. It surely lessened our performance as noted everywhere since no battens and a different cut. Our boat was not speed demon anyway with a (cutaway) full keel and very heavy. It was fine for us.

We double handed all but about 700nm of our 15k. I often reefed the main by myself in the cockpit under the dodger. It took a little work in cranking in and loosing the sheet a bit at a time but very doable. With two people it was easy. We only had to go to the mast to pin or unpin the safety that prevented the sail from pulling out when not wanted. It never jammed.

One of the best things for us, even though we probably shouldn't have, is we did not have to come about in to the wind to reef even when it was honking out there. I had to crank harder and sometimes I thought perhaps the winch might pull out of its mount but never happened. I may get some flak about how stupid that was but all I can say is it worked every time. And we could always get it in as quick as we needed. "reef early and reef often" was our motto but all of you know you don't always do that and we didn't either.

The only time we got knocked down (spreaders just off the water) was a bit of stupidity when we were racing our buddy boat in Polynesia and "somehow" did not notice the little squall that hit us all of a sudden. That was interesting. But it wasn't any problem with the furling.

This is not a general statement for or against in-mast furling, just our experience. I wouldn't describe us as being the best sailors as far as getting max performance out of our boat so someone else might have hated it. It was fine for us and gave us more confidence when going into bad conditions.
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Old 16-01-2016, 13:24   #11
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Re: In Mast furling systems

Here's some more firsthand experience. We have a Selden In-Mast Furling on our Antares 44i and have sailed about 14,000 miles with it so far, including across the Atlantic last year. We are on a multi-year circumnavigation and the more and more nautical miles we cover, the happier we are that we chose in-mast furling.

We've tested our system so we know what it's like to handle the main sail without the furler working. It would be manageable to hand-furl the mainsail in or out in case of a failure in the in-mast furling system and it's something that doesn't require too much strength or skill. Don't lose that crank though!

You insert the crank at the mast, hit a button to release the "clutch" as I call it, and furl the sail manually; the crank winds or unwinds the sail manually in the mast.

For furling manually, the person cranking has to be at the mast. Depending on how you have your outhaul rigged (on the Antares, the outhaul comes to a winch at the far end of the cockpit) it's nice to have one person handling the outhaul and the other person at the crank. Theoretically, one person could go back and forth, but that's not ideal

For sailors who aren't extremely strong, fit, or young, in-mast furling is a wonderful option. I love it and know that I'm using my mainsail far more often and more effortlessly than I would if I didn't have an in-mast furling system.

Hope that's helpful
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Old 16-01-2016, 19:32   #12
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Re: In Mast furling systems

This all seems to mirror the thoughts about headsail furlers from the previous generation. Time and technology move on.
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Old 16-01-2016, 20:16   #13
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Re: In Mast furling systems

Personally, I think normal StacPac will do most job for host and reef for single handed on a 30+ ft boat. In mast/boom furling system can benefit a larger boat. However if I have sufficient funding, I will go for boom furling as standard battened main can be used. Just my personal preference

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Old 16-01-2016, 21:33   #14
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Re: In Mast furling systems

We have in mast furling on both the main & mizzen.

The mizzen is manual using a winch handle. Very easy no issues; 48 foot vertical clearance.

Main is 80 foot air clearance. Motorized furler can be stalled if the loads are too high. This makes it a bit temper mental. It does have a manual over-ride at the gooseneck where the drive can be disengaged and a manual crank can be used.

In mast means you will not have any batons and the sail will have negative roach.
You will never take the sail down nor will you need to hoist or put a sail cover on it.

In boom will give you positive roach and batons. You will have a main cover and will need to hoist & drop.
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Old 16-01-2016, 23:00   #15
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Re: In Mast furling systems

Headsail furling is a completely different animal.

Originally Posted by nortonscove View Post
This all seems to mirror the thoughts about headsail furlers from the previous generation. Time and technology move on.

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furling, mast

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