These are good points regarding the cut of the main, if somewhat negative in that the preposition is that "cruiser mains are generally such crap that you might as well roll them up in the mast".
My point of view comes from owning a steel
, 41' LOA
Technically, this boat, with only a 45 foot deck-stepped mast, is a "motor-sailer". Experience has shown that in terms of steel
, at 29,500 lbs. weight in slings, it's a "sailer-motor" in that it's good to plow around in moderate air at six knots when properly sailed with decently cut sails
. My wife is just a shave over five feet, although quite strong for her size and also about 20-25 years younger than the average passagemaker. This is the biggest boat she could handle without getting into electric
winches and yes, maybe in mast furling.
It is easier in my mind to have a heavy boat with a well-cut, beefy enough main that you can sail efficiently than to have an in-mast furler
. If we didn't have a rapidly growing son coming with us, I might say differently. If we were 60, same thing. But our boat is small enough (ironically, given its bulk) and is ridiculously strong enough (11 5/16" stays) so that we can sail the full main at higher wind
speeds than the typical lighter cruiser. We need that level of performance, which is also why I'm installing a feathering prop. A half-knot "boost" on a 1,000 NM passage
saves days, water
, and fuel
So we've opted for a really well-cut, custom-featured main on our Selden mast. Probably slab reefed. Our boat has 32 inch tall 1 1/4" inch pipe rails in place of lifelines
and a pilothouse with handholds. It's physically more difficult to fall off that a lot of modern cruisers, and working at the mast is not dangerous, but about the safest place on the boat.
Same with the staysail and same with the foresail (the existing Yankee jib
and the to-come fuller cut genoa
for light air). All are designed to move the boat to its greatest ability. Sail reduction? Sure, past 25 knots!
So we have to be careful here in arguing apples and oranges. An older couple on a 45 footer tend to be about safety, gear
preservation and convenience. If the boat goes fast, that's a bonus. We are about reducing the amount of time spent motoring, stowage, safety and simplicity. Convenient to me means not having to spend the trip either fixing stuff or paying others to do so, and to be independent of the shore, i.e. anchor
out 95% of the time, in order to extend the cruise
. Convenient to me in terms of main reefing means stuff I can fix with a Sailrite
, spare dacron and a sailor's palm.
Even on the steel boat, where I am lowering water tanks
to make her stiffer, I don't like weight aloft. Slab reefing is better to this end...for us. But then we fall beneath that "sweet spot", seemingly, of 45 feet where couples seem to want in-mast and electric
The two boats I've worked in-mast on were a Bristol 45.5 and a Catalina
470. Neither had what I would call great main drive, but were indeed very quick to reduce in the heavy weather
I encountered on both.