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Old 06-11-2005, 10:02   #1
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furling mains

rick suggests that furling mains are the way. i have read about options in the boom, in the mast and some trade offs. anyone got 'em ? want 'em ?
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Old 06-11-2005, 10:42   #2
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capt lar,

Didn't we have this thread a little while back? Maybe it's my imagination or it was on another board. In any event I have in mast furling on "Breathless" and just love it. Now I wouldn't retrofit one due to the high cost but if you have it I'm sure you'll get to love it. I was not a fan when I didn't have one as I'd seen one or two jam over the years. These were on charter boats and was probably due to charterers not fully understanding the proper way to furl or unfurl the sail. Hollow leech, no roach, loose footed, no battens - still sails beautifully. The best part is, once you've got the hook down, you don't have to flake and cover the sail. I also find that on short hops where, in the past, I might have just used the jib (yeah, I'm lazy) I now unfurl the main too. Gives the boat a "clean" look too.

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Old 06-11-2005, 11:30   #3
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i did a search and did find some discussion on this one. jeff h had a lot of info - that was in 04. the thread really went off on loose footed mains. one statement that interested me is the assertion that the sail has to be lighter material, which seems to be a big trade off but sailmakers materials continue to evolve. in-boom furling would seem to be the only reasonable upgrade and i read about newer products often.
i looked at a whitby last year that had mast furling added. not exactly sleek looking.
the question has been asked in the past, and usually not many respond. i assume that is because most of us do not have it.

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Old 06-11-2005, 11:39   #4
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Some people argue that in the ultimate storm conditions, there is a chance that an in-mast will jam and you will be left with too much sail up and no ability to do anything.
Behind masts are also slated due to their extra weight. Whilst this is definitely a penalty for add-on behind mast units, an integral one does not have a significant extra weightproblem.
Full vertical battens enable a decent sail shape. Biggest penalty is that the sailcloth will probably be lighter than that used for a normal sail.
Advantages are the total ease of use. I have one and find that when I single hand it is so much more user friendly.

In-boom systems are normally used for the big boats, and have the advantage that full length battens can be used. However, the vang is normally a solid bar, and this does present some problems in achieving the best shape of the sail. The boom is also a lot larger and a lot heavier, which is fine if the boom is well clear of heads, but most modern monohulls have fairly low boom clearance. It has the same advantages as the proper in-mast, plus any extra weight is much lower.

A lot of people swear by them, but there are also a lot of people who swear at them. Like most kit, if you recognise their design requirements and handle them properly, they are fine.
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Old 06-11-2005, 12:43   #5
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I'm really interested in this option (in boom roller furling) but they scare me. The thought of not being able to reduce sail is frighting when the breeze is on. I recently read a review of a new Trintella 52. During the sail, the author noted they were sailing with too much sail for the conditions but the new Liesure Furl was on the fritz. How will this system hold up when 5 or 10 years old?

I guess we will stick with the Battcars for a bit longer.
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Old 06-11-2005, 14:15   #6
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boom roller furling is much more accesible, and if all else fails it is still possible to remove the sail and wrap it around the boom.
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Old 06-11-2005, 18:03   #7
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One of our sailing instructors told us that he owned a Catalina 30 with in-mast furling for many years. It was the only one he heard of that had it factory-done (given that it was an older boat).

Anyway, he raved about it. Easier and faster to reef, he said, and even though the system was over 20 years old he had no problems with it. He definately wanted it again.

One advantage he claimed-- sail life. Once a year he took the original sail to a loft for cleaning and stitching upkeep, and they always gave it a clean bill of health and were amazed it was the orginal sail. He claimed the system handled and protected the sail much better than traditional flaking.
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Old 06-11-2005, 20:56   #8
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The price they ask for those things, they should be good for life.

It's like $15K to fit a 40'er.

The main problem I've heard of, is when hauling in the sail in anything over a Force 2, one has to be luffing into the wind. So reefing, one has to head up.
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Old 06-11-2005, 21:37   #9
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The sail probably lasted longer because it wasn't subjected the abuse of a slab reefed sail. Most of us tend to be a bit late in tucking in a reef. The sail must suffer through various degrees of overpowering which stretches the sail out of shape.

For a weekend sailor who very rarely tucks in a reef, delaying a reef until way late is common because of unfamiliarity. After all, we KNOW that it's just a squall and it's going to blow over in the next few minutes.

If it's just a matter of pulling on a line or two, you'd be much more likely to tuck in a reef at the first sign of need. That would greatly lessen the chance of blowing the sail out of shape.

Still can't see using the inmast furler on an ocean voyaging boat. Just too many things that can and does go wrong with them. At least with a roller furling headsail, you can let it fly till it beats itself to death. In mast roller furling is locked in by the boom and shrouds and could seriously overdrive the boat and/or tax the rig to destruction. In any case, with practice, you can tuck in a slab reef in no time.

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Old 07-11-2005, 05:13   #10
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Any sail handling system must be capable of Reefing - not just Furling.
Many Furling Systems are not capable of holding a storm reef.

Remember - the first rule of heavy weather sailing is:
"Reef Early - Reef Deep - Reef when you First consider it."

Remember - Itís much easier & safer to shake out a reef when the wind goes light, than to tuck one in when the rail is submerged.

The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to reef. My rule of thumb about reefing, is to shorten sail to balance the boat for the highest gusts (and squalls), not just for the average wind conditions.

You sacrifice little in speed, but gain much in safety & comfort.

In Heavy Weather Sailing (International Marine), Adlard Coles writes, "The extra sail required to achieve the last quarter knot places a load on a yacht's sails, gear and crew which is out of all proportion to the gain."

When beating upwind, the boat will tell you when its time to reef - its angle of heel will become uncomfortable, the sheet tension will become high, and her weather helm will become excessive.

Reefing early means the boat sails more upright, goes faster because the underwater shape is more balanced, you get a much better ride, stress levels are reduced and it is easier and quieter to sleep on night passages. You will most likely sail higher and faster than if you were dragging the rail in the water, and battling a brutal weather helm.

Reefing Deep means that you are prepared for the gusting wind conditions, and for increasing average wind conditions.

Reef early, reef deep, and reef with your first inclination (ahead of the weather).
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Old 07-11-2005, 05:51   #11
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You might want to review the thread on this topic at the SSCA Discussion Board - http://ssca.org/sscabb/index.php?act...=10&topic=1125

In there I also reference an interesting 'sail-off' article published in one of the British magazines: 3 boats, all sailed at the same time in F7-9 winds in the Solent while being photographed: one boat (H-R 36) with Selden in-mast furling, a Catalina with an in-boom Leisure Furl system, and a third AWB that was using a conventional full-batten jiffy reefing system. Each system had its issues and I thought the discussion was useful in pointing out what some of them are, since threads like this always mention the feared end result of a jam without reflecting on the steps that lead to that point, and also on how the performance of the sail (and the boat) is governed by far more than the theoretical +'s and -'s of each system.

The single most impressive fact to emerge from the sail-off for me was that the Selden in-mast system not only performed best all-around but that the boat was being singlehanded by a 70-year old owner. The other boats had multiple crew and those crews were intimately familiar with their respective reefing systems.

Finally, I'll once again mention that this topic is endlessly discussed in generic terms, citing theoretical advantages and liabilities of one design over another - e.g. in-mast reefing is 'bad' because it puts weight up high in the spar and a jam is hard to address. But when you start looking at specifics, you discover many variables which make these systems far less 'black & white' in their attributes. E.g. this weekend I was looking at a range of Catalinas and the broker proudly pointed out they all came with (Catalina's generic) in-mast furling. I asked him 'Does the furling system have a top as well as bottom swivel?' He shook his head and admitted he didn't have a clue. He was a young guy and had sailed a Catalina 30 down to Oz from California, so he was an experienced sailor. I then asked him 'Would you buy a jib furling system that only had a bottom swivel?' You can guess his answer...

The devil's in the details with this issue. Next time you are at a sailboat show with a Selden *factory* rep at the booth, talk to him/her about how they recommend you spec the sail for their in-mast furling system. You'll discover they have climbed a long learning curve, they have preferred lofts who know their system well, and that there are a series of incremental decisions you can make about the sail that will influence the performance of the furling system. I'll bet that 70-year old singlehander knew this stuff.

I would not choose an in-mast furling system for extended offshore sailing...but I'll admit I'm tempted every once in a while when I'm pulling down a reef in lousy conditions.

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Old 07-11-2005, 06:18   #12
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Jack & othersĒ would not choose an in-mast furling system for extended offshore sailing...but he'll admit heís tempted every once in a while when I'm pulling down a reef in lousy conditions
Iíll say it again - thereís not often any good excuse to be pulling down a reef in lousy conditions.
Reef Early - Reef Deep!

BTW: No criticism of Jack intended, who is a seasoned passagemaker, and an able seaman, whose opinions I respect.
Never having used Mainsail Furler/Reefers, Iíll back out quietly now ...

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Old 07-11-2005, 06:28   #13
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Like Jack I too am prejudiced towards keep it simple. For that reason I am still a fan of slab reefing. With two downhaul lines rigged for each reef point [leech and luff] I can easily pull in a reef without leaving the cockpit. Cause there are not many turning blocks and I do have Harken battcars main comes down easily in all conditions. That being said,

If I was specifying a new boat today and could afford it I would seriously consider one of the boom furling systems. There are a number of pluses to the system that I really like including 'infinite reef points' and good sail shapes. However given the costs to retrofit that's a good part of a years cruising. Not gong to happen for me at least.
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Old 07-11-2005, 07:06   #14
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As often said every system has its foibles. Following is a bit I lifted from another post pertaining to Furlbooms. It is from the Furlboom manual.

"If you have reefed your sail, you should not furl it for storage without hoisting it all the way up and furling it head to wind. The distortion of the roll due to reefing combined with a loose furl of the remainder is a good way to have a jam on your next hoist. If you should jam on the way up, easing the halyard 6 to 12 inches will generally ease the tension. If this should not be enough, ease the halyard and manually pull the sail out of the boom past the jam and proceed to hoist normally."
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Old 07-11-2005, 15:13   #15
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Regarding the discussion about in-mast furling and sail life....


The sailmakers tell me that in-mast greatly shortens the life of the sail. It was originally assumed that the life of the sail would be greater because hollow leeched sails were once thought to produce longer lives. (Sails with at least upper battens that are full length are now thought to have the longest life) The chafe of furling into the slot is hard on stitching combined with the high leech loads (since leech loads are tied to outhaul loads) greatly shortens the life of the sail.

For what it is worth, I still keep hearing new stories about major in-mast fruling jambs in heavy weather from folks who should know how to use them. My conclusion is that in mast furling is convenient when it works, which is most of the time, but a real life threatening pain in the butt when they fail which they do with far more regularity than I would would prefer to rely on. Besides I consider two-line reefing easier and quicker to use in extremis than in-mast furling in the first place.
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