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Old 10-05-2008, 01:12   #1
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In-Mast Furling

Hi all,

I just wanted to get everyone's opinion and real world experience with normal and in-mast furling. What are the pros and cons with both?? Or is it purely a personal choice??

Thanks for everyone's time and input!!
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Old 10-05-2008, 02:54   #2
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What do you mean by normal? Are you referring to reefing?
Everything is always a personal choice. Furling offers advantages of ease of handling sails. But there are disadvantages as well. I am not experienced enough to talk about sail shape issues with furling and I will leave that to the more experienced. The only negative that I see with furling, be it in mast or in boom, is that if the system goes wrong, it gets messy real quick.
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Old 10-05-2008, 04:17   #3
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furling head sails are a pain to change in a hurry, in mast ?
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:24   #4
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I have in mast furling, and am very happy with it.

It's served me well in all conditions, up to Force 9 offshore with no failings. I've been able to easily reef in heavy or light winds. No jams. The loose-footed sail maintains a good shape at all reef points. I have no issues with the negative roach. There's a little bit of techique to learn in order to do it right, but it's not difficult nor complicated.

I sail single-handed. My wife is usually with me, but is a happy passenger, not a sailor. With all three sails being roller-furling, and control lines led to the cockpit, it's very doable.

p.s. with a cutter rig, there's no need to change headsails!
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:27   #5
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Positive Experience with In-Mast Furling

I have in-mast furling on my Island Packet 40. I love the system on my boat and it has been 100% reliable. It is very similar in design and operation to a roller furling jib. The boat has logged well over 10,000 miles with this system with no failures.

The benefits are sometimes obvious--easy short handed sail handling; setting, reefing and furling from the cockpit; infinite reefing positions. The not-so-obvious benefits are not having to flake the sail and cover it when arriving at an anchorage, great protection of the sail inside the mast, having a clean empty boom for attaching awnings, etc., and using the sail more often than you might otherwise because it is so easy.

The number one benefit is reefing early because that too is so easy to put in and take out.

Others will be fast to point out what can happen if it fails, etc. You can do some searches and find lots of negatives about sail shape as well. In my experience, battens cause more problems with ripped pockets, etc. I have also found that the performance with the furling main is just fine. It wouldn't suit the sailplan on a catamaran where a big roach is desired, but it works fine on my fairly heavy displacement boat.

Cheers,
Dan
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Old 10-05-2008, 06:14   #6
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I echo Dan the Conch Cruzer 100%, heís dead on. Iíve sailed slab reefers and furlers, (electric, hydraulic and rope), and I know which I would sooner have in a blow, knowing I donít have to grope my way forward and come back soaking. All I would add is to ensure your furling systems work when they need to, through good running maintenance, much as you would, (should?) with the likes of the engine or windlass.
The ability to set the desired amount of sail in an instant far outways the possible loss of efficiently. Heck! If itís that critical you bung the iron sail on Ė weíre cruisers arenít we Ė not on the Fastnet?
Iím planning to have all seven working sails roller furling on my new boat, (that should set minds working), and donít have the slightest worry about failure.
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Old 10-05-2008, 07:00   #7
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Great input everyone!! I was doing some research on my future boat purchase and wanted to really get first hand real world experience with both types of masts and rigging. Like most people, not that concerned about optimum speed, I just need something that is easy to use and maintain when single handed sailing..

Keep the inputs coming!! Thanks all!
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Old 10-05-2008, 08:32   #8
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I singlehand a 43 footer with in-mast furling and really like the system. No malfunctions, easy to reef and let out. I haven't noticed significant performance loss with the lack of battens - but I cruise and don't race.
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:47   #9
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I've had the furling system on my jib malfunction once in 10 years and it was no big deal to fix because the drum is exposed and unjamming the control line was simple. Question: on the in mast furling systems, if you do have a control line jam, is the spooling drum easy to access?
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:05   #10
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On my main furler, the mechanism is a rod with a spiral track in it. The main furling line lays in the track when furling or unfurling. Since it doesn't overlap itself, there's little possibility that it would jam.

The secret is to keep a little pressure on the furling line when unfurling, and on the outhaul line when furling. That keeps the furling line firmly in it's track, and the sail gets tightly furled.

My mast furling system is sold by Charleston Spar.
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:17   #11
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We did 6 twists in the foil of a Swan 651 mid-Atlantic (Rio to Mar Del Platta) in a storm.
I was the mate on the off watch at night and I could hear some stuffing around on the skippers watch, knew the wind was coming up, then heard a main, but lazy, coffee-grinder winch starting up... and stopping... winding... stopping... I couldnt work out what it was - unless they were hauling in the genoa furler on a winch - a no-no - let alone a coffee-grinder! So I put my head on deck and asked if they needed a hand.... to which the skipper replied he was totally in control!

LOLOL

When my watch came up a few hours later there was definitely sommit wrong with that furled genny!

At Mar Del Platta we had to remove the whole friggin forestay, foil, sail and all and then unroll the sail off it on the marina. 6 twists in the foil! Didnt snap it, just twisted 6 complete turns! And then (after lotsa photos) I got to cut the blasted foil off the rod forestay! That took hours!

I have forgotten the reason why the skipper used the winch to furl, but it was something stupid like not wanting to come up into the wind to reef it as he didn't want to lose time against a competitor we couldnt even see!

So if you get a problem with genny or main furler, just take it easy and nut it out in your noggin. Dont just chuck it on the nearest winch!

Mark

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Old 10-05-2008, 15:36   #12
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Lots of talk here about ease of reefing. Can't argue with that. Can contribute that one of my dockmates came in with a main he couldn't furl in. He spent the windy night with his main out. Didn't do much for the life of his sail. But he did say the fix was easy, once he discovered it. Aside from that, with in mast furling you loose 30% of your sail. That to me is very unattractive. With boom furling, should it jam,, the sail can still be dropped. I really really wanted to go with boom furling until I learned that you must get the boom angle just right to make things work. Which, does not seem like such a negative. I made the decision to go with a "Stack Pack" arrangement when I notice that my retired professional racer friend had one. All the questions I asked balanced out towards saving the money and getting the best sail shape. Reefing works great, but I'm sure the other systems are better in that area.
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Old 10-05-2008, 16:24   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow View Post
I just wanted to get everyone's opinion and real world experience with normal and in-mast furling. What are the pros and cons with both?? Or is it purely a personal choice??
Pro: Retards UV degradation, provides a near infinite number of reef points and can be set up like a riding sail.

Con: A lot of in mast systems have no roach and have to make up for with a taller rig or deal with having less sail area. The ones that do have positive roach tend to have vertical battens. Some systems are more prone to jamming and require much more careful operation than advertised. For example the boom has to be almost exactly level and no twist to the sail. One more thing to break.

Personally, I'm sort of up in the air with them as you can make a good case either way.
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Old 11-05-2008, 05:32   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Anderson View Post
...Aside from that, with in mast furling you loose 30% of your sail...
Could you explain that assertion?
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Old 11-05-2008, 07:18   #15
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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
Could you explain that assertion?

I doubt its 30% but...

In mast furling has a difficulty that it can not have battens in the sail to help the leach standing upright (for want of a better word). So the sail needs to be cut without a roach. It is triangular.
Most modern racing boats now have huge roaches as they use full length battens as in the picture below.

So the shaded area is the bit an in mast furling main doesnt have.
People have then thought you can have in boom furling and keep the battens. They are not as popular. I sailed on one boat with it and .... well... it was ho hum. and makes a very thick boom, wheras the mast was thick to begin with!





This photos linked from UK Halsey sails. Good sails from them too!
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