Contrary to what was stated above, in-boom furling is actually much more reliable than in-mast furling.
And, if something breaks, you can still lower the sail the "normal" way. Not so if you get a jam with in-mast furling. And, you will....it's just a matter of time. When it jams, it will of course be the worst time, and there's no way you can go up the mast
and sort it out. I wouldn't give in-mast furling hellroom on any boat of mine.
The comment about slab-reefing
being complicated or worse also runs contrary to my experience and that of most sailors. Slab-reefing is a wonderful system....simple, nearly foolproof, very quick to implement, and very inexpensive. But, you gotta go up on a bouncing deck
which is likely to be wet and slippery and heavily canted. And it may be dark and stormy. I had slab reefing on my 42' sloop
in the Caribbean
for 11 years when I was younger. Only got tossed into the lifelines
once, but believe me it ain't fun unless you're 20-something!
offers many advantages, some mentioned above. And, it's perfectly possible to raise the main, reef to any desired sail area (with good shape), have a full-batten main with a large roach, and furl the main to any desired size....all without leaving the cockpit
. Great for singlehanders, too.
My LeisureFurl in now eight years old. I love it. Have a Lemar electric winch
located in the cockpit
just aft of the multi jam cleat which carries the main halyard
, the furling line, and the boom vang
adjusting line. Makes short work of mainsail
As was mentioned, full-batten mains are VERY quiet...no flapping about even in strong winds.
Is there a downside? Yes, of course, like almost everything else on a boat.
for the furler
, and you need a purpose-built mainsail
2. Electric winch
...on any but the smallest boats, you really need one;
3. Learning curve
....you have to learn a few things in order to get a good furl every time; and
4. Depowering the main
....you have to be careful when you furl the main that it is not full of wind
. It IS possible to furl when off the wind
if you take your time and spill as much wind as possible from the main, but it's faster and easier if you can spill most of the wind as in heading up.
Like the roller-furling headsail, the modern in-boom furlers like the LeisureFurl and Schaefer are a godsend in managing sail area, especially when short-handed or with an aging (aged?) crew!