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Old 21-03-2009, 10:34   #1
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Furling Main On A Catamaran?

I have been searching for my first catamaran after sailing monos for 30 years. I found a Pajot 43 cat which might meet our needs except for the fact that the owner has added inmast furling to the main. Can anyone tell me approximately how much speed and pointing ability is lost without the fully batten sail.
Thanks, Lamar
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Old 21-03-2009, 11:15   #2
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It'll probably have lots of hours on the engines! I can't think of anything good on the whole idea.

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Old 21-03-2009, 11:57   #3
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I think it depends a lot on where and when you sail. I left NB Canada in September, and am now in St. Lucia on a FP 35. I have been severely reefed most of that time. I have not had my main up all the way in months. and seldom have my jib unfurled below the gullstriker. Still, I have only burned 15 gallons since leaving St. Martin.

The boat just doesn't often need all that sail, for what I am doing. With less sail, it handles better, feels better, and - as long as the sails are reasonably balanced, I don't think I give up much speed, if any. Mind you, most of this season, the wind has been between 18-25 knots down here.

So, it depends where and how you sail, I believe. What is the wind speed, sea conditions, etc? For sure, the Admiral and I envy sailors with furling mains. The FP 35 isn't the easiest to reef in a seaway - mind you, a damned sight easier than a mono.

Interestingly, many experienced monohullers laugh at people, even going around the race courses, who have too much sail up to win. I think, like some of them, there are often times when decreasing sail can actually increase speed. Am I sure? No, but I am sure that I don't give up much when I decrease sail on my boat.

I would imagine my comments will create some fun controversy here. For example, I would guess that some might comment on the change in sail shape. A battened sail shape may have some advantages on a faster boat.
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Old 21-03-2009, 12:29   #4
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Sonosailor: indeed, it's much more about the shape than about surface area. You can keep the reef(s) in the sail when you drop it so there's no need to reef it every trip (it's still reefed). But you now have a pretty perfect sailshape, can flatten the sail with the outhaul or reefing lines much better than any in-mast furled sail so that you de-power it and most of the forces are converted into forward speed.

Main sails with in-mast furling have a shape that heels a monohull more, wasting power in the process. On a catamaran, it's worse: the heeling forces are directly translated in more stress on the mast and rigging. I think this is the reason that most cats have nice big-roach fully battened mainsails: optimal shape to limit this stress. This is a blessing for catamarans and giving it up or wishing for in-mast furling will turn into big dissapointment if that step is actually taken. You will also find that they need to reef at the same windspeed you need to and the only thing they will see when you meet at sea is your quickly disappearing stern(s)!

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Old 21-03-2009, 12:42   #5
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The boat just doesn't often need all that sail. With less sail, it handles better, feels better, and - as long as the sails are reasonably balanced, I don't think I give up much speed, if any.
I tend to agree with you here. When I hear people talk of trying to get every bit of speed out of a cruising cat, I'm just left scratching my head. You're going to spend more time tying to slow the thing down than you are trying to speed it up. 85% of the time, the maximum available sail area is wasted on a cruising cat since it's usually reefed. When you're finally able to shake out that last reef - it's usually time for the kite anyway and half the time you're too lazy to bugger with that. Balance is a lot more important than maximizing sail area on a cat imo. I'd be curious to hear the avg amount of time most spend on thinking how to slow down their cats vs speed em up?
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Old 21-03-2009, 13:17   #6
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George: I agree but why do you need in-mast furling to reduce the sail area. If you never use the full main sail, you can also have it cut back to the 1st reef. You could even shorten the mast and for balance reduce the jib's surface. All much better options for less surface area. I would rather order a whole new set of tri-radial cut smaller sails than go to bed with just the idea of in-mast furling on any boat, let alone a cat!

If you really want a push-button-reefing system, why not in-boom furling instead? I don't really like that either but it addresses some issues at least.

Also, getting optimal speed with optimal sail-shape means reduction of unwanted forces like on the rigging. If you want to go slower, reduce sail area: the last thing you want to do is go for baggy sails... except downwind).

Another view of this: with in-mast furling you end up with a hollow-cut leech or some crazy 60' long vertical battens that still don't make a big difference. Now you have an inefficient sail that costs more. A reefed or smaller batwing main sail can drive the boat at the same speed with LESS surface area to handle, a lower center of gravity etc.

The only valid argument for in-mast furling is that push-button deployment and reefing. I never ever saw another valid argument for it.

ciao!
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Old 21-03-2009, 14:24   #7
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George: I agree but why do you need in-mast furling to reduce the sail area. If you never use the full main sail, you can also have it cut back to the 1st reef. You could even shorten the mast and for balance reduce the jib's surface. All much better options for less surface area. I would rather order a whole new set of tri-radial cut smaller sails than go to bed with just the idea of in-mast furling on any boat, let alone a cat!

If you really want a push-button-reefing system, why not in-boom furling instead? I don't really like that either but it addresses some issues at least.

Also, getting optimal speed with optimal sail-shape means reduction of unwanted forces like on the rigging. If you want to go slower, reduce sail area: the last thing you want to do is go for baggy sails... except downwind).

Another view of this: with in-mast furling you end up with a hollow-cut leech or some crazy 60' long vertical battens that still don't make a big difference. Now you have an inefficient sail that costs more. A reefed or smaller batwing main sail can drive the boat at the same speed with LESS surface area to handle, a lower center of gravity etc.

The only valid argument for in-mast furling is that push-button deployment and reefing. I never ever saw another valid argument for it.

ciao!
Nick.
Hey Nick,

I didn't mean to insinuate that I was a fan of in mast furling, I'm not. I was just trying to point out that "going faster" on a cat isn't usually the same concern that exists on a mono. I would not let the fact that the particular boat in question might not achieve the highest possible level of performance - deter me from considering it, if it's an otherwise good boat. I see many people who make the switch from mono to multi bring with them their same thirst for being able to point the highest - and sail the fastest. That simply need not be as big of concern on the cat imo - as you'll still very likely arrive at your destination faster than you would in a mono - even though your can't point as well. Unless he plans on racing - the performance hit of that in mast reefing shouldn't be a deal killer if it's a sound boat, at a good price, that he's satisfied with otherwise.

Also, I think I probably better change my sig a bit. I'm not George Carlin. George Carlin was the comedian (rip) responsible for my signature!!
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Old 21-03-2009, 14:32   #8
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I agree that if you are starting from scratch, or have the money to change, then an in-boom system is better.

However, and in-mast system should not be totally derided just cause you dont like it and it has some performance limitations. There are times when an in-mast has distinct advantages.

In particular when you are short handed, an in-mast system makes things a lot easier, and leads to reefing at the right time because it is easy, rather than putting it off because it is hard work.

A lot of the problems experienced with an in-mast system should really be aimed at the sails rather than the in-mast. The use of standard dacron is a real mistake. The not quite so new sail becomes baggy and leads to the performance problems reported, it also leads to jams.

A new laminate, or even better a spectre reinforced dacron will keep its shape, and allow reasonable performance. The use of full vertical battens will assist this, but do increase the possibility of problems. You then need to be able to adjust the outhaul tension, and this demands a winch.

Once you have got used to this systems peculiarities, then the disadvantages can balance the advantages.

I would still go for an in-boom system as it lowers the centre of effort and the weight as you reef. However, unless you have a behind mast rather than in-mast, it would be an expensive option to change.
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Old 21-03-2009, 15:12   #9
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I tend to agree with you here. When I hear people talk of trying to get every bit of speed out of a cruising cat, I'm just left scratching my head. You're going to spend more time tying to slow the thing down than you are trying to speed it up.
so help me understand this. Folks that sail boats like Chris White's Atlantic, Outremer, etc are always looking to reduce weight and increase speed. And they are cruisers on long passages, not racers. On the other hand I've heard many people talk about slowing it down, staying in control and comfortable. I haven't heard anyone say that cruising along on an Atlantic 48 at 10-12 knots all day is uncomfortable.

So my question, is this just a matter of "personal comfort level", or is it that the design of some cats just makes them uncomfortable at speeds where other cats are fine. I'm sure just it's a little of both, but we are kind of talking about cats in general here. I've got to believe that there is less variance in what people would call comfortable (especially over a long passage), than there is in different boats reaction to speed and sea state. Thus the sweet spot for each boat is very different.
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Old 21-03-2009, 16:00   #10
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There is a big variance in what is considered acceptable risk.

There is a big difference in acceptable damage

There is a big difference in required comfort level

There is a big difference in sailing characteristics

There is a big difference in area and type of sailing - I.e. north atlantic/north sea long distance cruise - the speeed/likelihood of damage/impact of that damage equation is very different to day sailing in the Whitsundays (unless there is a cyclone nearbye)

All of which (and many more) means that what one person will do in one cat, is totally different to somebody else in a different cat, different location.

Personally, I am a believer on long distance sailing that protection of the boat is a major survival trait. That means reefing early, not driving like a sports car (a technique that is fine for day sailing, or with a big crew, but not short handed away from land), preserving the boat and sails etc.
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Old 21-03-2009, 16:14   #11
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so help me understand this. Folks that sail boats like Chris White's Atlantic, Outremer, etc are always looking to reduce weight and increase speed. And they are cruisers on long passages, not racers. On the other hand I've heard many people talk about slowing it down, staying in control and comfortable. I haven't heard anyone say that cruising along on an Atlantic 48 at 10-12 knots all day is uncomfortable.

So my question, is this just a matter of "personal comfort level", or is it that the design of some cats just makes them uncomfortable at speeds where other cats are fine. I'm sure just it's a little of both, but we are kind of talking about cats in general here. I've got to believe that there is less variance in what people would call comfortable (especially over a long passage), than there is in different boats reaction to speed and sea state. Thus the sweet spot for each boat is very different.

Hey there Mark,

Both the Atlantic, and the Outremer, are performance boats. They have a more aggressive hull shape, and are on the lightweight end of the spectrum for cats their size. The reason owners of those boats are always trying to shed weight is that their boats are less forgiving to being overloaded, than say - a Leopard 43, or Lagoon 440. The Leopard/lagoon are a little bit heavier, with a wider hull shape, offering more room and load carrying capacity - but at a hit on performance. The primary reason that you'll have owners of the Atlantic and Outremer speak to performance is because that's what they highly desired in a boat - performance, hence the purchase of performance oriented boats. When you goto weather in an Outremer, you're going to have less chance of slamming - and will point better - than you would in the Leopard. The FP Belize the OP is considering is about smack dab in the middle between the Outremer/Atlantic and the Leopard/Lagoon on the performance scale. It's provides a good bit of performance, but not at the same expense of load carrying capacity as does the Outremer.

For some, the sailing is the real attraction to boats. For others, it's the overall lifestyle of cruising. The latter are more likely to be attracted to a boat that maximizes carrying capacity and accomodations. The former is more likely to compromise some of those things in favor of maximizing performance. So it's more a case of from which perspective you've arrived to sailing. Do you want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, or would you rather be able to take more goodies with you and travel a few knots slower? In answering that question - which of the above boats you'd consider would be obvious.

But on all of the above cats, sea state ultimately determines just how aggressive you can safely travel. And the reality is that if you start pushing any of them past the point of the "Admirals" comfort zone - you're going to get "the look" and will be slowing down accordingly. If you start slamming, you're going to tail off a bit. If you start surfing down the front of a wave too fast out of phase - you're going to be trying to slow down. The realities of long distance passagemaking generally see's one give back a bit of performance in favor of comfort and less stress on the boat. Much moreso than is often the case with short coastal jaunts. This is reflected in the choices in the marketplace. There are more cruising cats which favor load carrying capacity over performance because there are more buyers for those vessels. Performance vessels will operate more comfortably at maximum speed than will more accomodations-centric vessels so it affects the way you'll sail each type.

Considering the boat the OP is considering, and weighing it's performance potential based on it's design with the sailing style the boat is likely to invite - I'd say MOST people would be just fine with the slight performance hit as a result of the in mast furler on THAT boat. The hit is likely negligable for 95% of all the time he'll spend sailing it. In other words, not nearly big enough of a hit to have it be a deal breaker on what he considers an otherwise worthy candidate for consideration of purchase. Now if he said that furler was on an Outremer? I'd advise that he run for the hills, since the fact that he's looking at the Outremer already tells me that performance is near the TOP of his list. But again, for the average Belize buyer - that in-mast furler performance hit wouldn't be a deal killer...
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Old 21-03-2009, 16:19   #12
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There is a big variance in what is considered acceptable risk.

There is a big difference in acceptable damage

There is a big difference in required comfort level

There is a big difference in sailing characteristics

There is a big difference in area and type of sailing - I.e. north atlantic/north sea long distance cruise - the speeed/likelihood of damage/impact of that damage equation is very different to day sailing in the Whitsundays (unless there is a cyclone nearbye)

All of which (and many more) means that what one person will do in one cat, is totally different to somebody else in a different cat, different location.

Personally, I am a believer on long distance sailing that protection of the boat is a major survival trait. That means reefing early, not driving like a sports car (a technique that is fine for day sailing, or with a big crew, but not short handed away from land), preserving the boat and sails etc.

Nods in complete agreement.

Reminds me of my windsurfing days in Hawaii when we use to all gather together on shore while just a small handful were out enjoying a perfect day of large waves and high winds. We'd all just stare, and when a beach goer would walk by - see all our gear, and ask why we were not out there - we'd just say "It's too expensive today" . The only guys out there were the ones on $10,000 a month allowances from dad. the rest of us simply couldn't afford chancing breaking a few thousand dollars of gear.
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Old 21-03-2009, 16:22   #13
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One more nail in the coffin: an in-mast furling sail keeps a lot of weight high, increasing the loads on the rigging and screwing with the design moments of inertia of the vessel. In my mind, the only possible reason for paying that much money for a little more convenience is to keep the Admiral happy. But the boat's for sale anyway!

I would not consider in-mast furling an asset. At the very least, the additional maintenance must be factored into the purchase price.
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Old 21-03-2009, 16:47   #14
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I still sense that the posters in this thread don't understand me; I blame that on my English skills, so please let me try it again:

A cruisers sailboat isn't just concerned with speed. Safety and comfort are big factors too. But that doesn't mean that changing systems to types that perform less is a wise step to take, it actually isn't.

A stupid but not so stupid example: a boat comes with a 75 hp diesel engine and can do 7 knots with it. Now one can say that he doesn't care for that 7 knots, 6 is fine too, but that doesn't mean you are better off by throwing the timing of the fuel pump off until you can only do 6 knots. It would be much better to 1) limit throttle until you only do 6 knots or 2) if engine is old and needs replacing: buy a 60 hp engine instead. Both better solutions don't mess with the engines efficiency.

For sails, let's limit this to just the main sail; it is always better to have a high performance sail with less surface area to go 7 knots than a low performance sail with more surface area to go 7 knots. I'll list the reasons:

1. Less surface area means less sail to handle: more comfort.
2. Less surface area means less power is transferred from the wind into the rig. There will be less tension on the sheet, halyard, traveler, winch, jammer etc. That's all good stuff and might even save money when lighter components can be selected.
3. More surface area means more power is transferred from the wind into the rig. As that extra power is NOT converted into more speed, it is wasted and results into more wear of the rig or less comfort (more heeling on mono-hull or more stress on mast and rigging on multi-hull)

That last point needs more insight as I think many reading this thread under-estimate that. When a mono-hull heels (I come to multi-hulls, keep reading ;-), several things happen:

1. The heeling is an automatic upper limiter for the force that the sails can put on the rigging. Shock loading during gusts are absorbed by the heeling. The force put on the rigging is the same as when one would pull the mast down to waterlevel using a halyard. This is the maximum force.
2. As the mono-hull heels, the sail is feathered for the wind that is blowing horizontal. So the force that the wind transfers to the sail decreases.

Now the same two points for a multi-hull:

1. There is no upper limit of force that the sails can transfer to the rigging. The multi will want to heel but can't and instead of relieving that force into heeling, it is absorbed by the rigging, chainplates and the hull. This is why multi's need a stronger rig

2. As there is no heeling, the force of the wind into the sail doesn't decrease either. Shock loading from gusts are fully transferred into the rig.

Now, all that talk about forces on rigging: most of that is transferred into forward speed. This helps you get to your destination. But part of the force is the result of non-perfectly shaped sails. It only makes sense to limit that part as much as possible.

Now, when we have a high performance sail and the conditions allow us to fly all of it in comfort, we go faster. Speed is safety too, it exposes you to less weather during a crossing, less fronts, squalls etc. This doesn't matter much for daysails when time is no issue.

Touch-button reefing: choose in-boom
Quick & easy reefing: electric winch for reefing lines.

If you already have in-mast furling, you have it. But the OP is considering a cat with in-mast, without any commitment yet!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 21-03-2009, 17:38   #15
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furling main

In my former life as a monohull sailor I had a Beneteau with a furling main and in spite of all the nay sayers I was very happy with it. The loose foot and the furling feature proved to be surprisingly versatile in terms of adjusting sail shape. That said in my Canadian waters we often have light air and every bit of square footage is appreciated.
In the Carribean the winds are generally better and the loss of sail area would not be an issue for much of the year.
I am tempted however to discourage this buyer - stay away from the FP Belize Maestros!!!!!! ( I won't mention that I am interested in the same boat and I don't want other buyers pushing up the prices.... (:-)) )
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