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Old 02-03-2016, 09:59   #16
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Re: In mast furling or slab

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I would opt for slabs in a small boat. I can slab reef sails up to about 40 sq m (some 450 sq ft) working alone, at night, in the rain, and downwind too. The smaller the sail, the easier the task.
Warning, thread drift.

Have seen some mention in previous threads on reefing while running downwind. Can you clarify how that works?

Many years ago I tried reefing downwind and didn't work out too well. The biggest problem as I recall was the main fouling on the shrouds and spreaders so it wouldn't lower. I ended up slacking the halyard a bit rounding up enough for the main to blow clear of the spreaders, let the sail fall. If the bow blew off and the main wasn't down enough enough, repeat the process. Of course when it's really blowing and waves are bashing and crashing, turning upwind to reef gets exciting so would love to figure out the downwind technique.
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:29   #17
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Re: In mast furling or slab

I was a reluctant convert to in-mast furling, and although you give some things up, you get a lot in return. A few months ago we got caught off the coast of NC on a night when it was supposed to be 15-25 and it built to a steady 35-40 with gusts to 50. It was great to be able to furl the main (and jib) basically right down to the clew reinforcements, and without having to go onto the deck (in - no exaggeration - 15 foot broadside waves).

There are some things to learn. One of them is that if you never put your furling line on a winch, you'll probably never get into serious trouble. Seven years I sailed a Hunter 36 and I never winched the main or the jib, but some people insist on using the winch instead, and that's where big problems begin.

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Old 02-03-2016, 10:38   #18
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Re: In mast furling or slab

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Hi I'm looking to buy a live aboard and ultimately trans Atlantic onwards to circumnavigate . I have been told in mast furling is a no no go for slab . Reasons given are that in mast tend to jam and if in a pickle or if the weather should pick up then I could find myself not being able to drop the main
Any thoughts or experiences please


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Place yourself in your future boat sailing north on the leeward side of Grenada full sails nice breeze and a fast moving squall comes down the mountain and hits you broadsides at 50+knts. Slab and drop the main in a second or two saves the boat and you, while cockomimi in mast or in boom furling either blows out or badly tears up the main or slams the boat in the water broadside. I know I was there. For what its worth.
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:40   #19
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Re: In mast furling or slab

I have a Bavaria which came with in mast furling, and I've sailed many thousands of miles on both gaff rig, and slab furling.

I would strongly recommend that you go for a modern fully battened slab reefing main. Battens on a mast track, and lazy jacks. Not a bag as the bag creates a lot of windage.

A fully battened main can have a lot of roach (curved leach) therefore gives more drive/power. Because of the track/battens you are able to drop or reef off the wind.
It will set much better as unlike the in mast main. It does not have to be as flat, and can have a much better shape.


If I were ordering a new Bavaria that would defiantly be my choice. Also the winches supplied on the Bavaia are in my opinion on the small size. The size is ok in theory, and according to the figures. But, in practice for serious sailing...order larger!

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Old 02-03-2016, 10:43   #20
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Re: In mast furling or slab

For cruising my preference would be in boom furling, all or most of the advantages of in mast furling plus you can get roach, and if it fails it fails safe, you just release the halyard and it drops to the deck like a slab boat. Then would be slab reefing the in mast.

We had in mast furling for 15 years, and rarely had jamming problems but it did happen. The system was fine, I just never liked the sail shape and that detracted from my enjoyment.

I don't see any of them as a safety issue however. So do what fits you.
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:48   #21
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Re: In mast furling or slab

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. . . The system was fine, I just never liked the sail shape and that detracted from my enjoyment. . . .
I tend to agree with this, and this is the reason I would definitely go with a full batten main for coastal sailing or in benign latitudes.

The shape issues with in-mast furling can be mitigated to a certain extent with a well made laminate sail with straight luff and vertical battens. Still not as good as full batten main with a good roach, but much less "detraction from your sailing enjoyment".
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:09   #22
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Re: In mast furling or slab

Zanshin's discussion of the mast furl is the best I've seen so far on this forum - sez I, who absolutely loathes mast-furls :-)

Barnakiel makes the salient point: At some area of canvas a man's physical ability to reef without help becomes exhausted. Barnakiel sez 450 SqFt. I've always reckoned that 400 SqFt is my personal limit. Beyond that a man needs help, either in the form of additional human brawn, or in the form of mechanical contrivances. Given that we are amatoor sailors, we are condemned to the use of mechanical devices (competent brawn being in short supply), and for some reason - driven by marketing, I'm sure - the mast furl seems to be fashionable, however much it offends against the engineering dictum of reducing entities.

Few of us have the luxury of designing from scratch, but if Dame Fortune should be so kind to me, I would consider that on a length of 50 feet or thereabouts, and a displacement of 18 or 20 tons, I should need about 1,200 SqFt of sail in total for a SA/D ratio of 17.5. This for practical purposes dictates a ketch rig. One or more areas on a one-sticker would be larger than my criterion of 400SqFt(max). Schooners and yawls do not come into consideration for various reasons. So, preliminarily, a 500 foot fore-triangle split in two, say 175 foot Staysl and 325 foot jib, a 425 foot Main and a 275 foot Mizzen. Nothing there I couldn't handle alone, even in my dotage, without mechanical contrivances, and Willy Occam would be ever so pleased. "Jiffy reef" would be the way to go.

But not designing from scratch, we must take what we are given by such as Beneteau and Jeanneau. I'm sure we can live with that, but it IS irksome because it sacrifices good design to the vagaries of marketing.

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Old 02-03-2016, 11:41   #23
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Re: In mast furling or slab

My 47 had in mast furling. My 44 mono and 42 cat had slab. I was basically singlehanding most the time, although we were a couple. I had far more crisis with the in mast furling, just a PITA. I'm sure some other systems are better than the system I had, which was a late 80's system. But I spent a lot of money trying to improve it with stoppers, dedicated winches etc... all to no avail. I loved it for local light air sailing as putting away the sail was simple and easy.
I find slab reefing to just be the simplest thing in the world.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:57   #24
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Re: In mast furling or slab

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That was my thinking . I will be single handed and was looking at the Bavaria 40 which looks the perfect boat for me needs with berths and space for visitors but small enough for me to handle .
If you install double line reefing it's just as simple.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:59   #25
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Re: In mast furling or slab

With properly done two line reefing led back to the cockpit, you can slab reef in around a minute in the comfort and protection of the dodger. No reason to go on deck to reef. There is a practical limit to how large a main can be slab reefed but if you are under that size, and you should be on a 40' boat, there is no reason to suffer the poor sail cut, weight aloft, COST, and jamming possibility of in-mast reefing.

Probably by the time you reach the size limits for slab reefing you are talking about having to have some mechanical force stronger than a human to power the furling gear. That will add even more complexity to the system. Of course by the time you have a boat that size an owner would have deep enough pockets to pay for the gear and the crew of technicians to keep it working.
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:26   #26
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Re: In mast furling or slab

Bavarias come with Selden in-masts and these give little trouble when properly maintained and trimmed. Our friends have them on both of their charter boars and they are doing fine.

The main on a Bavaria 40 is not very small, it is about where I would start having some after thoughts on which system is the more desirable one.

BTW, IMHO, if you are into a Bavaria 40, you must buy one with proper mast in the first place (?). An in-mast furling mast has a different extrusion from the slab-reef mast. Do NOT convert.

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Old 02-03-2016, 12:44   #27
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Re: In mast furling or slab

All invaluable and gratefully received 😎


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Old 02-03-2016, 12:58   #28
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Re: In mast furling or slab

Solo my 40ft Jeanneau with full batten slab reefing and I know it is the best choice for me 😃 I think I'd keep slab reefing if I went as big as 50. Beyond that, then I'd consider roller, perhaps in boom.

Before I bought my boat I sailed a Bavaria 38 with roller and even though I hadn't sailed for 23 years, the negative roach looked so wrong.


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Old 02-03-2016, 14:28   #29
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Re: In mast furling or slab

Strongly suggest you take a look at in-boom furling. My experience has been with Forespar's Leisure Furl, and it's worked for me for furling and reefing for many sea miles. And yes there is a halyard release in case there is a stoppage. Our system is manual, but can be operated from the cockpit without a lot of strain - it's been 100% reliable.

Have a friend with a Lagoon cat, and has put about 49,000 miles on his Leisure Furl, and is very happy as well.
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Old 02-03-2016, 15:03   #30
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Re: In mast furling or slab

Like most things sailing it depends a lot on the application. I have slab reefing and can drop a reef downwind in a squall within 2min or loose the sail entirely by simply sheeting in and lifting one clutch - but took 6 months working up to get it that good. Also RR gear as to much of a neg impact on performance for me, that why you don't see it on race boats. (roller reefing as distinct from roller furling)
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