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Old 24-03-2007, 08:50   #1
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Furler in a Gale

Most of my sailing was done on race boats. No furler. No taking it easy. In fact I was just thinking of a race where we had the Shy kite up in 30 to 40 knts of wind. We were fully crewed.

I have adjusted my thinking and now have a furler on my boat. My boat is a Cutter rig and the thought is that I would furl the jib and raise the staysail with a reefed main and continue along in a gale. The boat is solid but a nagging concern is when do you take the sail off the furler. Its obvious that at 60 knts you don't want it up there but it would be a pain in the arse to take the sail down in 60 knt winds fully crewed. Shorthanded? It would be a real fight.

So at what point would you take the genoa off the furler. 35kts, 40 kts, or do you leave it up furled.

I am considering getting an ATN storm sail (it wraps around the furled sail) but in a storm what if you had to take down the storm sail. Then you have a furled jib on the headstay and only the jib sheets and furler holding it in place. Not to mention alot of windage. Any thoughts/experiences.
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Old 24-03-2007, 10:06   #2
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My previous boat had a hanked on jib and I loved it. The flexibility was great.

I have a cutter now like yourself (Hans Christian), with a yankee on a furler. I made a post on here a while ago because I'm considering having it removed when I step the mast in a few months (varnishing / masthead work / replacing a rotted spreader).

A lot of people on here told me it was a dumb idea and that the "safety" of not having to get on the bowsprit during a blow made it "safer" than having hanks.

My vote is still out, but I'll definatly be looking into the cost of picking up new sails, and seeing how I can resell the furler.

Here in San Diego, you get to choose between a drifter and your diesel pretty often, and I've been a little let down by the lack of flexibility that the furler offers me. Sure, it's more convenient, but not all the way.

Linn and Larry Pardey even made a point of saying that the number one rigging failure they see out there is from roller furlers over working the forestay and being hard to inspect ( Sailing with Lin & Larry Pardey ).

I might get a lot of flack for this, but I'm a young guy, in my late 20s, and running around like a monkey on deck (with my harness and tether on) doesn't bother me much. My deck has high bulwarks, actual space to walk, and the yankee is the size of a napkin anyway, so if you drop it with a downhaul and leave it on deck for a few minutes it's not going to be the end of the world.

Personally the furlers seem to be aimed for short handed (single handed) sailors. If you don't mind the deck work, I can't think of a single benefit to be had from them.

The supposed "safety" benefit from them is dismissed in my mind by the increased wear on the forestay, the fact that it's a notorious failure point, very few owners can explain how the damn thing even works, and that on a cutter you're hopefully not flying a 150% genoa out there anyway, so dropping the cloth when the wind gets going isn't really that big of a deal when you're talking about a yankee.
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Old 24-03-2007, 13:33   #3
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Hanks! Only way to go.

I "grew up" on raceboats as well.

I just run two jibs, big drifter and a working jib. depending on the day & crew I choose which one I bring on deck. Wife n' kiddies gets the working jib. Race crew could be either one or both. Single hand, half asleep, tooling about, main only.

Really simple.

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Old 24-03-2007, 14:51   #4
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Charlie - Most of the time the furler is a great work saver for a single handed cruising yacht. Like all tools, it can fail. So it pays to keep a good eye on the weak points. However, I've never seen 60 knots on my furler, 56 was as bad as it got. In those winds, I would be running and the extra drag of the furled sail I can live with - needs a bit more dangling over the stern though.
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Old 24-03-2007, 15:06   #5
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I've been in 50kts+ (but not 60) in a gusty summer storm with our furling system. I reefed the main all the way, and put out a "napkin" from the furling system. No problems, and the boat sailed well on a reach (there wasn't much fetch).

It was a very short lived situation, but it did test out the system.
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Old 24-03-2007, 15:45   #6
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Charlie-
When to drop the furled sail is the same as "when should I reef". If you have to ask yourself whether you should, it's already past the time to do it.

If you are racing and pressing for speed you leave everything up as long as humanly possible. If you are cruising, you decide "I can take the sail down in winds up to ## knots " and when you are either hitting that speed range--or expecting to--you take 'em down while it is still safe and convenient.

If the wx seems reliable, and you're expecting 'too high' but calming in an hour or so...maybe you leave it furled. But if the wx calls for "winds building to 45 knots" and you're already seeing 25+...Maybe it is time to simply get it down ahead of time.
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Old 24-03-2007, 16:13   #7
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Racers around here have furlers that take hanked on sails. That way they can put up the sails they want for the wind & still use the furler for cruising.

I like the furler. Don't like the added windage when it is furled though. It can make it hard to manouvre in the marina in the wind.
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Old 24-03-2007, 16:41   #8
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We have dual fullers on the Gozzard , a 36 ft cutter rig. The end of the bowsprit is 6 feet and I wouldn't be going out there in the chop we had. We brought the boat home in pretty big wind. With one day 30 knots gusting to 40 knots. Using the furled staysail worked quite well. The clew is blocked to a traveler so you get a decent amount of adjustment. It's pretty easy to make a pretty small staysail where on the genoa you really can't reef it that tight and have any shape left. Once the boat was reasonably balanced the sail plan was not a problem though the high frequency chop on the beam made a bit of a handful at the wheel.

I would say learning to properly use the staysail has been the hardest thing I've had to learn. I started with our last boat and the utility of the flexibility contiues to find more reasons to like the little sail.

Without a full crew I don't see how you can expect to pull a full sail off a furler in in any kind of wind. I have left the genoa furled in 90 plus knots in the slip, but not by choice.
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Old 24-03-2007, 20:22   #9
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Thanks for all the comments.

RH & Jim It seems like going back to hanked jibs isn't such a bad option for storms but the 99% of the time when you aren't in storms the furler is a very nice tool.

Idien: I've never seen 60 knts either but if I was in that situation I would want to take the furled jib down before it happened. But I can see how it would be easier to leave the jib furled. I was wondering if anyone had a rule of thumb to take the jib down.

Sulli: Good to know the gear handles that type of wind. I would be concerned about the long term effect on the furler (meaning a couple days or so)

HS: sage oobservation in the last paragraph.

I don't feel that it is as simple as "When to reef" That can be reduced down to a rule such as -- Steady 20knts for five minutes furl the jib halfway. 25 knts tuck in the first reef and raise the staysail. 30 knts second reef etc. depends on the stiffness of your boat but you can set up rules.

I guess you could say 25 knts steady or increasing for 20 minutes take the sail down below.

Seafox:

What type of furler works with hanks? I like the idea. Maybe when I get new sails I'll look into replacing with one of those hanked on furlers.

Paul:
Thanks for the info on the cutter rig. I guess it is a matter of learning what to do and when. I would n't want to be out on the end of that bow spirit either. I have taken down a 155% genoa in 30 knts when I was in a double handed race (or as we used to say single handing with the owner) I was much younger than and there was no bowspirit but it was in the potato patch off SF Bay entrance. A nasty bit of chop.
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Old 24-03-2007, 20:56   #10
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I look at it this way. When you have to do something it's not like you could get out of it or you would have done so. You do what you have to when it has to be done because you know why.

Furling a head sail isn't always easy with the sail fully loaded so furling has it's downsides. Windage as an issue is not to discounted either. But furling a head sail compared to a trip on the bowsprit is an easy choice. The furling line won't pull that hard.

You just can't lose deciding early on in any situation and that is maybe the one out anyone has. You'll get into enough scapes that you didn't anticipate so you don't need to go looking for trouble.
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Old 25-03-2007, 02:22   #11
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I think the hanks fit any furler. They are a special sort that are sown onto the sail. They have hanks that fit in the furler guides instead of clipping on to the forestay. Lots of the racers have them sown onto their sails.
We regulary get 50knots plus in the marina. No one takes down their furlers.
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Old 25-03-2007, 11:45   #12
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The handbook of the Furlex talks about removing the drum and using the foil for racing. The sail does slide out of the foil under its own weight in light airs.

Regarding reefing an furling - I furl when I would reef - same thing. Taking the sail down and raising another is a different struggle, as to get a furled sail down means unfurling it completely (same as a hanked on one). But in 60 knots, I would leave the genoa furled and live with the drag. It would have been fully furled by 40 knots and I would not comtempate unfurling 150% in that wind.
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Old 25-03-2007, 13:14   #13
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Quote:
We regulary get 50knots plus in the marina. No one takes down their furlers.
Yeah if we worried about the wind here, we would be taking the headsail down every time we came back in. My furled headsail has sat very comfortably through 65kts. You just make sure it is wound in as tight as you can and a few wraps around with the sheets and ensure the furling line is locked off so as it can not come unfurled in a blow.
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Old 25-03-2007, 13:18   #14
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Charlie-
I guess you could say that deciding when to reef isn't a simple yes/no decision but rather a "decision matrix". And as Paul says, you can't go wrong reefing early. (Unless you're racing.)

If you have polars available for your boat, check them out. They may show you that reefing (or impersonating a smaller sail, i.e. a 130 or 110, which is almost the same except for the extra drag & lost efficiency from the reefed sail) actually makes your boat *faster* at a certain point, simply because the boat is staying upright and making less leeway. You gut feel and your butt may tell you it is slower, but with the rail dry and the boat upright, you may actually gain both speed and rudder control by reefing early.

If you don't have polars, the way to confirm this is to go out in those conditions and run a couple of trials each way. Note the speeds and see if they agree with your instinct or not.

So then your decision matrix probably comes down to something like this:
1-Which way are conditions going? If wind strength is increasing and a gale coming, can I safely reef (furl) if I delay?
2-Will I risk busting gear if I delay?
3-Will I make the boat any faster or slower if I reef now?
4-Will I risk my own safety if I delay?

Your own list may have some different priorities and items on it, but if you take the time to actively think about them, and write them down along with the decision points you will use, you can probably come up with a guideline to follow, so you don't have to "think" about it when things may otherwise be busy, or the crew fatigued, etc. (And whether you are solo or crewed, crew condition probably should be on that list too.)

Personally, if I'm just "sailing" and I hear myself thinking about reefing, that's when I'll reef. Unless I'm Real Damn Sure it is just gusting out and that's going to end real soon.
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Old 25-03-2007, 13:33   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idiens
...Regarding reefing an furling - I furl when I would reef - same thing...
Having had both (roller-reefing & hanked) I would roll-in much sooner than I would reef, or reduce (change) sails.
It's just so simple to roller reef, that I'm not concerned with being wrong (overly conservative), and having to let it out again.
Notwithstanding as has been mentioned; the prudent time to reef (or reduce sail) is when you first think of it.
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