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Old 10-02-2020, 18:16   #1
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In-mast Main Furling Tips

Hi ...
Any tips for mast furling main to ensure a good furl (no jams !!!) appreciated.
ie; pressure or no pressure on sail
if pressure, port or starboard (subject to direction the sail furls)
vang on, vang off
halyard tension
etc
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Old 10-02-2020, 19:01   #2
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Keep a little tension on the sheet when furling up. But not too tight.

Avoid furling up in a blow. Furl up in advance. If the winds get above 15kt consider reefing. Use the Genoa with the sheet as far aft as possible. A lot of times in heavy weather I sail with Genoa alone.

IMHO inmast furlings are for day sailing, not offshore.
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Old 10-02-2020, 20:46   #3
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

In addition to what delmarrey said, your mainsail is furled a particular direction (ours is counterclockwise). So, we help it when furling by being on a starboard tack. This orients the sail so it furls into the mast on a straighter angle.


Also, ensure the halyard for the mainsail has the correct tension.
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Old 10-02-2020, 20:58   #4
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Be sure the mast isn't tuned with a lot of "pre-bend" where the middle of the mast is slightly forward and the top back. When you sight up the mast it should be very straight.

As said, you'll quickly learn the right tension to get a nice smooth furl.

Before furling or reefing, adjust the vang/kicker to keep the boom at the angle where it furls best. Usually slightly less than 90 degrees (like 87) but it depends on the cut of the sail.

While you're getting used to it, always furl on a close reach on the tack where the sail winds best. As you get familiar with it, you can experiment with more points of sail. Don't furl with it luffing motoring into the wind.

Again, after you gain experience you'll find you don't have to be so careful. Today's in mast furlers are far less jam prone than the early ones. I read somewhere that 80% of the monohulls sold in Europe are in-mast furlers.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:09   #5
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
Keep a little tension on the sheet when furling up. But not too tight.

Avoid furling up in a blow. Furl up in advance. If the winds get above 15kt consider reefing. Use the Genoa with the sheet as far aft as possible. A lot of times in heavy weather I sail with Genoa alone.

IMHO inmast furlings are for day sailing, not offshore.

Agree. That is the secret for the sail to not bind up, especially when bringing in the main when windy and trying to reef.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:15   #6
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

As others have said always try to furl your main in on the tack that allows the sail to enter the mast as straight as possible. On my boat that is a Starboard tack so the boom is kicked out slightly to Port. Sail as close as possible to the wind using the Jib or Genoa to keep drive and let the boom out to de-power the main. Keep some tension on the outhaul so the main doesn't get creased as it rolls in and furl as quickly as you can. If you have to stop and reset the course or sail position rather than fight it. You shouldn't need to resort to winches unless the wind has suddenly picked up and you are trying to reef in a hurry. Secret is to lubricate all your turning gear every year (Teflon grease is great and so it WD40).

Also make sure there are no loose halyards or lines (mousing lines for spinnaker uphaul for instance) that could get caught up in the furling sail. I know from personal experience!!!

If you have a gas kicker then find the optimum angle for the boom and make a clear mark on the kicker so you can easily set the angle correctly each time from the safety of the cockpit. Around 85 to 87º is about normal.

Like a regular, slab reefed main the key to using your in-mast furler is practice. Try, try try again when the conditions are easy and get a good technique. That way when you do get caught out with a wee bit too much sail you won't struggle to get the sail in safely.

An In Mast furler is just as capable as any other kind of main sail when used well. We've sailed comfortably in 30+kts, survived 45kts squalls and thunderstorms and reefed in safely many times with ours. And achieved hull speed in our 40ft on multiple occasions. You just need to understand how to sail a slightly different way to a battened, slab reefer.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:50   #7
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

..just want to add to all above that I have this winter renovated the whole furling system in my Hood Stoway mast. New S/S balls at the top of the mast (and we made a plastic "ball retainer"), new oil in the gearbox, checked the coals and collector of the motor, and the halyard swivel. This unit is about 30 years old, but I tell you, it's indestructible. It will easily last another 30 years. Very impressive.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:52   #8
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

How old is the furler? I just recently had my mast down while replacing all the standing rigging, all electrical wiring, and installing a new radar. I took the opportunity to inspect the furler, especially since I saw some loose needle bearings. Good thing I did as the shaft on which the bearing ride was significantly scored. I had the whole unit rebuilt, with all new bearings. Now it furls so much smoother! Glad I found this now, as it would inevitably have bound up at the worst possible moment.

Regards,
David.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:55   #9
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

I have an in-mast sail..
When bringing out the sail, I point upwind, and take all tension off the boom, loosing the main sheet and vang. and just roll it open.
When bringing in the sail, again I point upwind and like the previous posts, I set the angle just right, sometimes even using the traveler to do so.
Then I tighten down the main sheet and sometimes the vang too. The point being is that you want to roll the sail into the mast flat. When I roll it up I keep a lot of tension on the outhaul and keep an eye on the sail where it goes into the mast, looking for a possible fold. If you get a fold into the mast thats when it jams, usually when you open up again. If it starts to fold, I open the sail up again and redo. My boat is from 2001, I understand that the newer boats are more forgiving and easier.

Oh and the trick I learned is that I can bring the sail in while hove to. No need for the motor.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:21   #10
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Generally, the best angle to the wind is either 1:00 11:00, depending on how your sail furls, you do not want the sail rubbing against the slot as it comes in. That angle off the wind generally allows you to have just enough pressure on her so she comes in nicely. As others have mentioned, find the right angle for the boom, usually a bit less than 90 degrees.

Also, I have had no problems sailing with my in-mast furler off shore- as a matter of fact went through hurricane force winds in the Atlantic on a trans-Atlantic crossing. The nice thing about in-mast furling is you have an unlimited amount of furling potential, and it is easier to furl, so it is done more often. I learned that to furl in big seas, when furling, I wait until I hit the trough of a wave, and then crank her in a bit because the wind is less there, then wait for the next trough and crank in some more. Patience is the key.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:51   #11
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

It took me a while to get the hang of it and here is what I keep in mind:
When furling in it is critical to get the furl tight. On my boat I use the cabin top winch to bring in furling line while maintaining a good grip on the outhaul. With bare hands I want the outhaul to actually burn a little when furling as crazy as it sounds. You want the furl tight!
I make sure the furling line is snug as I deploy sail via outhaul on winch. Snug on the way out and snug on the way in.
While heading into the wind I furl with a tiny starboard tack to match how sail rolls into mast; typically not much.
Make sure leach line and foot adjustment pockets (if any) are as flat and thin as possible. I have had sail work done specifically on my pockets to facilitate better unfurling.
Boom is more or less free; mainsheet is eased but has a few wraps on winch to facilitate control; vang is eased.
If possible pay special attention to the tack of the main. Mine used to get a little sideways which hindered initial ability to furl. Make sure tack lays flat as possible.
If winds justify full sail but I think a reef via furl is likely, I furl in main ever so slightly as I have found the first turn can be the toughest and most subject to problems.
When I sail with a reefed/partially furled main I try when possible to unfurl fully and then refurl so as to make sure things are good. Obviously if wind is blowing snotty you ought not to do this but whenever possible I make sure the furl is tight and consistent.
Practice furling and unfurling in settle conditions with no engine to get a sense of how things operate. You need to know how to make adjustments without an engine to keep you into the wind.
Main halyard needs to be tight but not too tight; you might have to experiment.
Don't let anyone else furl in a casual "it ought to work this way" manner. Every time I let someone "experienced" operate my furler I had issues on the next deployment. Find what works for you and don't deviate from it. If you get a jam on the way out, furl in a bit and try again focusing on keeping everything as tight as possible.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:08   #12
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Most of the above is true, I would like to list them in order of importance.
Boom height. Completely slack the vang.
No mast bend. Some can be tolerated but ideally none.
Outhaul tension. Enough so no folds appear.
Proper tack, opposite side of the slot.
In mast furling and Genoa furling are very reliable and necessary for short handed cruisers. They do need to be inspected annually and rebuilt occasionally.
I hesitate to use the electric option only because a friend had his fail and was stuck in Panama for months getting his $15k replacement unit. No way to bypass the broken gearbox.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:22   #13
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

Have you checked your spar manufacturer's website? RTFM???
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:36   #14
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

I would like to add one more item to Steve's list.

Mainsail in good condition and not blown out. It will be cut fairly flat anyway, but if it's old and baggy there is more chance of a crease which causes the jam, never mind having a hopeless sail shape proving zero drive but lots of heeling. Looks fast going sideways with the rail in the water, until some old grandpa goes past you to windward sailing level, one hand on the tiller the other holding a mug of tea.

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Old 11-02-2020, 12:26   #15
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Re: In-mast Main Furling Tips

What make of in-mast furler do you have? Do you have battens?

There's a lot of good advice above, but some of it won't make much sense for your application depending on the brand /configuration you have. The two main items that are transferable between all though IMHO though are a sail in good shape (not bagged out) and keeping the sail as flat as possible while furling. With Amel's and Selden's systems (manual and electric) I've really only had problems unfurling rather than furling, and the unfurling problems always traced back to poor furling practices or a bagged out sail.

Cheers,
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