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Old 27-09-2018, 02:59   #1
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Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Hello,
I am looking at a used Helia. A bit worried about the in-mast furling mainsail.
I would love to hear from the community any feedback and experiences.
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Old 27-09-2018, 03:19   #2
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

In-mast furling is fine as long as you don't ever try to sail. Here are the downsides (DISCLAIMER: I don't have an in-mast, but I work as a rigger, and in our community, these devices are regarded as unseamanlike and useless):
1) Complicated
2) prone to jam, if not furled with absolutely precise steps
3) prone to jam even when precise steps are followed if anything goes amiss
4) dangerous when jammed halfway out in any kind of blow
5) lots of weight always aloft (this is the problem with jib furlers too)
6) Expensive
7) bad sail shape leading to poor performance
8) if the whistle of wind across the mast slot doesn't drive you nuts, it will still do so to your neighbors. This is also why running generators in crowded anchorages in the evening, and using those older Air Marine wind generators that shriek ever louder as the wind increases makes you a jerk. Seriously, you have to consider that other people are out there.
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Old 27-09-2018, 04:18   #3
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

I think a lot of it has to do with the vintage of the mast and the condition of the sail. I purchased a '87 Norseman that had a new Forspare furling mainsail installed in 2007. This one has the offset slot which appears to have all but eliminated the jamming problems associated with furling masts. With the sail that came with the boat it would jam nearly every time. After replacing the mainsail, which had torn and was worn out anyway, it appears to work well and we pull that sail out every time we use the boat, even if we largely end up motoring. I understand with the older versions with the slot in the center jams were a serious and constant problem.

I have no issue getting the sail shape the way I want, it just takes some fiddling to get it right. I also like the more or less infinite reefing that you get, though I have concerns about how that sail will hold up heavily reefed in a serious blow but under all the conditions we have used it in thus far it has performed well.

What I don't much care for is the time it takes to furl. If we had to change sail size rapidly it can get a bit hairy since you can't simply drop the halyard and yank it down. I guess it could go faster with an electric winch but I would be cautious about ripping apart a sail should it jam a bit when furling. There is some added rigging involved to deal with the furling, not a huge deal but another set of lines and gear to maintain and replace when worn out. You also rarely get to see the condition of the halyard and shackle since once the sail is raised you tend not to lower it again until the season is over, or ever if you are cruising full time. This can lead to an issue down the road if you are not disciplined enough to haul up the mast regularly to inspect it.

I have not had the issue of the whistling slot in high winds, not sure why but I honestly haven't noticed it. If I had to replace the mast I'm not so sure I would go with a furling one again but it is what I have for now and I am pretty happy with it.
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Old 27-09-2018, 04:20   #4
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by ed91e View Post
Hello,
I am looking at a used Helia. A bit worried about the in-mast furling mainsail.
I would love to hear from the community any feedback and experiences.
Never had in-mast furling on our Helia 44, but wished we had, as it would get used ALL the time.

Climbing up and down onto the coach roof SUCKS big time.
Raising and lowering is not fun either.

We had in-mast furling on our Catalina 380 and LOVED it. We used it ALL the time, as it was FAST and EASY to use. We sailed MUCH MUCH more with in-mast furling.
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Old 27-09-2018, 09:10   #5
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

In Mast Furling Never Again.
I sail alone a lot so I bought a popular new boat in 2006 with in mast and vertical battens, I found it very dangerous due to jamming as the blow picked up or turning from a run to a tack. It seemed critical to have the boom perpendicular to mast however again under a blow hard to maintain. Actually I jammed it many times when there was no wind as well. If you are set on the boat you might want to think of a larger foresail as the furled main will not give as much power as a regular main. ( no chance for roach). I am much happier with full batten main on latest boat and can sail it hard with confidence.
Just my humble opinion.
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Old 27-09-2018, 09:34   #6
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

On FP cats the mainsail has a big roach, including now days a square top. These are mainsail driven rigs.
Adding in mast furling you can loose a massive amount of sail area, your sailing performance below 12 - 15 knts will be very sluggish.
OK if you like to motor, go for it.
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Old 27-09-2018, 09:36   #7
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

An interesting point I heard on this forum is : It depend on your sailing conditions. If you normally have light winds, sail shape and big roach of traditional main are beneficial. If you constantly sail in high winds, you are probably reefed most of the time. At that point your sail shape is not great in any case and furling main might have an advantage due to infinite adjustment. As far as jamming, in my limited experience it mostly has to do with sail condition and outhaul tension. If one sails alone it might be hard to keep constant outhaul pressure and furl at the same time
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Old 27-09-2018, 14:09   #8
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Furling main is a very bad and dangerous idea on cats. Ben has very well summarized the reasons why is so. I will add another one; the furling mainsails are usually thinner than classical ones, thus prone to lose their shapes much earlier. After few years not only the sailing performance which is close to none becomes zero. More importantly, with this kind of mainsail jamming is almost impossible to avoid. As a result you will have to change yr main more frequently. Obviously, no problem if you chose to motor..
I also don't understand why to use the classical main is so difficult for a cat with a solid bimini that you can walk on. I agree that this is a problem with most monos but not for cats.


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Old 27-09-2018, 14:30   #9
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Any thoughts on a roller-furling boom on a catamaran?
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Old 27-09-2018, 23:47   #10
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

This is a regular query.

When purchasing my boat , if given the choice of identical boats one with imf the other with normal slab reefing i would of chose slab reefing.

Id never sailed a boat with inmast furling and was scared of them due to hearsay like what happens on cruisers forum. Now 10,000nm later i can say i would choose the imf over the normal slab reefing without hesitation.

Inmast furling boats are faster! This is due to the fact its just so easy to put the main up , so you put it up everytime. While others are sailing with head sail only we have a balanced boat due to always using our main.

Maybe are traditional sail is more powerful for obvious reasons but if your not using it then it isnt, we arrived at an anchorage yesterday 1 hr before our friends that are on a longer boat, it was just to much hassle for them to put the main up in the 20knot wind.

Can they jam? Yes. Can keels fall off and cats flip? Yes, BUT mostly and its a big mostly they dont. Many, many around the world cruising boats have inmast furlers ,take Amels as an example. They travel the oceans of the world safely, in fact in may cases safer, no getting up on deck to reef, no turning into the wind, no lines getting caught, infinite reefing points etc. I often see more inmast furling mains in anchorages than traditional, are all these sailors just lucky when it comes to jamming disaster?

Stetched sails and poor understanding of how to operate a inmast furler can lead to problems. Sails wont last as long as they are thinner BUT they are also much cheaper to replace.

Most that are anti inmast furlers have minimum if any experience with them.
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Old 27-09-2018, 23:49   #11
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Edit, i have zero experience regarding inmast furlers on cats.
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Old 28-09-2018, 01:34   #12
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

We do hoist our main almost every time we leave the harbor or an anchorage, that is not a valid point for in-mast furling to say, main sail would be more often used.

As soon as we motor out, we use the wind on the nose to hoist it, we do it by hand pulling the halyard at the mast, while the other person takes the slack out of the halyard on the winch - this gives a lot of control and prevents square top batten hangers on the lazy jacks, it is 3 times faster than hoist it by the power winch alone and I am pretty sure - it is faster than
furling out from the mast.

But it is also possible to hoist and reef it single handed using the power winches.

To take it down, just go to the wind, pull the boom lift line and open the cleat for the main halyard, the sail is down in seconds in a emergency, you can do it even while tacking, keeping the jib a little longer back to shield / de-power the main while coming down.

It is a little more tricky to reef under load without pointing first to the wind, but doable with the power winches from the helm. First put tension on the boom lift, haul the reef lines by the power winch and slowly release the main halyard at the same time, then release the boom lift. You can even do it without the boom lift usage, but it is safer that way. If sea state allows to point to the wind, we use our engines and autopilot to stay to the wind, and reef the traditional way with de-powered main.

I agree, furling is easier than traditional reefing, I do like my furler at the jib and code 0 - but with in-mast furling chances are, you jam the furler especially in a rough sea situation and then it will become much more dangerous to sort it out than just drop the line.
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Old 28-09-2018, 02:22   #13
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
In-mast furling is fine as long as you don't ever try to sail. Here are the downsides (DISCLAIMER: I don't have an in-mast, but I work as a rigger, and in our community, these devices are regarded as unseamanlike and useless):
1) Complicated
2) prone to jam, if not furled with absolutely precise steps
3) prone to jam even when precise steps are followed if anything goes amiss
4) dangerous when jammed halfway out in any kind of blow
5) lots of weight always aloft (this is the problem with jib furlers too)
6) Expensive
7) bad sail shape leading to poor performance
8) if the whistle of wind across the mast slot doesn't drive you nuts, it will still do so to your neighbors. This is also why running generators in crowded anchorages in the evening, and using those older Air Marine wind generators that shriek ever louder as the wind increases makes you a jerk. Seriously, you have to consider that other people are out there.

Hmm. Not sure about this.

I do agree about the poor sail shape and a loss of some performance, but I think you've taken it to the extreme. There is more weight aloft. It's not huge amounts of weight but still more weight.

They aren't complicated at all. In fact they are pretty crude systems. Jamming isn't really a thing these days or shouldn't be any more than a baton car getting stuck. Not heard any whistling on my in mast system, or boats next to me.

All that being said. I wouldn't chose one on a cat again, but since I already have one I do appreciate the advantages of it in terms ease of raising the main, and reffing. Especially in the Med where the weather is so changeable.
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Old 28-09-2018, 04:16   #14
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

I am not aware of any issues on Delos....and they have a Few Nautical miles Behind them.......
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Old 28-09-2018, 04:34   #15
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Re: Feedback on FB in-mast furling main sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by daletournier View Post

Most that are anti inmast furlers have minimum if any experience with them.
I have a sailed IMS mono and cat, classical main mono and cat, hence I can compare.
In mono it's less dangereous as the boat can heel and discharge some of extra blow. The biggest problem in mono is the lost of shape , end result you cannot go upwind or you tack to 120 degrees. Obviously I am not talking about Grand Soleil or X yachts that don't use IMS (maybe there are but haven't seen yet any) but Beneteau, Jeanneau, etc.
For the OP who said "I haven't seen any IMS jammed", I have seen many as a charter operator. You may think of lack of experience or care for charter customers but 8 years ago an older french couple in circumnavigation have been cought to 60 kts of wind near Kas and they couldn't take the main in which was jammed. They were about to die and CG saved them at the very last attempt.
I also see now cats or monos with IMS and self tacking gib which is a terrible combination, one simply cannot sail on these boats unless you have 20 kts of wind from the beam..

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