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Old 30-11-2021, 06:22   #1
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With inmast furling do you need a trysail

Hi All,

Thinking about taking my boat off shore and considering the upgrades required. I plan to sail the trade winds and considering what sails I need. For heavy weather my question is do I need to invest in a storm trysail or given the infinite reefing that is available from a furling mainsail will this be sufficient. Also following the trade winds most sailing will be on a broad reach or down wind.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Mike
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Old 30-11-2021, 06:53   #2
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

While you don't NEED a trysail, you might still want want because
1) Your mainsail is unusable for some reason (destroyed, broken, etc)
2) You don't want the storm wear and tear on your expensive mainsail.
3) A trysail will be more heavy duty and thus more durable than your mainsail.
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Old 30-11-2021, 07:20   #3
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

The trysail is also for times when the boom is broken or otherwise unusable or the furling mechanism no longer works (e.g. if the mast has bent during a storm or the furling mechanism won't move). That for me is the biggest difference between a heavily furled mainsail and a trysail - the trysail uses a different track and doesn't use the boom.
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Old 30-11-2021, 07:51   #4
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

The above comments are all good, but nevertheless I sail in pretty hairy latitudes and sometimes in pretty hairy weather, and although I carry a Jordan Series Drogue, I do not have a trisail.


Unlike the case with a normal slab reefing main, an in-mast furling main can be reefed down to even a handkerchief if you like, and because it is cut flatter makes a really good storm sail.



A big advantage over a normal trisail is that the deeply reefed furling main can be instantly increased -- in my experience, there is often a very dangerous moment after a big storm when the wind drops but the sea is still up, and there is a risk of losing way and broaching before big waves, if you don't have enough sail area up to give drive in light wind. I really like that I can instantly increase sail area in such cases, and then reef it right back down if I need to. As far as I'm concerned, this is actually why God made in-mast furling. It's the best thing about it, and why I prefer it in really heavy weather, if not necessarily in more average conditions.
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Old 30-11-2021, 08:03   #5
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

So we are walking down the dock one day and stop to look at a stunning 65í yacht. The captain a lifelong sailor and his athletic son. They were headed to the shipyard to remove their in mast furling main mast. The mechanism jammed at sea in heavy weather. He told us they thought they would not just loose the rig, but their lives. His son fixed a knife to a pole, stood on the boom and slashed the mainsail. Competent sailors, seaworthy offshore vessel. Absolutely no doubt in my judgement about the truthfulness in their story. Lesson learned the hard way.
In mast furling in a large ocean going yacht ? Not a risk we are willing to take as any substantial mechanical failure can jeopardize the survival of the vessel itself.
Any fool can set a sail. Getting it down is another matter.
Captain Mark and the manatee crew.
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Old 30-11-2021, 08:29   #6
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

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So we are walking down the dock one day and stop to look at a stunning 65’ yacht. The captain a lifelong sailor and his athletic son. They were headed to the shipyard to remove their in mast furling main mast. The mechanism jammed at sea in heavy weather. He told us they thought they would not just loose the rig, but their lives. His son fixed a knife to a pole, stood on the boom and slashed the mainsail. Competent sailors, seaworthy offshore vessel. Absolutely no doubt in my judgement about the truthfulness in their story. Lesson learned the hard way.
In mast furling in a large ocean going yacht ? Not a risk we are willing to take as any substantial mechanical failure can jeopardize the survival of the vessel itself.
Any fool can set a sail. Getting it down is another matter.
Captain Mark and the manatee crew.
Suum cuique -- To each his own!

I prefer a nice roachy full batten mainsail for coastal sailing, and mild latitudes. That's what I grew up with, and nothing beats this kind of mainsail for beautiful shape. It's a bit more work, a little less control over sail area, but in mild latitudes you don't reef that much so it's no big deal.

But for gnarly offshore conditions, especially in the far North, I prefer in-mast furling, for the reasons stated.

Successful, reliable use of in-mast furling requires fulfilling a few conditions:

1. The sail must be in good condition. Any bagginess creates a risk of jamming. In fact it's best to avoid Dacron altogether. Laminate mailsails and in-mast furling go together like cookies and cream. Mine is carbon laminate and it works like a dream.

2. The furling mechanism must be properly maintained, lubricated, and adjusted. Sticking top furler will cause different problems, and the foil must have the correct tension.

3. You need to operate it correctly. In-mast furling is incorrectly and maybe even depectively sold as "easy" -- it's actually not, demanding significant skill to use correctly. Boom angle, furling direction, outhaul tension -- all are important.

Fulfill these conditions, and in-mast furling is not less reliable than normal slab reefing mains. Don't, and you will have problems. Many haters of in-mast furling have had a bad experience (or knew someone who had a bad experience) caused by going out in a boat with ragged-out mainsail on an unmaintained furler which was perhaps not even operated for years (typical delivery skipper experience), and who lacking any experience with in-mast furling just yank the sail out of the mast with brute force using the outhaul. Yep -- you will get a high frequency of jams if you do it like that. But that is not indicative of how in-mast furling works with fulfillment of the three conditions above.
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Old 30-11-2021, 09:04   #7
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

If you meet the criteria: sail in the right condition, mechanism works, and you operate it properly, there's no problem with r/f mains. When they work, they work. The problem is that the sail's condition changes, there are a lot of finicky parts that can stick, break, and shift adjustment or alignment, and the operator can get tired and make mistakes. Manatee's story is a case in point. Other setups do not have as many things that can go wrong.
JPB's and Zanshin's points are worth repeating.
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Old 30-11-2021, 10:43   #8
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

I decided not to carry a trisail. Four years of offshore sailing have passed and I'm still happy with my decision. Maybe I've just been lucky.
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Old 30-11-2021, 11:00   #9
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

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I. . The problem is that the sail's condition changes, there are a lot of finicky parts that can stick, break, and shift adjustment or alignment, and the operator can get tired and make mistakes. Manatee's story is a case in point. Other setups do not have as many things that can go wrong.
JPB's and Zanshin's points are worth repeating.

Not to beat a dead horse, but what "lot of finicky parts"? No more parts than a roller furling jib and not more than a main with one line reefing and batt cars.


To each his own, surely -- I'm definitely not selling them, and I myself prefer full batten main for many use cases. But as a rule, to which I've not yet seen an exception, those with at least say 5 years or more of experience with the system, have as much confidence in it as with any other reefing system.



I have 12 years and tens of thousands of miles with mine, including latitudes over 70N, an Arctic Ocean crossing, and more North Sea crossings than I can count without looking at my logs. In gnarly offshore conditions, in bad weather, give me in-mast furling every day. Your choice, based on your own experience, may be different, but base it on experience, not prejudice.
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Old 30-11-2021, 13:14   #10
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

I did not intend to jump the thread off the rails with the story. I think a lot of decisions during design or building revolve...for me only...around a ďwhat if, what then ď idea. The bigger the boat gets, the more questions I see. How can I get the flooding under control, can everybody get out if we have an X fire. If someone falls overboard at anchor (Natalie Wood) can they get back onboard by themselves. The questions go on and on.
I mast furling systems get hung up. There have been several ways suggested on line to fix the condition while sailing and to prevent it from happening in the first place. My point is simple. What do you do if you cannot correct the situation.
You can jump out of an airplane one thousand times but if your primary parachute does not open, most people have an emergency chute.
Everyone who undertakes a risk should have at least some idea of what to do when something fails. If your in mast system fails to reduce sail, I canít see a lot of good alternatives. My decision not to have in mast furling was based on this gentlemanís story. Every sailor makes his own risk assessment. I thought the story was worth posting as it definitely changed my mind.
Captain Mark and his manatee crew.
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Old 30-11-2021, 15:05   #11
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

I have never carried a trisail and so far have not regretted that decision.

When I order a mainsail I specify a very deep 3rd reef, so the area is nearly equivilent to a trisail.

If the wind strength was such that a 3rd reef main by itself was till too much sail area I guess I'd have to consider dropping it all together and setting a storm jib, by itself, forward. Not satisfactory but with our keel and rudder we could sail in that configuration.

So far we have not experienced the type of failures which would render our normal mainsail inoperable. However one of the most worrying times I had sailing was when we approached Richard's Bay South Africa, across the Agulhas Current, in a near gale, charging at 9 knots toward's Richard's Bay, and we had doubts about our ability to lower the main due to failure of the main halyard sheave aloft (it came down, whew!).

So, for me, any risk that I could not lower the main or roll it up would be a show stopper.
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Old 30-11-2021, 15:18   #12
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

We did a circumnavigation with a 45' with mainsail furling and with a trysail with its own track. Never came close to using the trysail. OP says he is sailing in trade winds. Don't see much need for a trysail. Undoubtedly there are better ways to spend the money.
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Old 30-11-2021, 18:36   #13
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

My boat came with a trysail, but I have never used it. Older ones had the foot longer than the luff and it was sheeted down to the rail, not to the boom. It is a much heavier weight and stronger construction than the main, so should survive a thrashing better than the main. (And it's probably a good idea to sacrifice a trysail rather than the main if something has to be sacrificed.) It's purpose is to provide some thrust but it is cut pretty flat to give some control and balance in extreme conditions. I have no experience with furling mains, but the sound of using a reefed furled main in conditions where a trysail is appropriate sounds sketchy to me.
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Old 30-11-2021, 20:28   #14
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

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I have no experience with furling mains, but the sound of using a reefed furled main in conditions where a trysail is appropriate sounds sketchy to me.
Like with any main, you're still limited by the durability of the mainsail materials under extreme conditions. The difference with a furling main is that you can reef it down as small as you need, so it'll generally be usable in significantly worse conditions than you'd manage with the deepest reef in a conventional main.
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:48   #15
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Re: With inmast furling do you need a trysail

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Like with any main, you're still limited by the durability of the mainsail materials under extreme conditions. The difference with a furling main is that you can reef it down as small as you need, so it'll generally be usable in significantly worse conditions than you'd manage with the deepest reef in a conventional main.

Indeed. And the other advantage is that the center of effort of the deeply reefed furling mainsail moves forward, and there's nothing piled up on the boom to cause windage. This is a big advantage in really strong conditions.



My staysail (my boat is a cutter) is made of extra heavy cloth and is cut flattish, for use as a storm jib. It is on the same size of furler (Furlex S400) as the yankee, so way oversized for that sail.



In really wild conditions I am using the staysail plus very small bit of mainsail, and all this sail area is fully self tacking, is low, and concentrated around the mast. This is an extremely stable, easy to manage configuration.



Anything too strong for that and I'm going to be running off. Then the mainsail goes away entirely. At some point I will pop the JSD and get rid of all sail.
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