Join Date: Oct 2009
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Hi again everyone,
As far as I can tell from my research and your great posts to my question, it's possible to singlehand a 34-40 foot boat without autopilot or roller furlings - as long as you have the sailing skills, a fearless personality and a harness.
There are advantages to head sail furlers, such as raising the sail without leaving the helm and no need to find below deck storage for the sail - something for a live-aboard to consider.
Negative issues with furling systems are more maintenance, UV protection for the furled sail, and difficulty setting a storm jib. These negatives can be overcome at a cost.
So for me, until I become a skilled, fearless sailor - I'll be using a below deck autopilot, furled headsails with a good system such as ProFurl, Schaefer or Furlex, a self-tending jib, and a gale sail that can be set around a furled headsail. Oh - and also a harness for every time I step out of the cockpit, of course.
Great discussion - Thanks everyone!