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GreggRuch 09-27-2004 09:00 AM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
Know this message will get some response! I have read many of the message threads on the subject. Here is my problem. Two boats for sale. One of them has a hood mainsail furler, the other does not. The boats are very close matchs in value, but one of the owners (the one with the furler) is more receptive to offers, and I can probably get his boat for around 95,000 (guess of course). The other boat is 120,000, and the owner is pretty firm on the price.
The boat in question is 40'', cutter rigged, displacing about 25,000#. I won''t name it here on the chance that the owners see this message (hey, alls fair in love and boat buying).
The 120,000 boat has been sailed in fresh water, the 95,000 in saltwater. Both boats have factory applied epoxy bottoms, so I''m thinking blisters are not likely to be a problem.
If the prices were even close, I would take the boat without the furler, but given the potential price difference I am tempted. I sail in the puget sound area, would be taking the boat off the coast in future, but not for some time.
It''s a large chunk of change ($$$). While I like the boat, I don''t think I can justify 120, but 95 is more in the ball park.
Can I learn to love (or at least tolerate main furling)?
Other thought - Can a boat with a mail furler be re-rigged with something like a harken batcar system without a whole new mast? I am thinking not, but don''t really know. Any input would be welcome (if you''re just going to bash main furlers, be my guest, I''m not really that fond of them myself, it will be good for a giggle). Thanks

Jeff_H 09-27-2004 09:56 AM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
The answer is none of the above. Neither is a good choice. The boat without the furler is too expensive and a 25000 lb 40 foot cutter is a bad candidate for in mast furling. The in-mast furling should be a deal killer if you plan to go offshore. I have friends who are delivery skippers who refuse to even deliver a boat with in mast furling if it includes an offshore leg. Keep looking.


GreggRuch 09-27-2004 03:34 PM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
OK, first response, pretty much as expected. As I said, I''m not a fan of main furlers in theory, but I''ve never actually used one. I am told that a "ballpark" figure for a new mast (to replace the one with the furler) would run me about 15,000 (would of course need a new mainsail as well). If I really think I''ve found the right boat, 95,000+15,000=110,000 - still 10,000 less then the 120,000$ boat. Definitly an expensive solution, but not one that would need to be implimented right away. I could use the mainfurler and see how well it works for me. If I can''t live with it, replacing it would still leave me (slightly) better off then going with the more expensive boat. Comments?
As to the comment that "100000 is too much for a 25000# 40'' boat", I don''t feel that size can be used as a very good indicator of value. A 50'' Formosa can be had for less then a 37'' Pacific seacraft.
I would prefer the mailsail furlerless boat, but will probably make offers on both and see if I can come up with a deal I can live with on either. All advice welcome (Thanks Jeff).

Jeff_H 09-27-2004 04:34 PM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
I did not say, "100000 is too much for a 25000# 40'' boat", What I said is that in-mast furling is a bad idea for a 25000# 40'' boat. In-mast furling works best on an easily driven hull and the weight for the length on the boat in question suggests a less than easily driven hull. I also said that the boat without the in-mast was too expensive, by which I mean, all other things being equal the difference in price between the boat with furling seems like too large a difference. I never would say that "100000 is too much for a 25000# 40'' boat" without a whole lot of other qualifiers.


capttb 09-27-2004 04:38 PM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
From what little experience I''ve had with furling mains leads me to believe that personal priorties will determine wheter you decide to live with it. Most I''ve been exposed to did require that you fuss with them when you start unfurling but worked pretty good going in. There is a penalty in the loss of roach area but it does ease sailhandling when shorthanded some. I can''t address reliability while offshore but they are quite common in the sound as you are no doubt aware. It does seem a little un-common to find inmast furling with a cutter rig, I can''t quite picture it.

jbanta 09-27-2004 06:01 PM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
With all I have heard abit main sail furling system failure I think a heavy duty single line reefing system is a better choice.... Jim

GreggRuch 09-27-2004 06:16 PM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
Jeff, sorry, I misread your post on the price issue. Please chalk it up to not having my head on straight due to thinking about a new boat. Hopefully I will be able to get my head back in the game before making a decision with my heart (i.e. falling in love with the wrong boat).

WHOOSH 10-20-2004 06:21 AM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
Gregg, I don''t know if you''re still pursuing the Hood-equipped boat but would like to offer this comment, regardless.

What troubles me about this kind of thread is that we''re generically addressing a topic (mainsail furling systems) when in truth mainsail furling systems aren''t generic. I wish you''d mentioned the age of the Hood system and told us whether you''d checked with Hood about a) availability of parts (including 5-10 years from now), b) access to the mechanism for troubleshooting, inspection and service, and most importantly, c) the design of the system. It would also be important to note whether you think you would be sailing offshore with a relatively new mainsail vs. a ''used'' (perhaps somewhat ''tired'') one, as this can make a huge difference in furling/reefing success.

When looking at mainsail furling systems (I''ve only ''looked'', not yet ''used''...but I''ve surely talked to many who''ve used theirs offshore), I see a wide variability in these systems. Spar cross-section, mainsail design that''s consistent with furling system design (some furling vendors recommend specific lofts who better know how to build a sail for their system), top & bottom vs. bottom-only swivels, mechanism access - all these variables can heavily influence your experience when sailing with a mainsail furling system.

I''ve seen a variety of these systems, including boom furling systems, suffer total or partial failure in each of the major offshore crossroads I''ve visited, but I''d also add that the percentage of failures has been very, very small and has usually not led to a catastrophic consequence. I''ve also found a very high percentage of owners who highly value their system, with only an occasional owner being ambivalent and almost no one regretting such a system.

I''ve been researching these systems because in time I think they''ll be a more reasonable choice for my wife and I, rather than the slab reefing system we''ll continue to use on our 42'' ketch. So far, the general conclusions I''ve come up with are:
1. there are many user-related issues that can lead to problems, which means we can address them with knowledge and skill and therefore avoid them
2. there are some good systems out there (e.g. Selden) and lots of cheap ones (note those offered on high-volume, built to a price boats)
3. some systems can be maintained and visually inspected in ways that all but eliminate surprises...if it''s done, of course
4. while there are performance compromises, the same can be said for non-variable slab reefing, especially in the real world of dark nights and lazy, tired and/or seasick crews, and many owners recover some or most of the lost performance by reefing/unreefing appropriate to the conditions when they would not bother doing so with a slab system.

I don''t think this is a black-white issue and digging deeper into the details of your prospective furling system might reveal facts you should consider but don''t have.

Fill us in; what''s happening with the two boats?


flicker 10-20-2004 07:36 AM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;
I''m happy to see this question answered in this way. I have always been curious about why in-mast systems get such bad press. I mostly read annecdotal stories of disaster, usually about sails jamming up in bad weather and blowing out. Yet, the one guy I know who has one, loves it.

Jack, I would ask, regarding mast cross-section, have you any idea of what type of cross-section gives the most problems? For example, I have seen a system in which the mast is essentially u-shaped and acts much like a cowl over a vertical roller-furling system. I would not expect a system like this to jam as easily as one in which the main has to furl through a slot.

I would also like to point out that while the in-mast furler puts more weight aloft effectively counterbalancing ballast weight, it also slows rolling motion, making motion in a heavy sea more comfortable. So considering a given boat''s particular roll characteristics should probably be included as part of the question as to whether in-mast furling is desireable or not.


bob_walden 10-20-2004 08:05 AM

In-mast furler; to buy or not to buy;

My only experience with in-mast furling has come from 1 charter this year of a 2003 benny 42 CC, 20,000 lbs displacement--not particularly easily driven. I found the furling unit to be simple to operate given a couple of best-practice tips: check the whole system carefully before leaving the dock, including all lines and hardware, and make sure the main sheet is completely eased before furling or unfurling. I did not do the checkout carefully enough, and thus the following story:

In my case, the actual furling unit performed flawlessly, but the furling line (the line you use to roll up the sail) was lead through several blocks to route it from the cockpit to the furling drum, and one of these blocks parted from its attachment to the deck while we were furled on a close reach in a 30 knot breeze. The entire main deployed 100% immediately, which could have been disasterous. After a near-broach I fell off onto a broad reach, and one of the crew quick-fixed the furling line problem by re-rigging it through a different block. It turned out that this boat, for whatever reason, had no cotter pins or other safety measures on any of the block attachment hardware, so the nut on the bolt attaching the block to the padeye had simply backed off. In hindsight, I was impressed that the explosive deployment of the main had not damaged the furling unit at all. Sailing performance was fine, although I suspect in light breeze the main would under-perform with no battens to give it shape. On the other hand, a lot of cruising boats, including the B42CC, typically have big 160+ genoas, and don''t rely on their mains for much in light breeze.

Jeff: I''d be interested to hear why your delivery skipper friends refuse to take furling masts offshore. Is it the possibility of jams, or is it something else? And isn''t it feasible to fully deploy the main, and then reef it traditionally? I realize it''s probably a fiddly job to drop the sail with the track inside the mast, but after all, there must be _some_ way to drop it. Isn''t it just a boltrope inserted into a track? I would think it means you''d just want to make sure you reefed even earlier than usual, so you have time to drop the sail if needed.


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