Originally Posted by danielgoldberg
There's a Left Coast sailor for ya! I can't go with the deep draft on the east coast. Just not practical, and particularly not with the Bahamas in mind. The standard boat has a 5'9" fin, and we're just going to have to deal with that, if we choose this boat.
I am struggling much more with the mast furling issue. My gut reaction is to go with a traditional battened main, but my wife thinks I'm nuts. We don't race, or at least not seriously, so the performance degradation is not all that much of a concern to me (and this boat already is likely to be much faster than anything else we've owned). Likewise, most of the time I'm single handing with three other people on the boat (as my wife tends to our tots). The bigger issue is what to do if the sail jams halfway out? Can't furl it, can't drop it. That's my bigger concern. I've been doing research and asking questions, including of the folks at CW who reviewed the boat and gave it their BOTY award. The sense I'm getting is that furling mains have come a long way and it's not unlike furling jibs - initially, no one wanted them because they were viewed as unreliable, but now they are much better and no one really sails without them (Pardey-types aside). I'm being told by just about everyone who's using them that they work just fine, even in heavy air. Frankly, in Bermuda, there were many many boats with furling mains (not the racers of course, but perhaps even a majority of the cruisers who were there). Our current boat has a furling boom, and I actually love it, but of course, I still get to have a fully battened main with roach, and if in trouble I still can just blow the halyard and drop the sail to the deck.
Surprisingly, to me anyway, a traditional main now is more expensive than the in-mast furling unit. Still more research to do, but it's looking like if we buy just about any new boat, we'll need to address this issue, as they all come with furling mains and they charge you extra to go the other way.
You and I are in the same boat - figuratively that is.
I cannot comment on the original question of the Bene - but I can give some thoughts on the inmast versus traditional on a production boat.
My wife is generally with the kids down below too. That means singlhanding most of the time. I think you are in a very similar position.
On our other boat, (a Catalina 380) we had a traditional main. We enjoy getting out and sailing, but I ran the jib significantly more than the main because it was a bear to raise it and depending on the sea state, generally took two people. However, I really like the performance of the main. On the other hand, I ALWAYS had to go to the mast to drop in a reef. That verged on dangerous depending on the conditions.
My wife REALLY wanted the inmast but I was not convinced - but that is what we have on the 400. You really will lose some power with the in mast. For those used to batteneted mains, it will really be noticed. HOWEVER - I can pull out the main in 20+ effortlessly. I have an electric winch that basically NEVER gets used. When sailing, I am more likely to pull out the main over the jib since it requires less attention when tacking. When I see a storm rolling in, I (by myself) can pull in the main (with no electric winch and 99% of the time with no winch at all).
If you are the type of sailor that does a lot of long distance, I can definitely see where a inmast would be a big negative. Why? Because you often raise it once, set your sails, then off you go for a relatively long time. If you are the type of sailor that will go out for sails by yourself, lots of weekending and singlehanding, I think an inmast will really appeal to you.
I have heard many people say that offshore captains don't like them because they could jam, etc.... but mine has never jammed. HOWEVER - there are tricks to pulling it in that are a bit different from a battened main. Screw it up - and you might jam it. I wonder how many of those captains were REALLY familiar with inmast? My guess is that they treated inmast like a standard main and it is a bit different in how you reef it.
Bottom line - I bet if you get an inmast you will use the main much more becuase "raising it/lowering it" it close to effortless. I went out on mom and pops Tayana 42 and helped them raise the main again. After my arms fell off and being fed a lot of oxygen, it reminded me how much I enjoy the inmast. But it does have its compromises.