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Siamese 05-29-2007 03:42 PM

Mainsail - in mast furling issue
I took delivery on a Catalina 309 this Spring and have been sailing it every chance I get. Love this thing. Still working out the little bugs here and there, as well as just getting myself up to speed with the boat.

Here's the question: When I let the main all the way out and then sail in moderate to heavier winds, when I attempt to furl the main into the mast, it won't furl. What happens is, the last few inches of the luff (just above the boom), doesn't feed into the slot in the mast like it should. I have to go to the mast and slip the luff into the slot and then run back to the furling line in the cockpit and furl it in.

My dealer came out and looked at the problem in the slip, and suggested I raise the end of the boom a little to allow the sail to roll in and out better. That seemed to help a little, but I'm still having trouble with the lower part of the leach jamming.

The dealer's a good dealer and will send the sail to the sailmaker if needed, but I figure the more you know, the more you know. Anybody with in mast furling have any wisdom to share?

Cruisingdad 05-29-2007 04:24 PM


Welcome to one of the little idiosyncrasies of in-mast. I will walk you through it as I have seen many people (many of them on this site especially) do it incorrectly.

You obviously know how to get it out... but do you?

1) Head directly (no, not off as has been suggested), but directly into the wind.

2) Break the mainsheet, the boom vang, and reefing line. You should be able to look up at the boom and it will NOT be level with the boat. It should be angled upwards somewhat. If not, you may want to put a bit of tension on the topping lift** (I will explain why shortly). Depending on the seas and the wind, it will be flopping around a bit.

3) Pull out the outhaul. Many people will tell you to head off some at this point but I have not found that useful. The outhaul will be able to pull out that sail without any problem... otherwise you are reefing it in too tight when you are returning the sail to the mast.

4) Once the sail is completely out, cleat off everything. You may want to break the topping lift at this point to drop the boom closer to "level", depending upon the roach desired.

5) Tighten the boom vang to the desired tension, checking the mainsail. The best way to do this is to tension down the line for the typical day by looking at it from the winward side and examining the rigging and mark the line with a marker for a permanent reference.

6) Fall off and set the mainsheets per the angle desired.

Reefing/returning the main:

Everything above, in reverse order, but here come a few of the "idiosyncrasies ":

1) Make aure you are pointed straight in the wind. I have heard many people tell you to leave a point slightly into the wind for tension. I prefer using my outhaul to set my own tension - much like when I reef the Jib. It is easy to do once you get the hang of it.

2) *** Make sure everything is broken BEFORE reefing, and that the boom is up at an angle. If your boom is not up at an angle, lift it up some with the topping lift (I would just have to see your boat to see if this was neccessary). THis is really the trick. If you watch a mainsail come out, it does not really come straight out and level with the boat... the clew kinda goes in at an upward angle. If you try and reef it with the boom level, you are putting a lot of tension on the head and very little on the foot, if that makes sense?? Thus, the sail does not reef in correctly and you will have "slack" at the bottom of the sail at times. Also, that makes it a bear to reef. It should reef into the mast with little effort. Make sure you lube your t-track. Make sure you are the one really controlling the tension going into the mast. I do reccomend some tension on reefing as you do want it to wrap around itself firmly (in order to fit into the mast).

It would be a lot easier, of course, if I could show you in person... but that obviously won't happen. THus, read through this and let me know if you have any questions. If that does not work, your sail has either stretched from being improperly reefed or was not cut right. If it was a new boat, er, hmm, I would tell my dealer it was not cut right (but I doubt it - smile).

Take care.

- CD

PS This is just my best guess. Others may have other suggestions.

welshwind 05-29-2007 04:28 PM

CruisingDad just explained the way we do it. We haven't had any issues being able to furl the mainsail.

Siamese 05-29-2007 09:36 PM

Thanks, cruising dad, that has the ring of good advice...I'll put it into practice.

sailingdog 05-29-2007 10:03 PM

And this is why I prefer slab reefing.. ;)

Melrna 05-30-2007 08:12 PM

Ok DAD.. Stupid question.. Does your system work with a loose foot mainsail? I haven't figured out myself how to tighten the tack of the mainsail without tighten up the halyard in a in-mast furl system. Most modern boats don't have adjustable topping lift without going to the end of the boom and re-tighten it by hand. Not sure how that will work with the mainsail up and out all the way. Seems to defeat the whole purpose of in-mast furling system. I have the same problem on my boat as well and if I tack into the wind with just a little wind coming over the starboard side of the boat my mainsail goes right in. But you are right about a loose or slack in the foot of the sail as it rolls up. I have noticed it too.

Cruisingdad 05-31-2007 09:31 AM

Melissa, I will PM you.

Siamese 08-08-2007 11:05 PM

Just a follow-up to my original post for the archives/knowledgebase.
Note that my original post indicated that the mainsail WOULD furl, it just couldn't start furling without first tucking in a little flap of sail that would slip out of the mast slot.

My dealer's been pretty good overall, but they couldn't seem to get their minds wrapped around this problem and kept insisting that my halyard wasn't tight enough.

Basically, the sail wasn't cut right and needed a little surgery. I took pictures of the problem which resulted in the dealer taking care of it. Seems to have solved the problem.

Cruisingdad 08-09-2007 10:00 AM

Ahhh, I see. Glad it all worked out.

- CD

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