Heavy weather furling? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 18 Old 04-18-2008 Thread Starter
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Heavy weather furling?

I'll start off by saying that I'm new to roller furling and info y'all might take for granted might still be useful to me. I've been on boats a few times and seen it in action, a handful now in windy conditions. Most times I've been in windy condtions I've noticed two things:

1: It is a REAL bear to get a fully loaded genoa to start rolling up.

2: The sail shape looks like dog-vomit and the stress points on the sail are not reinforced.

So I'll tell you a little story from the other day, I was sailing with friends on a Cal 36 in sustained 27kt true. (Good times ) We made a bit of a bonehead move by putting up full main and then immediately unrolling the 135% genoa without putting a reef in first. That said, the boat, way overpowered, with a huge load on the genoa was being forced off the wind. I wasn't at the helm but I believe this to be the case. With the genoa loaded I was unable to pull in on the furling lead myself. It took two of us with one sweating the line. There was a sheet winch handy but the skipper vetoed that as we might break something in the furling system.

So, is this normal? I assume we should have turned into the wind but it appeared that skipper was unable to do so. The genoa sheet was out all the way to the stopper knot but the sail was still holding air like a dacron spinnaker.

Do any of y'all have a winch for the furling line? Should the boat have had longer sheets? How do y'all set up your boat, or handle your boat to furl down a big sail in the wind?

Once rolled up to where we wanted it the sail shape looked like crap with the "new" head and tack of the sail being along the foot and roach without reinforcing patches. This made us not want to crank toooo hard on the sheets for fear of tearing the sail.

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post #2 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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I had a roller furling drum come apart on me when my 14 year old son was using a winch to furl the sail. I would say using a winch on a furling system is fraught with risk.

Regarding your inability to unload the genoa, were you head to wind? It seems to me that sheeting in the main and easing the genoa would bring the boat almost head to wind and allow the sail to be furled by hand. 27 knots is very brisk but it isn't that much wind.

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post #3 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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Really shouldn't need a winch for a properly designed furling system, unless you've screwed something up.

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post #4 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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The furler on my boat takes a lot of effort to furl. It works much better if I take the load off the sail by easing the sheets and steering more downwind so the main creates a wind shadow.

I think you need longer genoa sheets. You should be able to ease the sheets so much that the sail can extend forward of the bow when headed downwind.

If I were on your boat I would have eased the main all the way out, steered downwind, and rolled up the headsail.

Lastly, SOME headsails can up 30% or so and still have decent sail shape. The sail on my last boat had a foam luff. I could reduce it from a 140 to a 110 and it worked well. There is a line on the foot of the sail to let me know when it is rolled up the correct amount. My current headsail is a 150 without a luff pad. It looks terrible when it's reefed. I have a new sail on order than be reefed.

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Barry Lenoble
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post #5 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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"So, is this normal? I assume we should have turned into the wind but it appeared that skipper was unable to do so. The genoa sheet was out all the way to the stopper knot but the sail was still holding air like a dacron spinnaker. "

Your sheets are too short if you can't spill all the wind from a headsail, even if you are dead down wind.


"Do any of y'all have a winch for the furling line? Should the boat have had longer sheets? How do y'all set up your boat, or handle your boat to furl down a big sail in the wind?"

In spite of the fact that there are electric and hydraulic furlers available, I would always advise against using a winch to furl. I've seen too many headstays twisted off at the upper swage due to halyard wrap.
The best way to furl, (sometimes the only way.) is to spill the wind without letting the sail flog itself to death before you get it rolled up.
Better yet, if it's blowing 27 knots and your unreefed main is set, let the genoa out a little at a time.

I
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post #6 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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next time, ease the main, ease the genoa, point into the wind a voila....

did you try that?
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post #7 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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Sheet in the main and luff up. Ease the genoa.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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post #8 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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Quote:
then immediately unrolling the 135% genoa without putting a reef in first.
This was probably your first mistake.
I have found that we must pay close attention when letting out the sail and to keep tension on the furling line. Otherwise, it just end up in a sloppy mess on the drum. Than when you start to pull on it, it can be fouled under itself, etc.
The other thing that keeping the tension on it is that you can control the ammount you let out so that you don't have to bring it right back in again.
In 27 knots true, you know your not going to want all that sail area. So why unroll it all just to struggle to roll it back up again?

My opinion, keep tension on the furling line when unfurling tha sail especially in heavy air.

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post #9 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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I've been in similar wind conditions with full main and 150 up. Two methods work for me. Fall off downwind, ease out the main and shadow the Genny, furl at your leisure. Barring that, ease the sheets, sheet in the main, get speed, round up while dumping the main and then furl quickly. Don't go head to wind cause if it backwinds, you're hosed.
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post #10 of 18 Old 04-18-2008
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If the wind is 40 kts or more, run off and blanket the genoa with the main to furl it. If you luff it to furl in winds that high, the flogging can do some damage.

I lost the clew in my staysail when I tried to furl it in 45-50 kts. And, my port genoa sheet was semi-shredded when I luffed the sail to furl in the same storm. That was my first time offshore in my new boat. A real learning experience!

p.s. get luff pads (or ropes) sewn into your genoa. You'll be able to reef it way up and keep it flat. Otherwise, the sail is worse than useless in heavy air. My favorite sail plan in 30-45 kts is a triple reefed main, staysail, and genoa rolled in so it just overlaps the staysail--a "Spitfire Rig"! The furled genoa adds power to punch through the waves.

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