Cruiser in training
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Don't believe the hype
Replying to an old post here, but I would just like to respond to some statements that I find incorrect or misleading so this will be a little lengthy. Looking at a product on a web page or in a catalog and seeing it in person are very different things, and from reading as much information that I could find on the web about the Harken Cruising furler, I found that 95% of people who had an opinion had never seen one in person. In my search to choose the right furler, I read everything I could find and talked to 3 different technical people at Harken before finally taking their recommendation and ordering the Cruising Unit 2
First, let me back up and give the important info. This furler is going on a Passport 47 which is a big, heavy, cruising boat which I plan to take offshore, so my first requirement was robust construction. There has been some talk about pricing here, which is where the Cruising Unit 2 really makes sense for me. Then MKIV Unit 2 extrusion will only fit over 3/8" wire because it's designed to be lower profile, so I would have to step up to the MKIV unit 3 which is almost twice as much as the Cruising Unit 2 which will accept my 7/16" wire. So this was the first big sell for me, but I was very worried about construction given the difference in price. So, I called Harken 3 times to talk to different people who all said that they would spec the Cruising Unit 2 for my boat or a brand new Passport 470 for that matter. Their explanation was that the MKIV units are more expensive because of the extra engineering that goes into them to make them lighter and better for racing and that racers will just pay more for lighter stuff. Also, with my rigging wire size I got caught in a scenario where I would have to spend much more if I wanted the MKIV features. Here are the differences that they quoted:
-Lighter extrusion sections to reduce weight aloft with 2 sail tracks, aerodynamically shaped to disturb flow less
-Furling drum is plastic in 2 halves so that it can be removed and the sail tracks can be used like a normal luff track for racing
-Upper swivel is lightened to reduce weight aloft
-Independently swiveling tack for better sail shape when reefed
-Stronger extrusion sections with single sail track, rounded for easier furling
-Heavier, stronger upper swivel
-Furling drum is Aluminum with a plastic top plate
So the main feature for me to consider was the independent tack swivel thing which was tempting, but not at the expense of durability, and not for twice the price. So, I decided to trust the folks at Harken and ordered it along with the quite pricey long link kit that raises the drum off the deck so that it isn't in the way of anchoring gear. Upon arrival, I can tell you that I was impressed. With most of the parts being matte black, it can look kind of plasticky in pictures, but that is all black anodized Aluminum. The extrusion pieces are beefy and very nicely machined. The toggle is a massive piece of cast stainless. Both swivel units are really nicely machined, black anodized Aluminum. It was installed last weekend and I am very pleased with the construction and operation of this unit.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that while the internet is a great resource and there are many good people out there with good information you obviously have to take much of it with a grain of salt. Especially with something like a furling unit where you can't typically just go down to the nearest marine store and "kick the tires" and very few people have actually seen things side by side, apples to apples. Calling Harken directly was really the clincher, and I had to get 3 of their employees to tell me the same thing before I would believe it. I hope that this helps anyone else looking for the same info. I think Harken makes good stuff and both are well made, they just have a different audience.