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  #1  
Old 11-20-2009
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dealing with roller furling jib failures?

Hi,

I was talking with a friend about the usefulness of a roller furling headsail for singlehanding. The ease of "dropping" it, the potential to "reef" it, etc, and I was told a story about a pin breaking off inside the furler, and someone being stuck with their jib up. They managed to get it down and were fine, but it got me wondering, how often does this happen? Is it preventable with routine maintenance, seasonal rebuilds or something like that? I noticed that the boats I've been on with roller furling headsails, I've not noticed a jib halyard, and I'm a little curious about how one deals with or avoids something like this?

Thanks.

-- James
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Smile

Great when they work teriable when they dont, they do have a halyard, they are very reliable byinlarge, but not good when you have half the sail rolled up and want to go to windward, they are a must unless your crewed up.
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Old 11-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros View Post
Hi,

I was talking with a friend about the usefulness of a roller furling headsail for singlehanding. The ease of "dropping" it, the potential to "reef" it, etc, and I was told a story about a pin breaking off inside the furler, and someone being stuck with their jib up. They managed to get it down and were fine, but it got me wondering, how often does this happen? Is it preventable with routine maintenance, seasonal rebuilds or something like that? I noticed that the boats I've been on with roller furling headsails, I've not noticed a jib halyard, and I'm a little curious about how one deals with or avoids something like this?

Thanks.

-- James
James,

Boats equipped with roller furling headsails, can raise and lower those sails just a like a boat that lacks the furling gear. Absolutely, yes, there is a halyard. You probably didn't notice it because the jib/genoa halyard rarely gets used except when changing headsails. Normally the sail remains at full hoist and gets stowed around the headstay, so there's no need to use the halyard.

I'm not sure exactly what mechanical failure your friend was describing. Yes, furlers like any equipment (winches, blocks, engines, etc) can malfunction, but when properly sized, installed, and maintained they are very reliable.

The worst case, very rare, scenario is if the furler somehow jams when the sail is neither fully furled not fully deployed. In that case, it wouldn't be possible to douse the sail in the usual fashion. But there are still options to get the sail under control. It's certainly not enough of a concern to nix the furler.
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Old 11-20-2009
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I will be in the minority but I really dislike them and there are several scenarios that will leave you with either all of the sail or a partially rolled sail up and you may not have any good options to get it down/furled.

One of the more common ones it the halyard wraps around the forestay above the top furling swivel. You can install a device up there that reduces that chance.
Another is you get caught by a sudden increase in wind strength and when you furl it in, it is furling so tightly that you run out of furling line and the sail is still close to half out.

I have experienced both situations on other peoples boats since I will not have one on mine.

It also depends on whether you are willing to compromise sailing performance which you certainly will with a furler.

I single hand and find my main more of an issue that the head sail but then I have full length battens that contribute to those issues.

Gary
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As we like to say: it's all about tradeoffs.

I have an uneasy peace with my furler. I came to them after years of delay when Donald Street went to furlers. His line (from memory) was: "No, it doesn't always work. Do your hanks and sail slides always work?" I had to admit that mine didn't.

Anyhow, on failure modes. Another failure mode is the failure of the furling line itself, either by chafe, or coming uncleated. If this happens with the sail furled, in a high wind, the sail will quickly unfurl to its full size, with probably catastrophic results. So the tradeoff is that you (should) expend a lot of care on the furling line.

Whether because the halyard jams or the furler line parts, I've read with some skepticism of people sailing in circles to wind the jib around a non-turning furler. But I guess if you're desperate.... The furler foil (around the headstay) is usually in multiple segments, joined together. It is possible (happened to me) for the slider (attached to the head of the sail and to the halyard) to hang up on one of the joints in the foil, so I couldn't lower the sail until that was fixed, which required going up the forestay.

I have a furler on my jib, but not on my staysail, because I want the option of mounting a storm staysail on the staysail stay, and haven't seen an option to do that on the market that persuades me. So that means we furl the staysail the old way. It's all about tradeoffs.
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Given most of the boats I'm looking at, and my experience on almost exclusively heavy "blue water" boats. (And my experience on them is all costal, and much of it inside Newport harbor) I doubt the performance hit I'll take will be an issue for me, although I totally understand it for racers or even those with a real need to trim a few degrees off their pointing. I tend to do this for the challenge of it, but seldom sail in circumstances where it's really necessary, more just enjoying the challenge.

I hadn't thought about the wrapping. Thank you.

As for the line, I think that's really a question of someone who just didn't have enough line. Oddly enough, I've sailed on hank on boats where people didn't have enough jib sheet to leave the leaward side through the fairlead. I never got that type of penny-wise/pound-foolish approach, and it's solved simply enough by getting enough line to deal with it in the first place.

Thank you though for your thoughts. A venue where the dominant opinion goes unchecked is sure to miss much vital information. I appreciate it.

-- James
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I think most of the issues identified here are common to the more expensive and complicated systems. The CDI people engineered out most of the failures described. It is extremely simple and very easy to install and totally appropriate for coastal/bay cruising. I did not want a furler when I purchased by boat three years ago, but put one on last summer after one day when I had to put in a reef, take down the jib and put in another reef, shake out the reef, put up the jib, put in a reef, take down the jib, put up the jib, and shake out the reef. Put it this way, I'm not 20 years old anymore.
John
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Old 11-20-2009
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I like our furler, but I don't love it.

Our previous furler was pretty low tech, the kind of low tech that makes you understand why they don't make them that way anymore.

We've had furler wrap problems with our current furler, but hubby had a MacGyver moment involving curtain tracks and self adhering tape (featured about a year ago in Good Old Boat-the tape, not the moment) and it got us through the summer without having to send anyone up.

I like having a furler I don't have to think about.
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Old 11-20-2009
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Furlers are great for most "short handed" cruising and even for beer can racing where you are not in the "serious" category. However, like most things on a boat, they require regular maintenance like lubrication, checking and changing the furling line, etc. Even then, they can fail (very rarely compared to how wide spread there use has become), and usually the failure can be traced to a "lack of proper and regular maintenance" (but not always). Yes there are tradeoffs such as sail shape in a partially rolled sail, but even these can be minimized by using a padded luff or ensuring that you are using the best size sail for your boat and expected conditions (for example a 150 is not a "best size sail for all conditions because I can roll it up"). If you are a "performance junky" or a serious racer, then furlers are probably not for you as you will be doing more frequent sail changes to optimize performance, but this is tough on the bow of a bouncing boat!! I will settle for a little less performance, but like the ease of rolling in a bit to better balance the boat.
Just my opinion,
Tom
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Originally Posted by ccriders View Post
... I did not want a furler when I purchased by boat three years ago, but put one on last summer after one day when I had to put in a reef, take down the jib and put in another reef, shake out the reef, put up the jib, put in a reef, take down the jib, put up the jib, and shake out the reef. Put it this way, I'm not 20 years old anymore.
John
Amen!!
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