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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 04-15-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Now try visualizing if you were alone and a storm come in quickly and the reefing jambs. There is nothing that is quicker, and more reliable than a two line slab reefing system, and frankly it is the only safe way to go when short handing a smallish boat. The problem with roller furling systems besides for their tendancy to jamb under load, is that they result in reefed sails that are the wrong shape for heavy air sailing. Instead of being bladed out as they should be in heravy air, roller furled sails tend to be powered up which means more heeling and helm problems. Even with the new foam luff systems, in a blow of any real length the leech and foot creep toward each other powering up the sail rather than being properly bladed out.

In the worst conditions with furling It is NOT a fast way to take down sail from the cockpit. You can roll the sail up but the increased windage in a real blow is enough to cause a knock down on its own. (been there, done that and already wore out the teeshirt) Dropping the sail means going forward and being down a sail that is only held in a luff groove which is not the easiest thing to do short handed in a breeze that is too big for the sail in question.

Jeff

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  #12  
Old 04-15-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Every boat should have a way to reef the main. There are lots of options, but the actual sail modifications should be performed by a qualifed sailmaker.
As regarding roller furling systems for the headsail, almost any system, properly installed will serve well. The problem most people have can be directly traced to improper or incomplete installation. Halyard wrap is by far the most common problem. The second most common problem is that people don''t bother to read the manual.
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Old 04-15-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Actually, in my sailing experience the real most frequent cause of of a jambed furler, is that the jib is rolled out in pretty light to moderate conditions, but as the wind builds so does the force required to furl the jib. this greater force pulls the furling line into the looser wrapped coils and seriously jambs the furler. This is especially prevalent when single-handing because it is hard to keep enough tension on the furling line and sheet at the same time.

Jeff
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Old 04-16-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Goes back to what I said about installation and reading the manual in order to learn how to operate the system. A ratchet block installed as the aft most lead block will usually provide enough tension on the furling line to allow it to wrap around the drum properly. This assumes that the first lead block is positioned 90 degrees to the drum, the line is the proper size, etc. etc.
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Old 04-16-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Again, while everything can be installed as well as posible and according to the manual, I have experienced so many jambed furlers, especially on boats that were sailed short handed, that I can say with certainty that sooner or later you will get caught in a blow taht sooner or later will jamb your furler to the point that a single-hander will not be able to free it. I love these pie in the sky claims for roller furlers but in reality they are a jamb up waiting to happen.

Jeff
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

re: Jeff
INDEED
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Old 04-18-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

For shorthanded sailing, one of the safest configurations is to go with a main that has slab or "jiffy" reefing, AND either a mast track and slides or luff groove and slugs. That way the sail stays attached at all times. You can shorten sails very quickly, as long as you are familiar with the technique. Bolt-Roped mains & jibs are great for racing and that "Perfect Foil" shape, but are just too scary shorthanded.

For the head sail, good old fashioned hanks on a wire headstay. Again, the sail stays attached and can be dropped quickly. Not as sexy as a roller furler, or as pretty as a twin groove headstay, but who cares about that stuff in a blow on a heaving foredeck!
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Old 04-18-2003
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

On a 25 ft boat, one reef in the main to reduce it about 30-35%, and a downhaul system for the headsail would provide alot of different sail plans very inexpensively. A line to the head of the jib to a sheave on the pulpit and then aft down the portside to the cockpit. On the foredeck a canvas is tethered to the bottom of the pulpit, with velcro strips on its edges. The headsail is collapsed by releasing the jib halyard, and flaking the jib down onto the canvas by using the downhaul to dowse it and the sheets to keep it taught and aft and on the deck, and folded up and velcro''d. The smaller jib goes up thru the hatch and the larger one pulled down same way. Changing out jibs instead of furling permits you to still go to weather: furling gear, it''s hard to do after about 1/3 is furled in. My C-22 sails well and balanced with one slab reef in the main and a storm jib, in winds over 20 knots (lake sailing, no swells). The main goes from 100 ft2 to 70, the headsail from 100 to 33. Trying this is inexpensive, if you are not happy with it, then at least you know. My downhaul was under thirty dollars, installed: line, sheave, and velcro''d canvas. More sailing, less motoring.
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Mainsail reefing dilemma

Jeff, I''m sure that you''re experience is much greater than mine. But in my limited experience sailing a 27'' from San Francisco to Saint Petersburg, delivering a 35'' from Florida to the Netherlands and installing a hundred or so furlers of all sizes and makes, I think you may be a little prejudiced against the whole idea. I am suprised that you haven''t used the old cliche "Roller Fouling". I remember being in 40 to 50 knot winds for 5 days in the Gulf of Papagayo with just a small piece of the genoa out most of the time and I was real glad I didn''t have to crawl around on that pitching foredeck every time the wind let up enough to allow us to carry more sail. And even more glad when I could reef from the cockpit when the wind picked up again.
I know stuff happens, but I repeat, a properly installed and operated roller furling system will make for easier, more pleasant and often safer sailing.
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