Re: Roller furling is so over rated :D
I think some concepts are getting combined for the purposes of discussion which are not inextricably linked.
Boltropes/luff tapes are an example. They're a separate issue, or at least separable, from roller reefing. By which I mean: Roller sails can have slides or slugs; non roller sails can have headfoils and boltropes.
I find it hard to comprehend that posters are claiming that boltrope sails into headfoils are easier to change than sails hanked to a stay.
This is true, I would venture, only at the dock, in a calm, or on a boat with multiple skilled practitioners available for each and every change.
I can only assume that this opinion is formed or informed by people who have no experience of trying to change such sails alone, offshore, in bad conditions.
There are ways of making it safe to change a hanked sail in such circumstances: heaving to (or running off and blanketing), downhaul lines, ties cowhitched to the lifelines, taking the halyard forward with you, etc etc. It's not elegant or racy, and it's probably hard to imagine for people who haven't been on boats where these routines are well rehearsed, but it's eminently doable and people are doing it every day.
In contrast, I reckon it really takes three people to change a big headsail with a boltrope on a 40' sailing yacht safely, in a breeze at sea.
The crux of the matter is that the entire leading edge of a hanked sail remains captive until after the sail is bagged.
A boltrope sail, once the luff escapes, is just not going to be possible to keep on the foredeck in big seas on your own*, even hove to, even blanketing. At some point, on some occasions, some part of it is going to blow overboard -- and then you're in trouble. After all, trawl nets are measured in inches per thread, not threads per inch.
OTOH, if the entire body of a hanked sail goes overboard, it's still attached by one long edge to the stay, so it can't fill like a drogue, and only a sausage tail can go over the side. Snug up and cleat off the sheet, slacken the halyard, go to the bow with the snapshackle end, and clip it to the top lifeline just ahead of where the 'sausage' first crosses over the lifelines. Now work your way aft, muscling the sail onboard, sliding the snapshackle under the sail aft as far as it will go each time, then using the halyard like a tire lever. Generally the halyard will stop the sail rejoining the tide, but if it's really nasty, use a few sail ties to strap the sausage to the bottom lifeline (up off the deck) as you go, even if you plan (as you should) to put the sail into a bag.
You need only go about one third of the foot length aft, then you can go to the sheet, wait for the right moment on a big wave, and use the sheet to flip the clew and the remaining corner of the sail onboard.
Replace the lifelines regularly if you make a habit of doing this!
This method keeps you inboard, and with your bum on or near the deck, where it belongs when working alone.
*UNLESS you modify the sail and the deck gear: eg fit eyelets behind the luff at regular intervals and keep a permanent downhaul line reeved from head to tack, passing alternately from one side of the sail through each eyelet to the other side all the way down. That line can be unclipped from the tack and run through a bullseye fairlead on the foredeck just aft of the tack fitting, with a cam cleat, for dropping the sail.
Take the tail of the halyard forrard with you when you go to drop it to control the speed. You probably can't do this from the cockpit because you're likely to need to do more stacking of the sail than is necessary with hanks.
Even then, many foils have their entry too low to the deck for this to be viable unless the sail is really pliable.
Incidentally, this is a better way of rigging a downhaul even for a hanked sail, IMO, than the usual 'through the hanks' method, except in this case it pays to have the option to run the tail to a cleat in the cockpit AS WELL as be optionally able to work it from the foredeck.
Alternatively I guess you could make a 'net' or skeletal sail to hoist outside a boltrope equipped sail before dropping it. Needn't be tall, or even triangular (could be quadrilateral with a batten along the top) just effectively to extend the fencing effect of the lifelines to maybe 10' off the deck - but frankly what a palaver.
Those who dismiss hanked sails as being akin to Amish transportation options are, I think, doing themselves and their intellect no favours.
My preference for an optimum medium-sized rig for safe handling, short- and single- handed, would have at least some of the following (presupposing a cutter rig):
Halyard winches at the mast (makes it easy to work the halyards from the foredeck as described, for one thing... but again, in more general terms, it's an instance where what is most convenient is not necessarily the same as what is best.)
The winches should be located so the tails can be led forward after wrapping round the winch. If they're also to be worked from aft, use a snatchblock at deck level.
A reliable, strong furler on the forestay, with a very torsionally stiff headfoil with twin grooves of substantial size, opposite each other.
Headsails fitted with metal slugs (ideally, titanium, polished, hard-anodised, then impregnated with teflon!). Definitely no boltropes/luff tapes for this kid.
Apart from anything else, they're too fragile, the sail is useless when they start to disintegrate, and they're hard to fix without running home to mum.
-- I find slides (ie female slugs) somewhat bulky, and too fiddly to fit onto the foil track. What's more, the extrusions to match are harder to find, and easier to damage. Magazine systems (which fit the slides automatically) seem to me a bit 'prima donna' in their performance -- and I wonder if they're perhaps a bit damage prone (or prone to damage other parts of the boat, sailbags etc while stowing or humping) for offshore long-term voyaging. However I've had limited exposure to them so it's largely speculation.
I would definitely stay with hanks for the inner forestay sails. Ideally the storm staysail would live permanently fitted to the stay, in a flush-deck locker at the foot of the stay, although draining such lockers is admittedly difficult. If this could be satisfactorarily arranged, the stay would keep going right down to the locker floor, at least in my dreams.
Such a sail could be shackled to the stay, which is my idea of salty, for a stormsail. I've never personally heard a row of hanks failing like machine gun fire, but hearing of it, from the mouths of people who have done, is sobering.
The best hanks ever crafted, to my way of thinking, are Wichard single-handed, lash on style. They work best on a rod stay or Dyform (stainless hanks and shackles are a bit unfriendly to wire).
If generously sized, these will not fail, and will outlast many sails.
On balance, even in my dreams, I'd probably opt to forgo the shackles and stow the stormsail in a locker with a hatch which could be tightly sealed, but preferably handy to the stay.
Last edited by Andrew Troup; 07-20-2012 at 04:46 AM.