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  #1  
Old 10-08-2006
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Thoughts and Q on Mainsail Systems for Shorthanded Boats

Hi,

Can I get your suggestion /experiences on mailsail systems for shorthanded/singlehanded boats ? Lazy Jacks v. in mast furling etc.

Here's mine...

I've been using in mast furling systems for 6 years yet never felt really at ease with them because several times the mainsail got stuck, always during furling in.

Once I returned to the marina with the hoisted mainsail somehow stuffed under the boom. The repair guys told me that certain pins inside the mast have to be readjusted every year due to not-so-good design or I should expect such serious jammings.

Now I follow their advice and cruise with only minor jammings, usually close to the mast head. In such cases my best solution is to pull in hard on the vang and traveler while easing the topping lift. The best way to avoid these minors is to keep tension on the outhaul while furling-in.

So far I am OK for local and coastal sailing but what to do for longer cruises ? Having a serious jamming problem when you are 20 miles to the marina is one issue, 250 miles a totally different issue.

I would say the vertical (slab reefing) systems are better especially with lazy jack but then I would not feel comfortable leaving the cockpit at night time to reef in while being the only person in the cockpit.

I am curious what shorthanded or single handed boats, skippers do with non-furl systems, especially at night ?

Can we assume jamming risk increases as mainsail area gets bigger ? Large sail means more sail area and more loads. If so, smaller boats get a bonus !

This issue may also be related with the sailcloth too...

Thanks !!

Note : I should also note that my current 2002 Beneteau gives me hell occasionally while my previous boat 1989 Oyster (cutter rigged ketch) created much less problems despite the huge age difference even tough I would push my old boat to her limits in tough weather since I felt Beneteau has a larger mainsail than the cutter ketch and this increases risk but I think higher quality furlings do a better job, cause less jamming.
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Old 10-08-2006
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I have a Doyle StackPack, which has integrated lazy jacks. I have my halyard pre marked for drop points for reefing. At this time I don't have the reefing lines run back to the cockpit, so I drop the main to the premarked point, go forward, hook it on the ramshead, then tighten the reefing line. With the StackPack, the excess sail is held in place by the cover, so it's a quick and easy task to snug it down. When finances permit, I'll run the reefing lines back to the cockpit, probably, but so far this has worked pretty well for me.

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Old 10-08-2006
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I have used and strongly prefer two line reefing systems on boats as large as 45 feet and strongly prefer a two line system (Main halyard, tack and clew run back to the cockpit). If the halyard is marked, reefing from the cockpit is quick and easy. One real advantage of a two line system is the ability to independently adjust luff and foot tension which can allow you better sail shape control in changeable conditions in which you don't necessaily want to release a reef, but need more drive.

I am not a fan of lazy jacks. I tend to flake my sails pretty carefully, which greatly extend the life of the sail but which is a real pain to do with a lazy jack system. I basically like the Dutchman system on larger boats where you are handling larger sails than are convenient to manhandle.

Some of the 'Stackpack' type systems work well if you don't care about flacking your sails.

Jeff

Last edited by Jeff_H; 10-08-2006 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 10-09-2006
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Hi

Just a couple of suggestions - in which I agree strongly with John and Jeff about reefing, but I do think the lazy jack system is the way to go - mechanically simple. However, it may take some experimentation to get the position of the lines just right. The solutions are to try to avoid having battens catch on the aft lines when the sail is raised, also to position the lines so the sail is caught smoothly when coming doen, without any sections falling outside.

I use integrated lazy jack lines with a sail cover, where the lines are simply tied off onto a pole running the full length of the cover. Intiially, the lines were not quite in the right places and the sail tended to fall out, but this was rectified by doubling the lines and changing the configuration - now works perfectly and the sail flakes itself.

Hope this helps

Alan
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Old 10-11-2006
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I have the Dutchman system on my boat. It's very simple and easy to use. Can drop the sail from the cockpit and have it flake neatly. I do go forward then to tie on the sail ties.
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Old 10-11-2006
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I have lazy jacks and single line reefing on one boat and mainsail in mast furling on another. I used to think that single line reefing and lazy jacks were the answer until I got a furling main. Many will say a furling main jams etc. Sure it will if not properly used and maintained. It is surprising the amount of people out there with furling mains that don't know the proper procedure for furling and unfurling. I have had the furling main for two seasons south now and wouldn't trade it for anything. I think the majority of nay sayers on furling mains are the same people that bad mouthed furling headsails when they first came out. Nowadays show me a cruising boat that doesn't have a furling jib.
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Old 10-11-2006
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I've got to agree with Jeff. Simple reefing works nicely as long as you've done it before you start to say "Gee, I should have reefed...". Less stuff to go wrong and jam in places where you can't reach it.

When it comes to stowing the main completely, I was taught that if you really want to look "proper" you can slowly release the halyard with one had, while moving forward and flaking the sail on the boom at the same time. Drop it two feet, flake the fold, drop the next two feet, etc. It only comes down once--and never drops on deck. Both neater and faster than dropping the main and then flaking it, once you get the hang of it.
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Old 10-11-2006
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I am not a fan of stack packs. I would think they catch a lot of wind and would be a problem offshore. I don't use any system. I don't mind going forward to reef or drop the Main.
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Old 10-11-2006
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I had lazy jacks and have had the dutchman the past two years. With the dutchman the sail flakes on the main and I use the two line reefing system. Never have to go forward untill I need to shake out the reef.
With the dutchman I don't need to tack the sail down to the boom. I believe that is one of the selling points, the inventor was a single handed sailor and had a problem with going forward alone.

John
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Old 10-11-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
When it comes to stowing the main completely, I was taught that if you really want to look "proper" you can slowly release the halyard with one had, while moving forward and flaking the sail on the boom at the same time. Drop it two feet, flake the fold, drop the next two feet, etc. It only comes down once--and never drops on deck.
I'd say this method might be easier said than done when bouncing around in chop in 20 knots of breeze, especially shorthanded.

Not a fan of lazy jacks myself, we do use them to douse the mainsail so that the dropped sail does not scratch our lexan dodger windows. At any other time, they are stored off the mast and boom on shock cords. This way they do not chafe the main while sailing, and the sail cover fits without modification.

I can see the attraction of the "Dutchman" system but have heard horror stories (which you'll eventually hear of any system) of the lines getting somehow knotted or otherwise jamming in the grommets half way down. Granted, it was probably due to improper setup in the first place.

Last edited by Faster; 10-11-2006 at 05:02 PM.
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