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  #1  
Old 09-14-2009
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Inmast Furling Debate

I have long been negative on inmast furlers. The thought of not being able to drop my main in a blow (they can get hung), and the lack of power and sail shape, leave the more traditionalists of us frustrated. And it has long been a standing rule of thumb that many offshore delivery captains consider them unsafe for bluewater work - for the very reasons mentioned above.

However, I must admit, my attitude is starting to change.

Let me start off by saying that if I was a serious racer, I would not consider it. I will also say that I find it ironic at best that you have to special order a traditional mast/main from most of the production builders now at extra cost OVER the inmast! What a crock!! But I am increasingly becoming more satisfied with what I feel is a huge trade off for this sailor.

Understand that I have kids and my wife often has to put her attention below. We are not new to being offshore and are true believers that a boat has to be able to be singlehanded. However, when dropping in a reef (ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT), we believe that we should always start the motor and a person must be watching from the cockpit. That is just our rules.

Going forward in a blow (or the seas that preceed a blow) are what I believe to be the most dangerous thing a sailor does that is typical SOP. With the sea spray making the deck slippery and the rolling deck, it requires considerable concentration and agility. Not to mention that in a lightning storm (very common in SW Florida), no one gets excited about hanging on the mast and boom while securing the main.

A inmast (and inboom) takes most of that away. We still start the engine (old habits), but that is more for safety then because we absolutely have to be dead into the wind (which you do not in an inmast). In fact, I can drop in a reef with no help from below and never have to leave the safety of the cockpit.

For someone that basically sails by himself (and same for my wife who is 5'10 and 120 lbs), that ease and safety is worth something. We have never had it hang up (and there is a differnece in how to reef it which I feeel explains why many people have a problem). So I ask those out there with first hand knowedge (and without, that is fine) what are your thoughts?

- CD
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Old 09-14-2009
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I basically singlehand also, and one of the toughest jobs on the cat is reefing the main. It has a quick motion on the roof. I have considered in boom, and in mast reefing, but still can't get over the fear of it hanging up.

Then again I use to feel the same way about headsails, and would gladly go to the bow in 50+ wind to change a headsail. Not any more no hanks for me.

I use to feel badly about multis, and thought they were your death. Well here I am sailing a multi, and loving it. Change sometimes is hard to accept. Especially when you are leaving something you are familiar with, and understand.

So, what's stopping me from changing my mainsail? Money, and when it comes my way again I will have some sort of furling on the main too!.......i2f
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Old 09-14-2009
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SD -

I have newly started sailing a Baba 40 that has in-mast furling and was hoping that you could expand on the comment that "there is a differnece in how to reef it which I feeel explains why many people have a problem." I have owned a Pearson Ensign for 10 years (still do) and the Baba is a big step up for me with much to learn. The in-mast furling actually drives me a bit nuts as it frequently messed up on the way in and proceeds to "bind" - is that what you mean by "hung up." I am sure that I am doing something wrong, just haven't quite figured out what yet.
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Old 09-14-2009
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i have a profurl in boom system with a fully battened main. it makes single handing easier & i believe safer. when you shorten sail the sail is lowered making it a better system than in mast furling.
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Old 09-14-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewMac View Post
SD -

I have newly started sailing a Baba 40 that has in-mast furling and was hoping that you could expand on the comment that "there is a differnece in how to reef it which I feeel explains why many people have a problem." I have owned a Pearson Ensign for 10 years (still do) and the Baba is a big step up for me with much to learn. The in-mast furling actually drives me a bit nuts as it frequently messed up on the way in and proceeds to "bind" - is that what you mean by "hung up." I am sure that I am doing something wrong, just haven't quite figured out what yet.
I am assuming that you mean CD, not SD? I am the good looking one. Even with the insult, I will help (snicker).

Ok, how do you drop a traditional main (or put in a reef)? You point into the wind (as close to dead into the wind as possible). You get your mainsheets as tight as possible. You pull down on the boom vang as tight as possible. The point of all of this is to keep the boom from swinging all over the place and get it horizontal so that the falling main flakes easily across the boom. Etc, etc.

Now, take those exact same principles on inmast and it will hang up - if not the first time, eventually. It is very differrent.

This is hard to explain with words, but here goes:

When looking at your mast from the side, you will see that the clew does NOT go in horizontally from the boom. It goes up at (and I am making htis number up) a 15 degree angle. THe sail is designed this way. So what happens is that us old traditional sailors follow the typical methods for dropping in a reef or dropping the main (sheeting down on the boom/mainsheets/vang), and that forces the clew to travel relatively horizontally into the mast. So the foot ends up bunching up and not coiling around the drum properly (jamming it in the track) and the leech crinkles as it goes in (again, causing it to jam). Does that make sense? So doing this method when reefing or dropping the main (which is the right method for us traditional sailors) is wrong and it will jam up a lot.

When reefing the main on an inmast, you have to allow the mainsheet and the vang the slack to allow the clew to travel "upwards" into the track. The easiest way to accomplish this is to not be quite dead into the wind and to keep some tension on the sail when reefing, but I have found it is not always necessary. Paramount is making sure that you do not have too much downward pull on the sail while traveling into the track - you must give it the freedom it needs to travel upwards.

What may have happened on your Baba, assuming it of course has an old sail, is that the sail has stretched through missues (or just through age) and is not reefing properly anymore. At least try what I am talking about and you may find you love your inmast. You just cannot treat it like a traditional main.

Hope that helps.

- CD, Not SD (the good looking and smart one!!!)
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Old 09-14-2009
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Originally Posted by captbillc View Post
i have a profurl in boom system with a fully battened main. it makes single handing easier & i believe safer. when you shorten sail the sail is lowered making it a better system than in mast furling.
I agree - cost not being an object, I would definitely go with Inboom. However, the cost can be substantial. Yet, inboom seems to have about all the positives with none of the negatives.

- CD
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Old 09-14-2009
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But how do you deal with it when/if it does jam?

Last week my jib furler decided to lock up partly deployed in 20+ knot winds. A small circlip came loose. I was able to unwind a few turns and pull it down the foil without too much fuss. Just wet, as the foredeck of a cat is a pretty stable place.

I find a main with lazy jacks pretty simple and to be a 1-person job to reef or drop. No harder than rolling up the jib in a big wind, really. It is FAR easier to drop or reef the main in 30 knots than to roll up the jib.Sail covers can always wait until later.
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CD - lol - apologies for the gaff! Huge help - thank you. Going on a five day trip starting next week - will definitely practice and let you know how it goes.
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Old 09-14-2009
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My dad added boom furling to his DownEaster 38 during his circumnavigation. I asked him why he went with boom furling instead of in-mast furling.

He said: "Where would you rather have a problem: 5 feet above the deck or 40 feet above the deck?"

I thought that was a good point.

David
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dj,

You're dad makes an excellent point. Obviously he has some miles under his keel. ........i2f
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