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Old 03-18-2010
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Thoughts on roller furling

My husband and I are looking at buying a bigger sailboat and it seems every boat we look at comes with roller furling.

I like the idea of not having to climb forward to mess with the jib, but my husband thinks it is just one more thing to break.

I also posted this on the latitudes and attitudes bulletin board. Everyone seems very positive about roller furling but my husband is still unconvinced, so now I am asking the sailnet community. In your opinion is roller furling good or bad?
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Old 03-18-2010
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I would not own a boat without it. Even the racers use them. They are pretty bullet proof.

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Old 03-18-2010
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Your husband is right...but then again so are you. I'd point out that a properly maintained roller furler is your friend... of course, if you abuse it and don't maintain it, it will probably bite you on the backside.

Be aware that a roller furler isn't a panacea. The reefed roller furling sail tends to be baggier after about 30% has been rolled in and doesn't work as well as a properly cut smaller sail would.

A lot of it depends on the make/model of the furler. Older units tend to be not as robust or well-designed as newer ones. Some brands, notably CDI, are really not as robust or well-suited for boats over 26' LOA IMHO.
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Old 03-18-2010
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Roller furling is a wonderful advancement in sailing, I would never go without after having such a system, unless you are soley racing and want to select a differnent jib for each upwind leg.

Even though I routinely change jibs to have the prpoer size for current conditions, I still found roller furling a pleasure. Two trips out of three, setting and dousing the jib took only seconds, and the forepeak was less crowded at rest. Absolutely the way to go for a cruiser.

While you are at it, look for an underdeck autopilot and a bimini too.
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Old 03-18-2010
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I don't have a roller furling on my boat and I wish I did. I do like being able to change out sails (as I start to get into racing) but for cruising around I think the roller adds a lot of safety and controllability that you don't get with hank on sails. And I will always do WAY more cruising around than racing.
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Headsail furlers are pretty much de riguer these days, and are well engineered. Convenience, safety and extra storage below (fewer sail bags) are big cruising advantages.

As a reefing system, though, I'm not convinced and prefer to have the proper sail in place for the conditions (still do-able with a furler but it does mean having to stow a sail or two below still)
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Old 03-18-2010
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I have a hank on head sail and at times it is a pain. I just recently set up a down haul so I can raise and lower it from the cockpit. I single hand much of the time so going forward is an adventure. A good Jack line set up helps. Someday I will upgrade to RF when the $$$$ is available. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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I consider it standard equipment now. Especially if you have to douse sail in a hurry or in bad conditions, it's sooooo much easier than sending someone forward. Mine at least is not suitable for reefing. The boat sails terribly with the sail partuiall rolled up. I know I'm jinxing myself here, but I've never had a failure and I have the same roller furler that came on the boat when I got it over 15 years ago.
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Old 03-18-2010
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I went a few years before I could afford the furler so I know what the before and after is like on my particular boat. I have a 37' and bought her 15 years ago. I put the furler on about 13 years ago and have not had one issue with it. It simply does what it is intended to do and is a major safety feature that I would not do without! The downside is the expense. I installed it myself (no big deal if you're halfway handy) but the conversion of the sails can add up if you are converting more than one. I converted all three of my headsails and each one was $400 + to convert. But now, I have a choice of sails to use for each season. When furled, there is a loss of efficency, but the pros outweigh the cons.
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Old 03-18-2010
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How does your husband feel about computers? How about power steering on your car? You don't really NEED it, and it's just one more thing that can break, right? Same thing with roller furling, you don't really need it, but pretty much proven itself over the years and is considered standard equipment now.

As to SD's point above about reefing with a furler...you can still change down to a smaller sail if you want, even with the roller. In fact sail changes with a foil along the luff are faster and easier than with hanks.
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