silly question about roller furling
I'm new to sailing... I've only been out once, and it was an 8 day ASA 101/103 class. Our boat was an IP440 with roller furling genoa and main (mast furler). I was thinking back on it and thinking about some of the reefing stuff I've read in other threads today, and I guess my brain stopped working.
What keeps the sails rolled up? I know to furl them, you pull on a rope that turns the furler and it rolls it up, but I don't remember ever cleating that line off or seeing the captain cleat it. What prevents the sail from unrolling if the wind picks up or something? This seems especially problematic for the genoa. The captain isntructed us to keep the genoa sheets reasonably tight when the sail is furled so that they can be used as something to grab onto in an emergency if you're falling overboard... the tension should unroll the sail unless something is keepng the furler in place. As far as reefing, there must be a way to get the furlers for both sails to stop at a given position so you can trim the sail with the sheet/outhaul and it won't just continue to unfurl.
What am I missing or forgetting?
Yup. Pull the furling line off the drum to roll the genoa up and cleat the line. Uncleat the furling line and pull on the genoa sheet to unfurl (the furling line is then pulled back onto the drum). Keep a little tension on the furling line when letting sail out to keep the line from getting into a mess on the drum.
When at anchor or mooring I also put a tie around the rolled genoa to keep it from unfurling in a storm.
I think the only thing you missed would have been to notice how and where the furling line had been cleated or tied off, because it must have been, or else the jib (especially, but the main too) would slowly unroll.
The same is true for partial furling (when a boat is so equipped), which serves as a "reef".
Funny thing - just this past weekend, I took a 2-day ASA Sailing 101 class (I'll be doing the coastal cruising portion this coming weekend).
We were on a Jeanneau 33, which also has jib and main mast furlers.
We were out on the Rappahannock River, right at the mouth where it enters the Chesapeake Bay. Those in the area will know that this weekend was very windy, with winds at about 20 knots, gusting to 25 and sometimes 30.
We let out the sails about 1/2 way and had at it. Some pretty "energetic" sailing. Anyhow, after sailing for a few hours on Saturday, we were on our way back in, and we stowed the sails and fired up the engine to motor back into the inlet and return to the marina. As we were heading into the channel, the wind was pretty much coming across the beam. The main mast furler started slipping and the main sail started coming unfurled. Of course, as it came out, it presented more sail area, which gave the wind more to push on, so it started coming unfurled faster and faster. Not good, when the wind was gusting up to nearly 30 knots and we were trying to keep the vessel straight in the channel.
So we had a little excitement. Turns out the lines on the furler were not as snug as they should have been and the lock had slipped. We quickly cranked the sail back in and the instructor jumped up on the deck and locked the furler.
Just a little excitement at the end of an exciting day of sailing.
Others have said it
To furl (roll up) the sail, you pull on the furling line which unwinds from the drum, which turns the drum to wind the sail up. To keep it from releasing and letting the sail back out, you cleat it and then coil the tailend.
When you want to release the sail, you uncleat the furling line, uncoil the tailing end and pull on the leeward genoa/jib sheet to unfurl the sail.
When I furl my sail, I roll it up so that the sheets wrap several times around the sail. This keeps the clew from catching wind and potentially unrolling the sail if I forgot to cleat the furling line. My sheets are loose and the untensioned tail ends wrapped around a cleat or winch drum to keep them from flailing all over the place in a storm.
If I am away from the boat for a long time or there is a good storm coming, I'll tie the clew snug around the furled sail with sail tie or wrap the spin halyard around the length of the furled sail (around the forestay) to keep it from unraveling just in cast the furling line cleat or line itslef fails.
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