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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Old 11-10-2008
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Furling problems

Tausup,

If I understand your problem correctly the headsail was partially furled and you then encountered a building breeze and made a couple of tacks, then when you pulled hard on the furling line after letting the sheets loose, the sail would not roll up any further. If that is the problem you encountered you may want to experiment some on a less windy day troubleshooting the following theory.

The idea behind easy furling is a relatively tight forestay and a relatively loose halyard. Think about a bakers rolling pin. It wouldn't roll too easily if it wasn't perfectly round. Also think bout the handles. If the handles were pressed too tightly against the roller, it wouldn't roll easily. The furling system works the same way but on a much larger scale. A sagging forestay ruins the straight line the sail needs to travel around when it rolls up. A tight halyard increases the loads on the top and bottom bearings..once again making it harder to roll up. When a sail is partially rolled up, and the wind builds, the same things are happening as the sail that is wrapped around the furler tightens up and acts like a tightened halyard. The forestay sags due to the increase in pressure from the breeze and the whole thing is hard to work.

What you might consider is to go out on a 10 knot day and unfurl the headsail, then loosen the halyard until you see some small wrinkles coming back from the luff. Then tighten up the backstay till the forestay is straight as you will have it when sailing in a bigger breeze, then slack off the halyard some more till the wrinkles come back. Try rolling up the headsail at this point a few turns, then unroll it some and roll it back up. When you are happy with the performance, mark the halyard and backstay settings with a sharpie marker so you can reset them easily. Slacking off on the halyard in a building breeze is the exact opposite of what you want to do to maintain sail trim, but once you roll it up partially, you will be relieving some of the pressure on the furled sail.

The interaction between the headstay tension and the halyard tension is sort of a black art and you may have to experiment some to get it just right.

Hope this helps some,

121Guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 121Guy View Post
Tausup,

If I understand your problem correctly the headsail was partially furled and you then encountered a building breeze and made a couple of tacks, then when you pulled hard on the furling line after letting the sheets loose, the sail would not roll up any further. If that is the problem you encountered you may want to experiment some on a less windy day troubleshooting the following theory.

The idea behind easy furling is a relatively tight forestay and a relatively loose halyard. Think about a bakers rolling pin. It wouldn't roll too easily if it wasn't perfectly round. Also think bout the handles. If the handles were pressed too tightly against the roller, it wouldn't roll easily. The furling system works the same way but on a much larger scale. A sagging forestay ruins the straight line the sail needs to travel around when it rolls up. A tight halyard increases the loads on the top and bottom bearings..once again making it harder to roll up. When a sail is partially rolled up, and the wind builds, the same things are happening as the sail that is wrapped around the furler tightens up and acts like a tightened halyard. The forestay sags due to the increase in pressure from the breeze and the whole thing is hard to work.

What you might consider is to go out on a 10 knot day and unfurl the headsail, then loosen the halyard until you see some small wrinkles coming back from the luff. Then tighten up the backstay till the forestay is straight as you will have it when sailing in a bigger breeze, then slack off the halyard some more till the wrinkles come back. Try rolling up the headsail at this point a few turns, then unroll it some and roll it back up. When you are happy with the performance, mark the halyard and backstay settings with a sharpie marker so you can reset them easily. Slacking off on the halyard in a building breeze is the exact opposite of what you want to do to maintain sail trim, but once you roll it up partially, you will be relieving some of the pressure on the furled sail.

The interaction between the headstay tension and the halyard tension is sort of a black art and you may have to experiment some to get it just right.

Hope this helps some,

121Guy
Excellent post! That may be exactly what the problem is because I noticed yesterday that the headstay appeared to need tightening. I also know that the Halyard is fairly tight.

Now, granted, I know the sail is going to be more difficult to furl in heavier winds due to the load being put on it. This is my first boat with roller furling and though I have no previous experience with it, I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
Tausap...if you are presently in Deltaville getting the work done...suggest Bay Area Rigging as really good and competent folks.

(804) 776-7476
I am back in my homeport of Colonial Beach now but may give them a call. Thanks
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Of course, if the boat has a backstay tensioner, you can often apply backstay tension to tighten up the forestay, help flatten the jib to depower it, reduce the forestay sag, and make the furling the sail easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tausap View Post
Excellent post! That may be exactly what the problem is because I noticed yesterday that the headstay appeared to need tightening. I also know that the Halyard is fairly tight.

Now, granted, I know the sail is going to be more difficult to furl in heavier winds due to the load being put on it. This is my first boat with roller furling and though I have no previous experience with it, I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tausap View Post
... I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
In that much breeze the luffing sail will be very difficult to furl directly. That's a lot of load on the sail and the furling gear. Furling the sail while sailing downwind with the jib in the lee of the main as I suggested earlier makes life easier on you, the sail, and the gear.

While using a winch here will obviously help, it's too easy to keep on grinding without noticing some other problem and then doing some damage.
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Guys, this is a great thread. I had some problems with my furling in heavy airs (I have a Profurl and a medium-weight Yankee-cut jib on my cutter, and while I was able to solve them by blanketing the jib, the "physics" of the operation are now clear to me.

Thanks for the in-depth discussion.
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I always turn downwind to furl the headsail on my boat. I can easily control the amount of wind pressure on the headsail by heading up or down as needed. That way I get a nice tight wrap around the furler without wrapping it so tight that I run out of line.

I would agree that Brett's problems were likely due to a loose backstay allowing the forestay to go slack when heading downwind. It's very hard to roll a foil with a loop in it.
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Furling Problems

Hi Tausup,

I may have assumed incorrectly that you have a mechanical backstay adjuster and now see that you sail a Morgan with a relatively large headsail.

If my first assumption was not accurate, but my second one is, perhaps you may want to try to the following. If you are not familiar with tuning the rig both at the dock and then further underway, you may need some professional help as was already posted.

The Profurl is arguably the most durable furling system around and is one of the only ones I know of that actually recommends using a winch when necessary. On a boat your size, with a large heavy headsail in the winds you describe, you may have to resort to a winch but before that, I'd make sure the mast is tuned right for the type of sailing you do. If the backstay is fixed, you are going to want to overtighten it some so as to take up any slack in the headstay and leave it that way. If that isn't possible, perhaps you will need to take up some adjustment in the forestay and then play with the halyard as previously discussed. Mast tune is another one of the black arts so you may want to get some help so that it is set up just right.

A good starting point is to grab the forestay at the dock and shake it. If you can move it back and forth with moderate force, it may well be too loose. I'd guess that when hard on the wind, with the sail fully out, you should have less than a foot or so of sag right in the middle of the furler. As far as the furler is concerned remember a tighter forestay and looser halyard is always better!

Good luck!

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Another problem, no one yet mentioned, concerns unfurling.

If you just release the furl line, pull the sheet, it'll unfurl, but the furling line won't be wrapped on the furler evenly and may even overlap the line making furling impossible.

Always unfurl with some tension on the furler line.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whroeder View Post
Another problem, no one yet mentioned, concerns unfurling.

If you just release the furl line, pull the sheet, it'll unfurl, but the furling line won't be wrapped on the furler evenly and may even overlap the line making furling impossible.

Always unfurl with some tension on the furler line.
True. indeed, but was addressed in Post #2
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