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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I always fold my sails (never stuff), and I usually do that at the dock. But when I make a headsail change underway (or at anchor) it can be quite a challenge to fold it on deck of my little ~30 ft boat.

Note: I have a harken roller reefing furler which should/could limit the amount of sail changes I'd have to make. In practice I rarely choose to sail with a furled headsail, I just don't like the shape. My preference is to swap out the headsail when conditions call for it, and if it safe to do so I will.

Here is what I do:
- drop the sail
- detach and secure the jib halyard. leave the tack attached.
- stretch the foot of the sail along the leeward side of the cabin top
- proceed to to wrestle the sail into some semblance of a flaked, folded sail.
- put into its sail bag.
- have a shot of rum because I'm exasperated at this point!
- hoist the new sail.

I think this would work just fine on a really calm flat day. but anything else tends to have the sail flapping and dancing all over with me playing a game of "twister" trying to keep everything in place as I fold it.



Any better techniques?
 

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Are you solo when you do this? Where is your Jib Halyard led? mast or cockpit?

Have you tried leaving the head attached and folding as you or someone else lowers it? keep a knee on the fold. Keep the foot tight like you normally do, and the tack attached.
 

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Stuff them. You'll avoid nasty creases and the sails will probably last longer.

Sometimes it pays not to be anal-retentive.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Are you solo when you do this? Where is your Jib Halyard led? mast or cockpit?
forgot to mention: typically solo. Jib halyard at the mast.

Have you tried leaving the head attached and folding as you or someone else lowers it? keep a knee on the fold. Keep the foot tight like you normally do, and the tack attached.
I haven't tried this, but I will ... Similar to flaking the main right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Stuff them. You'll avoid nasty creases and the sails will probably last longer.
Its a good point. I've always heard that folding is better for the sails but perhaps this is not true?

But it is true that a stuffed sail takes up *a lot* more of storage space than folded. and that is an issue on my boat.

Sometimes it pays not to be anal-retentive.
probably so ... :)
 

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forgot to mention: typically solo. Jib halyard at the mast.

So that should make it easier for you to lower as you fold. Wrap bitter end around the bow cleat or something so it doesn't go up the mast if you let it go.



I haven't tried this, but I will ... Similar to flaking the main right?
Exactly. I've done this on deck on a mooring, and at a dock..never underway though.
 

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I pull the Lee jib sheet tight, lower and haul to deck, slip a couple bungees around it to the toe rail. call it good till yer still. Then I flake and fold it on itself till only the head and clew are on top, then into a jib bag on the forestay.
Right? I dunno; but it works for me ;)
 

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The smart-alecky answer is “fold it back and forth”. If you have two people, the one nearest the mast holds the halyard and controls the drop. If you are single handing, pull the halyard to the bow and control the drop from there. There real secret is to have a “sausage bag” which is a long bag (equal or longer than your headsail’s foot) that has a zipper running along the top. Put the open bag on the deck (they have ties to secure them to the lifelines) then drop and fold into the bag. The folds don’t have to be perfect to get everything into the bag. Once done, zip it up and drag it down a hatch – you can always refold in the saloon later if you want to. When I was a mast guy, we used to peal headsails right into the bag.

Creases are the enemy of sails. If you fold, you will have one set of creases. If you stuff, you will have an infinite number.
 

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bob-
Two things can make it easier. Some mesh on the forward lifelines, so the sail can't blow under them and overboard. And a long enough jib halyard so that you can go forward and ease the jib down, without dropping it all at once.

If you sheet in the leeward jib sheet and then go forward to the jib clew, you can start to drop the jib a couple of feet at a time, laying in each fold at it comes down. Drop two feet, fold, move forward a bit, drop two feet, fold the other way, etc. and if you've got a rhythm it can go very quickly. I find it is neater and faster to flake a main or job when you do it as it is coming down, instead of after the fact.

Yes, sometimes you run out of hands, and yes, your jib halyard has to be long enough to allow that. But it can be done neatly and quickly that way.
 

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Stuffing is definitely not the route to go if longevity is your goal. The puckers that occur when you stuff a sail into a bag will likely cause weak spots in the sail AND stretch the threads in those spots so the sail overall loses its shape faster. It may look OK overall as far as being in one piece, but it may perform as well as as burlap bags stretched together. You've seen the National Geographic pictures of Dhows or outriggers with multicolored rice bags sewn together? Your sail will be like theirs, only all one color and with fewer loose threads.
For folding underway, I tend to use the windward side as a base so that the wind blows the unfolded sail away from me and flatter. Folding on the leeward side blows the sail towards you and piles it up so it would be harder to get flat folds. It might also be easier to hoist the new sail before you fold the old one if it helps hold the boat steadier. Having the new sail up might also help to hold the old sail on deck better, though sailing solo, you may have enough going on already without the added excitement of the new jib pulling. Getting the luff edge to fold nicely when you're solo at the leech edge (or vice-versa) isn't easy, so securing the old jib to the lower lifelines with sailties might be an interim solution too. This keeps the sail available if you need to switch back to it, doesn't scrunch it up too much, and allows waves to wash under it (if any come aboard) so the weight of the water isn't held on deck. You could also try finding crew. The weekend of the 21st is Summer Solstice - a great excuse to invite someone to sail with you!
 

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Something you can try is to "roll" the sail. Start at the top of the sail, then roll it up along the luff. Then fold it at your leisure.
 
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I pull the Lee jib sheet tight, lower and haul to deck, slip a couple bungees around it to the toe rail. call it good till yer still. Then I flake and fold it on itself till only the head and clew are on top, then into a jib bag on the forestay.
I do something similar. My bulwark and toe rail aren't amenable to the exact technique. I use sail ties to lash the sail to the lower life line which also gives room for seas to wash under the sail.

I fold the sail at anchor, at the dock, or on a truly windlass day (right before dumping fuel jugs into the boat tank).

My sail inventory is close to $10,000. I stuff my spinnakers and fold the rest.
Agreed.
 

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Several good responses...
* fold a dacron sail (yes)
* leave the sheets, and the tack attached and fold as you lower (yes)
* have webbing on the forward lifelines to keep the kit from going overboard (big yes)
* if solo use a TILLER/AUTO PILOT (my own addition).

I'll add that I roll my mainsail (boltrope)... and it's also a bear under way (I actually usually roll it while motoring back though). I can't imagine doing it in any kind of swell (I'm on a small inland lake). Strike that, I've had to roll it dealing with some really inconsiderate stinkpotters buzzing me. I have an idea what it'd be like in more open water.

I cannot fathom rolling the genoa on the water... in fact I've not been able to figure out how to do it at the dock... I have to go up to open space on land to do it.

Granted my sails are for performance, and I'd have opted for sail slugs for the main, and dacron foldable for the genoa if I was going solo off shore.
 

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I also frequently change sails on my furler (mostly between a 135% genoa and a 100% working jib). I haven't figured out the perfect way to do it all on the foredeck.

It is harder than with hank-on sails because there isn't a natural flaking point that the hanks give you. Here is roughly what I try to do:
* sheet in fairly tight
* drop sail slowly. I moved my jib halyard to the mast and can lead it forward (it has a long tail) under the sail to help me drop it.
* make appropriate sized flakes at the luff while it comes down
* once down try to tie it off near the luff with a sail tie.
* Go to the leech and try to roughly match the flakes.
* Fold/roll it up, tie with another sail tie, and put it into the bag

Hoisting the other sail is a lot easier. I did add a prefeeder which helps a whole lot.

Next time I'm at a dock, especially if someone is around to help, I'll reflake it.

My headsails are both dacron and I think that this would be even harder with a laminate sail. I race on a number of boats where we use laminate headsails, but never singlehanded. I have a laminate main and like it a lot, but would need to think carefully about a laminate headsail due to handling reasons.

I generally do sail changes at the dock based on the current and expected weather forecast.
 

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I hate folding sails on the boat. While we're bitching folding them on the dock is a PITA when solo too. Actually my "cruising" sails fold pretty easily on the boat but my 105% race sail has battens and my ~150%s get stuck between the shroud and the lifelines and are really difficult to get a nice fold through there, even without wind and waves. Not much to add, just reiterate leave the corners attached and lower to the deck, folding as you go, and reiterate the frustration.

How do the big boys do it in the southern seas at night? Boggles my mind...
 

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Alex W....You mentioned adding a prefeeder to help hoist the sail. Any details on that since I singlehand and no one is there at the foil to feed the sail into the slot??
 

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The prefeeder lives lower on the foil than the existing feeder (the one at the bottom of the foil's slot). It helps to straighten out the luff cord before it runs into the foil.

You run the luff cord into the prefeeder, then into the feeder. You can now work primarily from the mast winch (or cockpit) to raise the sail.

I'm using the Harken:
Harken



I have a Hood furler and it isn't a perfect match, but it is pretty good.

My friend's Selden Furlex has a prefeeder built into the drum (it is on a retractable cord) which is a nice touch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm using the Harken:
Harken



I have a Hood furler and it isn't a perfect match, but it is pretty good.

My friend's Selden Furlex has a prefeeder built into the drum (it is on a retractable cord) which is a nice touch.
Very nice. My prefeeder is old school but it gets the job done:
 
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