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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am trying to find a thread to deal with the following:

I have in mast furling that has worked well but last Sunday the main refused to unroll after only a few feet. I notice that the sail bulges out next to the portion under tension being rolled out, about 7 feet up from the boom for a stretch of about 10 feet. The winch simply cannot pull it out - and it should be pulled out by hand, ideally. The mast is slightly curved, but not too much to accommodate the furling system and has not malfunctioned before. I suspect the sail may have been reefed the last time with insufficient tension, but that is just speculation.

Can anyone suggest how I may unfurl the sail and/or how much stress I should tension I should ever apply?

BTW I cannot quote the brand of furling gear (forgot to note when on board) but it is for a Catalina 36 MkII of 2001.

Many thanks for any suggestions...

Flandria
 

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Master Mariner
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You will need to get the boom height/angle so the pull on the sail is equal on leech and foot, first. Then I would roll the sail out very slowly a few inches at a time. Each time you come out, holding the out haul tight, furl the sail as much as you can, like rolling a chart tightly. Keep doing this until you have tightened the sail to the point it will roll all the way out. I believe your sail may be developing a belly and you will either need a new one or a sailmaker to flatten it out a bit. We are just trying to get one more year with a pretty worn out main, so I understand exactly what you are describing. It is just something you will have to be very careful about, pulling it out a little bit at a time (we actually use the wind to help, sometimes), but it should be manageable once you get the hang of it, for the rest of the season, at least.
 
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Tartan 34C
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Loosen the vang if you have one. A winch shouldn't be needed to unfurl as you stated. See what you can discover by pulling on the clew by hand. It's often a WTF moment. And then it the geometry of it all will make sense. Or...you have a bellied out sail as mentioned.
 

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Try working the inhaul and outhaul lines alternately.

I had this happen last month.
 

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I have exactly the same problem on occasion (same boat). I fix it by alternating between inhaul and outhaul as Jackdale suggested. I believe it is caused by multiple issues - one being that it wasn't furled tightly. I also have a lot of issues getting the sail car to come out the last 3 or 4 ft on the boom. Often times I give up and move the car by hand after slacking the outhaul. I believe that the car and the way it is rigged causes issues because it can pull hard on the leech and very little on the foot. I might be completely off on that though - it's my best guess. I have been tempted to add some sort of line that pulls the car straight horizontally to the boom end.
A belly in the sail is another cause as already mentioned. I am also thinking that tensioning the main sheet to prevent the boom swinging back and forth while the sail is furled and trying to unfurl in that configuration could contribute to the problem (another guess on my part)
 

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Warm Weather Sailor
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When all the above advice fails get in your bosuns chair and go up to where it's jammed. Pull and tug until your fingers are bloody, use a plastic spatula to help get the sail out. You will have to do it an inch at a time, going up the mast as it slowly unfurls. In all probability you will have to go nearly to the top before the sail is free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the advice, folks... including that last one with the bloody fingers, since I was contemplating that fate already. Since there is a slight curve in the mast (not so much as to prevent the furling rod from turning, of course), I think it would not hurt to let the rod stand up straight for a change.

While the sail is now 13 years old, it has not seen a lot of service up here in Georgian Bay, but when I will take it in to the sailmaster I wouldn't be surprised to get a "belly" diagnosis.

I will try to get things figured out on Saturday and will post an update on how things turn out (could be a couple of weeks, though, since we hope to be out there, without internet).

Again, thanks to all, and additional advice is still welcome!
 

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Catalina 400 MKII
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Check out that mast bend. I have a Charleston and it is very specific not to bend the mast. I believe that Sheldon has the same instruction. That might be a significant issue for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, Scotty... I am allowed a small degree of bend in the mast which has not been an issue thus far, but I may just straighten out the mast in hopes it will diminish tension and facilitate turning the furling rod...
 

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I've had similar issues on an in-mast C36, and it does seem to get worse as the sail ages and gets a little baggy. If you've got a loose furl and it's doubled over on itself inside the mast, that's one thing - and once you can get it out, and refurl it tightly, you should be ok. Maybe that's what's going on in your case.

The other possibility is that the way the outhaul is set up there is far more downward pull than aftward pull from the clew to the outhaul car when the car is at the forward end of the track. You can pull as hard as you want but very little of the force is actually working to unfurl the sail; it's all pulling downward on the leech rather than outward on the foot.

I ran a light line from the end of the boom to the outhaul car that stops the car from going forward any more than about the halfway point on the track, and that has worked great.

If this is what's going on, you should be able to pull the sail out easily by hand by pulling aftward on the clew. If it still won't unfurl, you probably have an overlap inside the mast.
 

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The life of a sail is approximately 8 years on a cruising boat. Yours is double of this age. There are a lot of recomendations for furling-unfurling an inmast main. In my opinion inmast furling is not as good as genova furling and always causes similiar problems specially when the wind pipes up and you need to furl your main. In my opinion it is best to use classic main until the manufacturers really solve this problem.
 

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The life of a sail is approximately 8 years on a cruising boat. Yours is double of this age. There are a lot of recomendations for furling-unfurling an inmast main. In my opinion inmast furling is not as good as genova furling and always causes similiar problems specially when the wind pipes up and you need to furl your main. In my opinion it is best to use classic main until the manufacturers really solve this problem.
I have no idea of how much sailing you have actually done with inmast furling, but we're going on 5 years of hard sailing and can't say there is any need for the "manufacturers really solve this problem". Our Hood furl system is over 30 YEARS old, so this is not some new fangled innovation. Even with our old, very worn out sail, we rarely have problems (never had a problem we couldn't solve in a few minutes, though), and we furl on every point of sail above a broad reach. 0 knots of wind to 60+, we've been able to reef the main and it is a great feature to be able to do so without the need of coming head to wind. You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but we are devoted fans of the "infinite reefing" our Hood Stowaway system gives us.
 
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I am sailing nearly for 35 years and nearly half of this time I used in mast furling systems mainly on European boats. Unfortunately I am not familiar with Hood.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Ted Hood invented in-mast furling. Our Hood system is also more than 30 years old and it is great. We just used it for a circumnavigation and it was wonderful - totally reliable. If other builders of mast furling haven't worked it out then caveat emptor would apply for buyers.

I wonder if problems in other cases may be that the cavity for the sail to furl in is too small? The Hood mast gives you quite a generous volume because the mast section on our boat and I assume Capta's is huge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update!

Again, thanks to all of you who offered suggestions on how to solve my problem. I also consulted my local sailmaker who actually came up with the "winning idea".

It turns out that during the previous sail I had tensioned the main sail more and... too much. By simply loosening the tension on the main halyared (+/- 10cm or 4 in) with the main rolled in the mast the whole issue went away. I obviously was unaware that too much tension could have this effect, and won't forget now, so this is my way to pass this on to all my sailing buddies out there!

Take care and fair winds!
 

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Captain
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I have nothing to add. Good luck flandria. The Georgian Bay is one of the nicest places on Earth. You are fortunate to have a boat there. I've thought about keeping a boat up north as it would take too long to sail there.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Night Sailor... Yes, it would be worth dedicating a season to Georgian Bay and the North Channel if you have the time. Mid-June to mid-September is the "window" for best weather (including... no ice...). Would be a good fresh water wash for your (boat's) bottom.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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It turns out that during the previous sail I had tensioned the main sail more and... too much.
Glad you got things sorted. Thanks for reporting back. Note that you can run into the same problem with jibs with too much halyard tension or too much backstay tension.
 
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