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Earlier this spring, I posted a request for info regarding roller furling systems. I was looking to purchase my first one, and promised I would post back what I decided to purchase. I was interested in the Harken, Spin-Tec, CDI, and Schaeffer models.

I ended up going with a CDI flexi furler model FF6 for my Catalina 27. The important issues for me were durability, ease of function, installation, and reefing ability. Here''s what I found:

1. Installation - I had a rigger install my system for me. I love to work on my boat, but when it comes to standing rigging, I feel that it is best left to a professional.
If my mast ever crashes, I want to be able to blame someone other than myself. My rigger gave me three options for modifying/replacing the headstay. As I recall, modifying the stay was 60 bucks, modifying it and replacing top terminal was 85, and replacing the whole thing was 120. I decided to replace it - it was old and only cost an additinal 60 bucks, and made the most sense. Other than that, installation went as planned.

2. Durability - furling sys comes with a lifetime warranty to purchaser, so I figured I couldn''t go wrong. System is well built, and after 6 months hard work, it still runs like its just out of the box. If it fails, I just send it back. With the new forestay in place, this is not an impossible task.

3. Ease of Function - man, it couldn''t be easier. Even in heavy winds, the system is dependable. The hardest thing to deal with is the thin 1/4 inch line which, if you lose control of it on the way out, will burn you like a blow torch. If necessary, you could fire your motor and drive into the wind to make opening the sail easy, but I generally harden up on the main, and then tug gently on the jibsheet while close hauled. Putting away the sail is a breeze on just about any point of sail, but I prefer to do it somewhere just past a close reach (for best fit). Strong winds are tougher, but generally not a problem at all.

Reefing - The system reefs easily and predictably. I purchased a new 150 genoa with the furler, and opted for the foam luff to help with sail shape. While it helps, sail shape suffers below about 120 percent, with wrinkles appearing at the luff. Adjustment of the foot will help with this. However, when the wind blows hard enough to warrant a 100 or 90 percent jib, I generally don''t care much about efficient sail shape. In fact, less than efficient is almost desireable when the winds really kick up. I also opted for the Torlon main bearing on the furler (instead of the standard, solid neoprene one), which makes deployment and reefing a snap. The option was recommended to me by an owner, and I would not fail to recommend it to anyone considering a CDI. Great item!

So, those were my findings. Price for the furler and new sail was 1500 bucks, plus 90 bucks for the foam luff, and 60 bucks for the torlon bearing. Sail came with heavy duty Sunbrella strip. Installation was around 180 bucks, in addition to the new headstay. Boat is used on an inland canyon-type damned lake. Winds are frequently gusty and strong in spring and fall. Hull is in freshwater year round.

Hope this helps anyone deciding on their first furling system.

Best Regards,

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