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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Unlike the previous posts I am not seeking advice per se, but have already decided I want a mainsail furling system, whether on my next boat (feel free to respond of you have a boat so equipped for sale on lakes Erie, Huron, or Michigan), or on my current boat a 1989 Hunter 27-2. My decision, based upon cost and simplicity, is most likely going to be to outfit the current boat with a behind the mast furler system such as a CDI MR-6 or equivalent.

Before we run down the rabbit hole of those mainsail furler pro-con debates the idea, please keep in mind the following:
  • I am at late middle-aged sailor, who has health problems making jumping on the deck difficult.
  • I almost ALWAYS single hand the vessel.
  • I almost never have the sails up because of the hassle with the current system.
  • I don't give a wit about the performance hit, as long as I'm making way and the engine is off.
I am looking for the following:
  • Opinions on currently available mainsail furling systems (cost, ease of use, ease of install)
  • Riggers in the Cleveland-Toledo area who can install (if it is a difficult job), and transmit the necessary info to a sail loft
  • A reasonably priced sail loft that understands making sails for furling systems.
Thanks in advance
Sailor Bob
 

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A marina neighbor went with a boom furling main & electric winch on his Island Packet 31 about 5 years ago. He is early 70s, single hands and likes to avoid jumping on deck as well.

It was not the least expensive option. He absolutely swears by it for performance and safety, and if the furling gear fails, he can still drop the sail. I think he spent ~$20k for the boom, sail, and electric winch installed.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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As someone in my 70's, if I wanted a reliable mainsail furling/reefing system, I would do the Dutchman system with a two line reefing system, and the halyard run back to the cockpit. That way you are handling less line under a lower load and can get a more conducive sail shape for cruising (less heel, less need to reef, less weather helm). If you want to douse the sail completely from the cockpit, you might want to add a downhaul as well.

If you do want to go with a behind the mast, or in-mast roller furler, then pick a system that you can ease and tension the halyard while sailing. CDI's have their own internal halyard with no real way to get proper tension for sailing, or ease the halyard to take the strain off the the luff of the sail. The inability to tension the halyard means more heeling and weather helm. The inability to slack the halyard shortens the useful life of the sail.

Jeff
 
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As someone in my 70's, if I wanted a reliable mainsail furling/reefing system, I would do the Dutchman system with a two line reefing system, and the halyard run back to the cockpit. That way you are handling less line under a lower load and can get a more conducive sail shape for cruising (less heel, less need to reef, less weather helm). If you want to douse the sail completely from the cockpit, you might want to add a downhaul as well.
I agree completely with Jeff. I am in my 70s and have that exact system on my Cal 33-2. I single hand and with an autopilot, rasing and lowering the main is no problem. Much less costly than retrofitting a main furler. If you really want a main furler, I would consider selling the current boat and buying a new one fitted out as you desire.
 

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I raise and lower all the sails on our Alerion28 with my husband on the helm. I think he stops looking where he is going and starts looking at me because I swear he starts going on the wind making dousing and raising very difficult. Causing me to loudly remind him to head upwind. That said, I can do the whole thing very easily with well rigged jack stays that I can pull out of the way to hoist, a new car system we installed on the mast, and good new sails. I have seen the Dutch system and it looks really neat. But we have a 45 footer and are refitting it with an in-boom furler from an in-mast system. We used to race bigger boats (52-65 feet) so these trim little cruisers seem much easier to double or even single handle. I think an in-mast or in boom-furler would be overkill on a 27 foot yacht. A self furling jib, on the other hand, would be great.
 

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I love our In Mast Roller Furling. Been sailing with it for over ten years, the first one alone, on a 53' boat. However, I think it would be totally impractical to do that to your present boat, as it would require a new mast.
I've never sailed with boom furling, but everyone I have personally spoken with who has it on their boat has, at one point or another, needed someone to feed the slides on the track, while someone else pulls the halyard. Others, posting on these forums and I have not spoken to personally, say they have never had this problem on their systems.
 

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Aloha 32 & Hunter 26.5
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If I was going to purchase a main furling system, it would be in-boom. The mast furling systems do not allow the use of horizontal battens and when a mast furler jams you have no way to get the sail down. In heavy winds, this can be a catastrophe.

The in boom systems are very sensitive to boom angle adjustment, but when tuned correctly, they do tend to work well. If they do jam, you can still drop the main the old fashion way.

Of the furling systems I have owned, the only brand I would not buy again is CDI, due to the inability to adjust halyard tension the way I want.

The behind the mast systems usually allow you to set & retract the sail further off the wind compared to the in mast systems.

The main furling systems tend to be harder on the sails compared to a stack pack, dutchman, or lazy jack system, but the furlers are normally the least labor intensive option when they work correctly.
 

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If I was going to purchase a main furling system, it would be in-boom. The mast furling systems do not allow the use of horizontal battens and when a mast furler jams you have no way to get the sail down. In heavy winds, this can be a catastrophe.

The in boom systems are very sensitive to boom angle adjustment, but when tuned correctly, they do tend to work well. If they do jam, you can still drop the main the old fashion way.

Of the furling systems I have owned, the only brand I would not buy again is CDI, due to the inability to adjust halyard tension the way I want.

The behind the mast systems usually allow you to set & retract the sail further off the wind compared to the in mast systems.

The main furling systems tend to be harder on the sails compared to a stack pack, dutchman, or lazy jack system, but the furlers are normally the least labor intensive option when they work correctly.
Lots of talk on the internet about potential catastrophic happenings due to an in mast furler jamming but Ive never seen or heard anyone it’s actually happened to. I suspect that’s because they are so rare and a jam usually prevents you from unfurling the sail but not furling it back in, which can hardly be labeled a catastrophe. Also, most jams occur when a sailor first uses that system. There’s a learning curve involved and if you’re paying attention, jams will be extremely rare once you understand how the system works. I have an old Profurl behind the mast furler and like it a lot. My main is a very robust laminated sail that’s probably pushing the size limits of the furling system when fully furled, making a potential jam more likely. But now that I’m familiar with how to operate it, jams never happen anymore. I love the ability to easily reef or add sail area in all conditions from the cockpit. Like JeffH advocates, my plan when this system is no longer viable is to switch to a full battened main with a Dutchman system and a stack pack but not yet....I’ve become quite attached to my somewhat ugly behind the mast furler and that’s something I never saw coming.
 
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