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We have an older 28 foot masthead sloop with hank-on foresails (33 foot luff)... actually 4 of them from 160% down to 70%.. all in decent (or better) condition. My wife wants roller furling... me, not so much as a jib bag on the foredeck works for me. We're in our early sixties, reasonably fit and mostly daysail or do coastal overnights but no extended cruising.

So...
1. Please report any experience with Alado furlers (reasonably-priced and highly-rated by Practical Sailor).

2. Please advise if you've gotten roller furling and regretted it, or gotten it and now wonder why you didn't act sooner. Please explain why (remember, we're on a small manageable boat).

3. Please advise if you have some idea what I'd pay to have one sail altered for furler use (remove hanks, #6 luff tape, UV protection on leech and foot).

4. Any other thoughts you think are pertinent.

Thanks
 

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We spent the first ten years of our sailing with hanked on sails.. the next 12 with a headstay foil. with our most recent boat we were back to hanks, but added/changed to a furler after a couple of years, and really wouldn't go back.

- Fewer trips forward

- Easier to start/stop sailing as the breeze ebbs and flows, if we slow to the point that we need to motor, the main usually stays up - so when the breeze comes back we simply zip out the jib and start sailing again.. prior to that we spent time debating whether it was worth the effort of unbagging/hoisting (and rebagging later)

-The fact that we carry kayaks on deck was made easier by not having to go forward quite so often.

- One sailbag less to be stored below while cruising.

We bought Harken's cruising furler (single groove, heavier round 'foil'). We no longer race but I'm regretting that small economy move. I think the performance hit is much more than I expected with that fat foil in the way all the time. However the unit itself is working flawlessly (despite the crappy furling line supplied with the unit)

Anecdotally I've heard good things about the Alado - reliable and dependable, but it will also suffer from the large diameter 'foil' effects - so it depends on how much you'll care about that.

I would suggest that if your sails are vintage it may not be worth converting them.. I'd look back and see which of your 4 headsails you used most over the last while and have a new one made of a size that would seem most practical.. we went with a 120% jib/genoa, intended to be a furled sail. Seemed the right compromise for easy tacking, reasonable power, not needing to reef/change too early. I'd consider adding luff tape to your smallest headsail (unless it's totally 'blown out') so you've got a good option if you're forced to beat your way home in a real breeze. Trying to do so with a partially rolled sail will never be optimum.

The first jib we put on our furler had no UV protection and we simply removed it and stored it below in its bag between trips.. not that big a deal if you are already used to hanked-on sails. The newest one is protected, we leave it up for the season but do put it away in the fall and put it up for daysails if the opportunity presents itself.

I think overall it's a good addition and you'll get a lot of use out of it. If you choose to use sails that are not UV protected, you might want to modify the sail to make it easier to put on and off, as we did (see the snap hooks installed below - we did both tack and head)

 
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I think most 'furler failures' - at least with headsail furlers - are 'operator error' issues. Most common is probably failure to keep tension on the furling line when unfurling and you get an override in the drum..

Halyard wrap, another issue, can be dealt with at the installation level with a halyard restrainer or adding pennants to the hoist to bring the swivel to the top of the foil.

If these two prime suspects are eliminated I think the gear is pretty darned robust nowadays.
 

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Alado furler can not suffer from halyard wrap because there is no halyard on the mast, it is on the furler foil. this is an advantage if you do not change the trim of your headsails underway. good furler for cruising. converting a sail to the luff tape is easy but if the luff length needs to be shorter then it can be much more involved. Most furlers will raise the tack up several inches which can effect the luff hoist length and will change the jib sheet lead position on the deck for proper trim. If you have standard battens in the sail they will need to be the roll up type or changed to vertical battens.
would I give up my furler? never. not unless i was looking be thrown overboard by the Admiral
 

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I've sailed since the early 60's, long before roller furling sails. I sailed with 22 bags of sails on one 50' Rhodes I owned; where were we supposed to sleep? Long story short, I love furlers and would never go back. Even many of the traditional schooners and tall ships use them, no matter that they aren't traditional; they do the job better and are much safer for the crew. All the horror stories are, for the most part as mentioned above, operator error, not the equipment.
I don't think I could come up with one single logical reason why someone shouldn't have a furler on a sailing vessel these days. In an emergency like losing power in a confined channel, I can have a headsail set in less than 60 seconds. No running up to the foredeck to loose the sail ties or unbag it, and back to the cockpit (or mast) to raise it. If you feel you must change headsails underway, well, it is just as easy to do with a furler as with a hanked sail (perhaps easier; no corroded hanks), so have a few different headsails if you wish; we have a Yankee for most sailing and a 150 for lighter winds which, when we can afford it, will go on a second furler.
I suppose I could go back to sailing with a compass and a sextant doing hours of navigation every day, but why would I, if gps makes it so much easier and safer?
 

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One of my friends is sailing in his late 70's. Another single handed a 42 foot boat into his early 90's.

In both cases, the key was design for "geriatric sailing." Roller furling is a must. Also, here, where we get 15-25 most afternoons, the old guys have gone to smaller headsails. 110-90 vs 130-160 depending on the boat. No one here has regretted that change.

I don't know the specific furler you mention, but a number of us old guys like Shaeffer's. Interestingly, they have large extrusion sections which make for easy rolling. We don't care about the performance hit, we are sailing, often single handing and having a blast.

When choosing this stuff, you got to think about function for the individual involved. I definitely would choose a smaller extrusion foil if I was a racer, but I'm an "old guy" and ease of use is paramount. The guy who single handed into his 90's is my idol, the trick is to stay healthy, active, in shape...and then properly equip your boat. I plan on them burying me in it, and not any time soon ;)
 

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After over 30 years sailing boats with hanked on jibs, my current boat came with a Harken furler. I must say I am a convert. Best part is no quarter berth filled with sails. I have a 135 on the furler which is a good compromise for the winds here on Long Island Sound. Large enough for the lighter winds but can be furled to about 100% and still retain decent shape (I have a foam luff).

I would only consider converting a sail from hanks to furling if it was in really good shape. The cost of adding the tape, UV cover, etc. is probably going to be a good percentage of a new sail.
 

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came into inlet leading to Georgetown a few years back,blowing like stink.
when I wound in the roller headsail it was so tight it left a bit still out.dam near put me on the shore.
rollers work great, and they're easy and convenient.
until they aren't.
call me gun shy.
if it's got one moving part,it'll break, or mess up,just a matter of when.
Don't blame the furling gear for being set up improperly, I'd say that fits into Faster's category of "operator error". Your furling line was not adjusted correctly, or was too 'stretchy', as any furling unit must be configured to allow for the eventuality of winding up with an extremely tight furl in a blow...

And, in the event one does wind up with a scrap of headsail still flying, it should not be a big deal to go forward and wind it up further by hand after removing the line. Every furler should have the means of locking the drum in place anyway, so the furling line would not even necessarily have to be removed at that time...

I have found modern, high quality headsail furling from manufacturers like Profurl, Schaefer, Furlex, Harken and others to be among the most reliable of systems out there, today... When properly installed and maintained, of course... I see lots of boats where people are really making it harder on themselves - and the gear - with poor choices made in regard to size, the manner in which they're configured, the choice of line, and so on... The headsail furling line is one of the more critical single bits of string on any boat, it's amazing how many people appear to think 'Any Old Type of Rope' will do... :)
 

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My wife wants roller furling... me, not so much

4. Any other thoughts you think are pertinent.

Thanks
Do you like sailing with you wife? :D

First boat for me was hank on. Second boat was hank con converted to RF. 3rd boat is RF. Both my wife and I think adding RF to the second boat was THE BEST project we ever did for that boat.

MedSailor
 

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My first sailboat, a Catalina 27, had hank on sails. After that first year, I purchased an Alado system and never looked back. It's very strong, large drum, no bearings to mess with, no pins to fall out, overlapping sheaves, very easy to install, and modestly priced. Since going up to a 33 Morgan Out Island, I installed an Alado on it was well. I sail singlehanded 99 percent of the time, and for me, I wouldn't consider hank on sails for single handed sailing at all - just too risky for an old codger like me to climb on to the bow in nasty weather. I'm 74 years old, and at this age, if you break some body part, they tend to put you in a nursing home. Play it safe.

Good luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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The headsail furling line is one of the more critical single bits of string on any boat, it's amazing how many people appear to think 'Any Old Type of Rope' will do... :)
Jon, please elaborate on this statement. Us old schooner sailors moving onto the more modern designs and rigs are probably not as knowledgeable as you young pups about this stuff. The last boat I operated professionally was a NE fishing schooner built in 1906 and converted for 39 passengers. No RF there.
 

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came into inlet leading to Georgetown a few years back,blowing like stink.
when I wound in the roller headsail it was so tight it left a bit still out.dam near put me on the shore.
rollers work great, and they're easy and convenient.
until they aren't.
call me gun shy.
if it's got one moving part,it'll break, or mess up,just a matter of when.
course, most boats die at the dock,not underway, so yours might last your lifetime.
Again, this incident falls under the category of operator error in that you did not insure sufficient control line was pre-wound on the furler to allow complete furling in high wind/thight wrap situations.
Carrying your philosophy to its logical end one would never own and use a sailboat.
John
Just read John eisburgs post. He said it better than I.
 

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The headsail furling line is one of the more critical single bits of string on any boat, it's amazing how many people appear to think 'Any Old Type of Rope' will do... :)
This is my thought exactly. I installed a Schaefer system in Argyle last spring. If you don't mind the weight (and I certainly won't notice it :p ) this is a very robust furler. Very happy so far.

The two main things that go wrong with furling gear is a twist at halyard spinner and a buggared up drum. Both potential issues can be mitigated with good choice of line. On a roller furler, your halyard should be of the very low stretch variety. I have a boat that is about 1000% toward the cruising end of the spectrum, but my jib halyard is the same stuff that's used on a lot of the boats I race on. You need your halyard length (actually your luff length) to stay constant in a lot of conditions in order to have smooth operation.

I've been of the opinion for a little while that the same logic could be applied to the furling line at the drum. After clearing out a few seized lines at the drum on other boats, it seemed to me that line stretch was exacerbating the problem. Similar to the way sail tape sticks to itself when you stretch it out and wrap it, a furling line will do the same thing. It seems to me like if you upgrade your furling line by a bit to something a bit less stretchy than the cheap stuff, you would be doing yourself a favor.

So when I was outfitting my kit for the furler install, I went with a but more of a premium line. I didn't go all out with the highest tech stuff out there, but I did bump up the purchase by notch in the halyard-control line category. I think I ended up with XLS or XLS Extra, don't remember. There is a big drop in line stretch between the cheapest (XL) and the next one up (XLS) for Sampson ropes. I'm sure the same can be said for New England ropes and some others, although I don't think I would try to used Stayset-X for a furling line. I also bumped the line diameter from the recommended 5/16 to 3/8. (Still plenty of room on the drum.)

I haven't had to furl in angry conditions yet. Time will tell if it will make a difference.
 

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One of the major problems with all roller furling systems is the line overrunning the tangling on the drum. This problem can easily be solved by taking a tip from the folks who designed drums for boat trailer winches. They added a neat, spring loaded device that lays against the drum that makes the line or in their case, steel cable, roll onto the drum very neatly without the possibility of overruns. I'm going to make one for my Alado this spring and I'll be sure to post some photos. It's not at all complicated to make, and install. I don't know why the folks that design roller furling systems didn't do this decades ago when the trailer manufacturers did.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

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Jon, please elaborate on this statement. Us old schooner sailors moving onto the more modern designs and rigs are probably not as knowledgeable as you young pups about this stuff. The last boat I operated professionally was a NE fishing schooner built in 1906 and converted for 39 passengers. No RF there.
LOL! "Young pup", eh? Don't I wish... :)

Argyle already covered some of this, I agree with his take... In my opinion, low stretch line is important in a furling line... It's well worth spending some $ for top quality rope and blocks to minimize friction, and any possibility of chafe.

In addition to low stretch, the qualities I want in a furling line are sufficient diameter (depending on boat size, of course, but 3/8 is the absolute minimum, IMHO) that will be easy on the hands. It should be supple in order to run freely, and resist the possibility of hockling, or developing any twist. I recommend a rope with a Dyneema core, so the cover can be stripped from at least the portion of the rope that will wind on the drum... This will greatly reduce the possibility of getting any sort of snag or wrap on the drum, and will likely allow you to use a larger diameter rope than might be specified for a particular furler. I'm using Samson MLX on my boat for my furling lines, very nice stuff, easy on the hand and easy to grip...

I've always felt on boats up to the mid 40' range or so, if you can't furl the genoa in normal sailing conditions by hand alone, something is wrong... Either the furler is undersized, or there's way too much friction in the system... Having to put a furling line on a winch is a recipe for disaster, and an electric winch doubly so... :)

I'll never understand why most manufacturers use a covered drum. One of my main reasons for my preference for Profurl on my own boat, is their open drum... I also really like the stanchion mounted lead blocks by Harken - like pretty much everything Harken makes, well worth the money...





Finally, my pet peeve about the furling lines aboard many of the boats I run. It's amazing how many furling lines are run thru stanchion blocks or fairleads adjacent to the lifeline boarding gates, so that the line when taut might be a few inches above deck level, or the toerail... An unbelievably dangerous tripping hazard when dockside, or at anchor if you're boarding your dinghy from amidships, yet I'm astonished how common this is... By the time the line is run back to the gate, it should be at deck level, or at least lower than the toerail or bulwark. Or, at the very least, there should be some sort of hook at the base of each stanchion, that allow for 'stowing' the line at deck level so that it doesn't present a tripping hazard...
 

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One of the major problems with all roller furling systems is the line overrunning the tangling on the drum. This problem can easily be solved by taking a tip from the folks who designed drums for boat trailer winches. They added a neat, spring loaded device that lays against the drum that makes the line or in their case, steel cable, roll onto the drum very neatly without the possibility of overruns. I'm going to make one for my Alado this spring and I'll be sure to post some photos. It's not at all complicated to make, and install. I don't know why the folks that design roller furling systems didn't do this decades ago when the trailer manufacturers did.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
I don't know, Gary - every furler I've ever used has a "spring", of sorts...

it's more commonly known as a "sail"...

:))

Getting an override on the drum is ALWAYS an "operator error"...

:)
 
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