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Discussion Starter #1
So I took off early down the Chesapeake from Reedville last Wednesday headed south in 15 kt. winds, not predicted to be above 25 until late afternoon. I only had to go about 12 miles, then turn West to enter the Rappahannock river. Well, NOAA blew the forecast and about 1.5 hours into the sail the winds were 25 gusting to 30 or 35, and they were issuing a gale warning for later, with following seas about 4-5 feet. Since it was just myself and an inexperienced girlfriend aboard, I opted to motorsail with only about 3/4 Jib out so I could minimize trips on deck.

As we turned west I quickly realized that the short-frequency, steep waves of the Chesapeake directly on my beam were not going to cut it and decided to tack at 45 degrees into, then turn 45 degrees away from the wind/waves in order to make headway to the west. I decided to furl the Jib and just motor. That was when I realized that even when I pulled with all my might on the furling line, I could not get the sail in on any point of sail. It was not jammed, there was just too much wind on it. I was finally able to get the line around a winch while going downwind and winch it in, but because the wind was so strong it wrapped the sail up so tight that I ran out of line before it was all in and was left with about a 4 ft. triangle sticking out which flailed a hole in my sail.

So what did I do wrong (besides going out in the first place) and does anybody have a better technique for furling the jib in high winds?
 

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You cannot furl the sail with any pressure on it. The sheet should be fully eased (except for slight drag to minimize the bulk of the furl a bit unless it's as windy as you experienced.)

If it's too windy to furl the sail even with it luffing or if it furls too tight as it did for you, then the best way is to head deep downwind, hide the jib behind the main and furl it then. Be careful not to allow an accidental jibe, since you'll be heading pretty deep during the manuever and you don't want those complications.

Generally if you need a winch to get the sail furled either you're doing it wrong, or there's a mechanical problem, or a substandard furler.

Also, as you unfurl the sail be sure to keep some drag on the furling line then too, ie- ease the sail out rather than let it spin itself out... otherwise you can get really nasty overrides on the furling drum that can cause a problem later.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You cannot furl the sail with any pressure on it. The sheet should be fully eased (except for slight drag to minimize the bulk of the furl a bit unless it's as windy as you experienced.)

If it's too windy to furl the sail even with it luffing or if it furls too tight as it did for you, then the best way is to head deep downwind, hide the jib behind the main and furl it then. Be careful not to allow an accidental jibe, since you'll be heading pretty deep during the manuever and you don't want those complications.

Generally if you need a winch to get the sail furled either you're doing it wrong, or there's a mechanical problem, or a substandard furler.

Also, as you unfurl the sail be sure to keep some drag on the furling line then too, ie- ease the sail out rather than let it spin itself out... otherwise you can get really nasty overrides on the furling drum that can cause a problem later.
I had it fully luffing heading into the wind with sheets eased but still could not get it in. I will have to check the furling gear to make sure it is not binding, but it did not seem to be a mechanical problem and it is a good Profurl system.
 

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STARBOARD!!
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Check to see that your halyard is not wrapping up around the headstay. If the halyard exit is not angled away from the headstay it can wrap easily if there is a high amount of load on the swivel (like when you are in windy conditions). Also, backstay should be tight enough so that the sag of the headstay is somewhat minimized; if the headstay is loose then the foil will not want to bend as it rotates around the headstay.

If your halyard goes to the top of the mast and it exits the mast more than 8-10" you should add a pennant made of stainless wire between the head of the sail and the swivel. That will minimize the ability of the halyard to wrap up because the eye splice is thicker and it won't twist as easily; and the length is shorter between the swivel and the sheave box. When I added a pennant to the head of my jib it eliminated the problem of a wrapping halyard.

Also make sure that the furling control line is running free and be sure that when the line exits the drum it is at 90 deg to the headstay because if it is not the line won't spool onto the drum evenly. You should always have about 10 extra turns on the furling drum so that you don't run out of purchase if the sail furls tightly around the foil; so you should either add more turns by dropping the sail and then pre feeding some in by rotating the drum by hand, and if the line is not long enough for this replace the line with a longer one.

Another thing to consider in the situation you were in is that it is nearly always safer to remain under (reduced) sail than to try and drop sails and motor to your destination. I agree that you had a tough situation with inexperienced crew and double-handed; but even if you reduce the headsail to a storm jib size and then either spill your main a bit or reef it (I know this might not have been an easy procedure given your scenario), you are going to make better time and in more safety than under motor alone. I think of my engine as a device to use in an emergency; since it is also difficult to raise sail if you lose engine power while under motor alone (if your filters get clogged, or if you have some other engine related failure). With the situation of tacking into the wind with waves on the beam; just spill your sails a bit; go at the waves on with them aft of your beam a bit and you should be OK because your heel will be reduced and the wave will push your stern to windward. If you see a big roller coming you can round up and let it go past your bow then continue along. Morgan 416 O/I should be up to the task; next time you head out into challenging wind conditions be sure and have more crew along.
 

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Larus Marinus
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Make sure you have a good few turns on the furling line drum in excess of what appears necessary in the marina. Then you can furl it completely, if necessary with the help of a winch.
 

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I routinely furl the jib heading downwind as suggested by Faster. When furling is difficult, rather than pulling the furler line straight back. I repeatedly pull the line perpendicular the cleat and the furler, and then take up the slack.
 

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Having a few extra turns on the furling drum is a very good idea, as some of the furling drums can separate under load if they don't have a couple of wraps of line around them. Generally, you'll want at least five-to-six extra wraps around the drum so that when you've furled the sail completely, you can wrap the sheets around it two-or-three times and still have a two-to-three wraps on the drum. The sheets wrapped around the sail help ensure that it won't come unfurled when you don't want it to.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm going to have to give the furling gear a good once over while I have the jib off for repair. It seems like there are just too many times when it is hard to furl it if there is much wind at all. From what I am reading, it should be fairly easy to furl up without using superhuman strength or a winch no matter what the wind.

More crew or at least more experienced crew would have helped a lot on the trip. In lieu of that I am going to have to rethink the kind of weather I go out in without another experienced crewmember.
 

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moderate?
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Tausap...if you are presently in Deltaville getting the work done...suggest Bay Area Rigging as really good and competent folks. <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td width="100">
</td><td> (804) 776-7476 </td></tr></tbody></table>
 

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Larus Marinus
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I suppose it depends on how big a headsail you are trying to furl. With my large and heavy 140 genoa, I can only furl it in light airs without a little help from the winch (being a 2 kg weakling helps here). Using the winch in heavy airs has the advantage of preventing the beast slipping out of control. It does require a cautious eye on the head of the sail, just in case halyard wrap looks imminent, or some loose spinaker halyard decides to get involved.
 

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Furling problems

Tausup,

If I understand your problem correctly the headsail was partially furled and you then encountered a building breeze and made a couple of tacks, then when you pulled hard on the furling line after letting the sheets loose, the sail would not roll up any further. If that is the problem you encountered you may want to experiment some on a less windy day troubleshooting the following theory.

The idea behind easy furling is a relatively tight forestay and a relatively loose halyard. Think about a bakers rolling pin. It wouldn't roll too easily if it wasn't perfectly round. Also think bout the handles. If the handles were pressed too tightly against the roller, it wouldn't roll easily. The furling system works the same way but on a much larger scale. A sagging forestay ruins the straight line the sail needs to travel around when it rolls up. A tight halyard increases the loads on the top and bottom bearings..once again making it harder to roll up. When a sail is partially rolled up, and the wind builds, the same things are happening as the sail that is wrapped around the furler tightens up and acts like a tightened halyard. The forestay sags due to the increase in pressure from the breeze and the whole thing is hard to work.

What you might consider is to go out on a 10 knot day and unfurl the headsail, then loosen the halyard until you see some small wrinkles coming back from the luff. Then tighten up the backstay till the forestay is straight as you will have it when sailing in a bigger breeze, then slack off the halyard some more till the wrinkles come back. Try rolling up the headsail at this point a few turns, then unroll it some and roll it back up. When you are happy with the performance, mark the halyard and backstay settings with a sharpie marker so you can reset them easily. Slacking off on the halyard in a building breeze is the exact opposite of what you want to do to maintain sail trim, but once you roll it up partially, you will be relieving some of the pressure on the furled sail.

The interaction between the headstay tension and the halyard tension is sort of a black art and you may have to experiment some to get it just right.

Hope this helps some,

121Guy
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Tausup,

If I understand your problem correctly the headsail was partially furled and you then encountered a building breeze and made a couple of tacks, then when you pulled hard on the furling line after letting the sheets loose, the sail would not roll up any further. If that is the problem you encountered you may want to experiment some on a less windy day troubleshooting the following theory.

The idea behind easy furling is a relatively tight forestay and a relatively loose halyard. Think about a bakers rolling pin. It wouldn't roll too easily if it wasn't perfectly round. Also think bout the handles. If the handles were pressed too tightly against the roller, it wouldn't roll easily. The furling system works the same way but on a much larger scale. A sagging forestay ruins the straight line the sail needs to travel around when it rolls up. A tight halyard increases the loads on the top and bottom bearings..once again making it harder to roll up. When a sail is partially rolled up, and the wind builds, the same things are happening as the sail that is wrapped around the furler tightens up and acts like a tightened halyard. The forestay sags due to the increase in pressure from the breeze and the whole thing is hard to work.

What you might consider is to go out on a 10 knot day and unfurl the headsail, then loosen the halyard until you see some small wrinkles coming back from the luff. Then tighten up the backstay till the forestay is straight as you will have it when sailing in a bigger breeze, then slack off the halyard some more till the wrinkles come back. Try rolling up the headsail at this point a few turns, then unroll it some and roll it back up. When you are happy with the performance, mark the halyard and backstay settings with a sharpie marker so you can reset them easily. Slacking off on the halyard in a building breeze is the exact opposite of what you want to do to maintain sail trim, but once you roll it up partially, you will be relieving some of the pressure on the furled sail.

The interaction between the headstay tension and the halyard tension is sort of a black art and you may have to experiment some to get it just right.

Hope this helps some,

121Guy
Excellent post! That may be exactly what the problem is because I noticed yesterday that the headstay appeared to need tightening. I also know that the Halyard is fairly tight.

Now, granted, I know the sail is going to be more difficult to furl in heavier winds due to the load being put on it. This is my first boat with roller furling and though I have no previous experience with it, I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tausap...if you are presently in Deltaville getting the work done...suggest Bay Area Rigging as really good and competent folks. <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td width="100">
</td><td> (804) 776-7476 </td></tr></tbody></table>
I am back in my homeport of Colonial Beach now but may give them a call. Thanks
 

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Telstar 28
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Of course, if the boat has a backstay tensioner, you can often apply backstay tension to tighten up the forestay, help flatten the jib to depower it, reduce the forestay sag, and make the furling the sail easier.

Excellent post! That may be exactly what the problem is because I noticed yesterday that the headstay appeared to need tightening. I also know that the Halyard is fairly tight.

Now, granted, I know the sail is going to be more difficult to furl in heavier winds due to the load being put on it. This is my first boat with roller furling and though I have no previous experience with it, I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
 

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... I find it hard to believe that it would be impossible to furl even putting all my strength into it without a winch. What kind of resistance would be normal to encounter when furling the jib in, say, a 25-30 knot wind?
In that much breeze the luffing sail will be very difficult to furl directly. That's a lot of load on the sail and the furling gear. Furling the sail while sailing downwind with the jib in the lee of the main as I suggested earlier makes life easier on you, the sail, and the gear.

While using a winch here will obviously help, it's too easy to keep on grinding without noticing some other problem and then doing some damage.
 

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Guys, this is a great thread. I had some problems with my furling in heavy airs (I have a Profurl and a medium-weight Yankee-cut jib on my cutter, and while I was able to solve them by blanketing the jib, the "physics" of the operation are now clear to me.

Thanks for the in-depth discussion.
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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I always turn downwind to furl the headsail on my boat. I can easily control the amount of wind pressure on the headsail by heading up or down as needed. That way I get a nice tight wrap around the furler without wrapping it so tight that I run out of line.

I would agree that Brett's problems were likely due to a loose backstay allowing the forestay to go slack when heading downwind. It's very hard to roll a foil with a loop in it.
 

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Furling Problems

Hi Tausup,

I may have assumed incorrectly that you have a mechanical backstay adjuster and now see that you sail a Morgan with a relatively large headsail.

If my first assumption was not accurate, but my second one is, perhaps you may want to try to the following. If you are not familiar with tuning the rig both at the dock and then further underway, you may need some professional help as was already posted.

The Profurl is arguably the most durable furling system around and is one of the only ones I know of that actually recommends using a winch when necessary. On a boat your size, with a large heavy headsail in the winds you describe, you may have to resort to a winch but before that, I'd make sure the mast is tuned right for the type of sailing you do. If the backstay is fixed, you are going to want to overtighten it some so as to take up any slack in the headstay and leave it that way. If that isn't possible, perhaps you will need to take up some adjustment in the forestay and then play with the halyard as previously discussed. Mast tune is another one of the black arts so you may want to get some help so that it is set up just right.

A good starting point is to grab the forestay at the dock and shake it. If you can move it back and forth with moderate force, it may well be too loose. I'd guess that when hard on the wind, with the sail fully out, you should have less than a foot or so of sag right in the middle of the furler. As far as the furler is concerned remember a tighter forestay and looser halyard is always better!

Good luck!

121 Guy
 

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Another problem, no one yet mentioned, concerns unfurling.

If you just release the furl line, pull the sheet, it'll unfurl, but the furling line won't be wrapped on the furler evenly and may even overlap the line making furling impossible.

Always unfurl with some tension on the furler line.
 

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Another problem, no one yet mentioned, concerns unfurling.

If you just release the furl line, pull the sheet, it'll unfurl, but the furling line won't be wrapped on the furler evenly and may even overlap the line making furling impossible.

Always unfurl with some tension on the furler line.
True. indeed, but was addressed in Post #2:)
 
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