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When we were shopping for our boat in mast furling was a deal breaker. It wasn't so much because of the potential for jamming, although a couple of rigger friends told me that was a common problem on many mast furling systems.

My objection to them was more around performance. Not only do you sacrifice sail area, you also give up tuneability. You have no ability to control luff tension and draft position because you can't use a cunningham. You can't flatten the sail with mast bend. As soon as you start reefing you sacrifice sail shape because the foil shape is cut into the sail, and as soon as you roll up the luff that shape is gone. (The same reason I detest roller reefing headsails).

With slab reefing, be it single line or 2 line, you can reduce sail area while still having all of your more advanced sail shaping tools at your disposal.

Many people are happy with the compromise of performance for the convenience, and that fine. To each their own.
I have to agree with Schock on this. If the goal is to make everything as simple and easy as possible then we can do away with the mainsail altogether (and the headsail too if we have one). Just install a large motor and fuel tank and all of your sail handling problems will vanish. I prefer to do things with tried and true simple sail handling and shape control techniques. The satisfaction of expending the effort and knowledge to make a properly set and shaped sail is a big reason for why I sail. I get it that as we age we may have to submit to new enabling technologies, but I choose to wait as long as I physically can on that. I am seriously thinking of converting my roller furling headsail to a hanked on system. 26' S2 7.9 I have been sailing a Cal 33 with conventional mainsail and the first thing I did was remove the lazy jacks because they were always getting fouled. Raising and lowering the main the "old way" just isn't difficult if one uses knowledge and proper technique. I single-handed that Cal 33 as well. Just turn on the engine and the auto pilot kept the boat head to wind. Raising and lowering the main was no big deal at all. I am nearing 70 years old.
 

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I have to agree with Schock on this. If the goal is to make everything as simple and easy as possible then we can do away with the mainsail altogether (and the headsail too if we have one). Just install a large motor and fuel tank and all of your sail handling problems will vanish. I prefer to do things with tried and true simple sail handling and shape control techniques. The satisfaction of expending the effort and knowledge to make a properly set and shaped sail is a big reason for why I sail. I get it that as we age we may have to submit to new enabling technologies, but I choose to wait as long as I physically can on that. I am seriously thinking of converting my roller furling headsail to a hanked on system. 26' S2 7.9 I have been sailing a Cal 33 with conventional mainsail and the first thing I did was remove the lazy jacks because they were always getting fouled. Raising and lowering the main the "old way" just isn't difficult if one uses knowledge and proper technique. I single-handed that Cal 33 as well. Just turn on the engine and the auto pilot kept the boat head to wind. Raising and lowering the main was no big deal at all. I am nearing 70 years old.
Get rid of your headsail furler? Now thats just crazy talk!

Roller furling headsails don't make nearly as many sacrifices as furling mains. Even many one design racers use furling headsails. They make far more sense than hank on sails, particularly when you are short handed!

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ha! EVERYTHING could break, and at the worst possible moment. It’s a boat.
Have you even seen a Hood Stoway system?
I guess you have a real problem maintaining things or buy inferior quality equipment, but I've done quite a few ocean crossings without breaking anything! Never mind a few hundred deliveries. Though to be honest, maybe a fish line or two on a few really big fish, but not boat equipment.
 

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I am seriously thinking of converting my roller furling headsail to a hanked on system. 26' S2 7.9 I have been sailing a Cal 33 with conventional mainsail and the first thing I did was remove the lazy jacks because they were always getting fouled. Raising and lowering the main the "old way" just isn't difficult if one uses knowledge and proper technique. I single-handed that Cal 33 as well. Just turn on the engine and the auto pilot kept the boat head to wind. Raising and lowering the main was no big deal at all. I am nearing 70 years old.
I guess folks who day sail in sheltered waters can think like you do, but anyone who has been on the foredeck, waist deep in water and holding on for dear life while trying to manhandle a couple of sails, in a gale outside a sheltered bay, probably wouldn't think that way.
 
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The one time I was tossed over board was when I was attempting a sail change... Luckily I was clipped to the toe rail...
 

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I guess folks who day sail in sheltered waters can think like you do, but anyone who has been on the foredeck, waist deep in water and holding on for dear life while trying to manhandle a couple of sails, in a gale outside a sheltered bay, probably wouldn't think that way.
I wouldn't call the Great Lakes sheltered waters. Plan ahead, watch the weather very carefully. Don't bet your life on fancy/complex mechanisms.
 

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Get rid of your headsail furler? Now thats just crazy talk!

Roller furling headsails don't make nearly as many sacrifices as furling mains. Even many one design racers use furling headsails. They make far more sense than hank on sails, particularly when you are short handed!
I'm not nearly as pedantic about the headsail furler. But I don't like using it as a reefing mechanism, which I've seen a lot of sailers do.
 

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I'm not nearly as pedantic about the headsail furler. But I don't like using it as a reefing mechanism, which I've seen a lot of sailers do.
I am with you on that. I have never done it, and likely never will, except perhaps in an emergency.

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Plan ahead, watch the weather very carefully. Don't bet your life on fancy/complex mechanisms.
Here's a thread worth reading if you haven't:
 

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I wouldn't call the Great Lakes sheltered waters. Plan ahead, watch the weather very carefully. Don't bet your life on fancy/complex mechanisms.
If you are willing to bet your life on what the meteorologists put out there, you are a much braver man than I.
As for the Great Lakes, I did them years ago on an 80 footer and I found them one of the most unpleasant and least reliably forecast areas I ever sailed. Certainly nowhere I'd prefer to sail with hanked on sails, unless I was racing, and even then, I'd consider safety over the marginal advantage of the hanked on sails.
Plan ahead, OK, let's have a thread about how well that works out when sailing. If the wind is forward of the beam, you can't even plot a useful course.
It is your boat and the lives of those aboard you are choosing to send out on the foredeck to change headsails when the $hit hits the fan, not mine, so I'll leave you to your choices.
 

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I am with you on that. I have never done it, and likely never will, except perhaps in an emergency.

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Our yankee actually has reinforcement at the reef point, though in extreme situations, we do go past them. The thing is, if I reef the sail, then there is much less strain on it and it is more unlikely to stretch out than a full jib would, in those conditions.
 

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Interesting how people love to defend what they have... :) I’m ok with any main preference and I had boats with and without in mast furling. I race a Farr 40 where no sail is furled, but this boat never leave without a crew of at least 8... My cruising boat that I can practically sail single handed without leaving the cockpit - Contest 43 CC, has all furled sails; main, staysail, genoa and even the asymmetrical is soon going to be furled on a continuous line furler.

Selden furling mast is extremely solid and reliable - never had an issue with the furling. My definite preference was a furling main, especially as short handed and in complicated situations offshore the need for a quick and safe reefing from the cockpit was an absolute must.

Also, the performance very much depends on the design - in the C-43 the main is relatively small (yet keeps a very good shape even when furled) -The main drive comes from a 160% genoa and a 110% staysail. Also, in a center cockpit boat (Another requirement I had for a cruiser), it is difficult to reach the boom for reefing etc., so main furling has another advantage. You can see the setup here.
137165
 

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Interesting how people love to defend what they have... :)
It isn't so much about defending what I have as trying to stop all the misinformation about IMRF. 99% who put it down haven't even used it and grasp at the worst possible scenario, which is so close to impossible, it's ludicrous. Like I keep saying, IMRF doesn't screw up any more than a boat runs aground all by itself; people do both.
Honestly, I couldn't care less what people choose, I'm only trying to impart information from my personal experience. I've used other methods and have found them wanting in comparison to IMRF.
People can take or leave the information , but for crying out loud don't try to tell me that everything on a boat breaks sooner or later or that proper maintenance (never mind a full black box) won't prevent most failures aboard.
One of the most unbelievable things I kept (pre c-19) hearing was that almost every boat that arrived in Panama from Grenada or the ABCs was arriving with a lot of serious damage. It's an easy 1300 mile downwind run and few had reported more than 40 knots (most more like 35) of wind for a day or two around La Guijira! How do you break gear in those conditions?
 

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Agree with you, Capta - the value with forum like this is in sharing actual experience as we cannot only learn from our own. There are always compromises, pros, cons and personal preferences based on actual conditions and many other factors.
The only way to learn, make informed decisions and progress is by sharing honest information and stay objective as possible, in spite of our legitimate strong opinions.
 

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You can have both in-boom furling and reef points, but it would be tricky to do so that the reef lines did not get crossed up when the boom mandrel is being rotated. You can't have both with in-mast furling since you can't get the reef cringles and reinforcing into the mast cavity.

Personally, I have never been a fan of either in-boom or in-mast furling. While I understand why it may make sense on a bigger boat where the physical weight of the sail becomes a significant factor and there are plenty of robust power sources available, I have never understood any advantage for a boat under 40 feet. The reality is that two line reefing is so cheap, so reliable, so quickly adaptable to changes in windspeed, and so fast to employ and undo that at least for me, in-mast or in-boom furling would be a deal killer.

Ignoring the significant weight aloft of an in-mast furler increasing heel angle in heavy air, or the weight of the in-boom hardware damaging light air performance, to me the biggest issues are 'creep' and the inability to adjust sail shape to suit the windspeed when reefed. The creep issue is serious. Over time (hours) on an in-mast furler, the head of the sail creeps towards the foot of the sail, powering up the sail and increasing heel and weather helm. Further rolling the sail, reduces area but pushes that increased draft into the exposed portion of the sail, further degrading its sailing shape and super loading the leech where it leaves the mast shortening sail life.

Similarly, on in-boom reefing, the clew creeps towards the mast, again powering up the sail. The then needed additional furling pushes the bulge into the smaller area of the sail, similarly degrading sail shape and super loading the leech where it exits the boom and shortening sail life.

As noted above, while eliminating battens does save on the initial cost to build the sail, not having battens shortens the life of the sail since battens distribute the concentrated loads over a bigger area of the sail and therefore battens reduce stretch and the resultant long term damage to the fabric. The net result is that hollow leech in-mast or in-boom furled sails, while initially 10-15% less expensive, over the life cycle of the sail end up being more expensive.

From my perspective, the beauty of a two line reefing system is that you can independently change the halyard tension and outhaul tension at any time. This allows the sail to be depowered or powered up in any state of being reefed. That ability to alter the sail shape more than makes up for the loss of ability to infinitely vary the sail area between the various fixed reef points of a two line reefed sail..

Jeff
Great response
 

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Certainly I have my opinion on why I don't want mast furling on my boat, and while it is true that I have never used IMF, I was told by 2 different rigger friends that they are prone to jamming, and that once they do, there is no way to get the sail down. These are guys that work on those systems for a living, so I am inclined to give some weight to their opinions.

At the same time there are sailors on these forums whose skills and experience I have come to respect, who say they have no problems with their furling units, so there is that to consider as well.

So I am inclined to believe that many furler jams are a result of operator error, or apparently, worn and bagged out sails.

That has me considering possible scenarios. For example, husband and wife out sailing. Husband is the more experienced sailor, wife, not as much. (A very common situation, at least in my circles). Something happens to husband; he goes overboard, or has a medical emergency of some kind. Wife needs to take over the boat, get the sails down etc. With a furling main, she doesn't maintain exactly the right tension on the outhaul and manages to jam the mainsail. Now she has that to contend with on top of the original emergency. With a classic main, she just has to blow the halyard, and maybe go to the mast and pull the luff down.

Another scenario...what if the main rips? Can it still furl? How hard is it to pull a sail out of the furling system at sea when the sail is flogging?

I know, there are all kinds of "what if" scenarios, and odds are they won't happen , but these are things to consider, particularly when industry professionals warn about them.

I'm not saying I would NEVER get in mast furling. If we ever move up to a bigger boat, say 45-50ft, we may very well get it. Indeed I may not have a choice, because they seem pretty ubiquitous on boats that size these days, and by the time we make that upgrade we likely won't be as able-bodied as we are now, and looking for anything to keep us sailing instead of going over to the dark side.

But for now, in my opinion, the risks and disadvantages outweigh the convenience.

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What a great Q, same predicament, thanks to responders both Sides
Do any of the inmast furlers have the ability to drop the main when it is fully out or are they luff tape as in fore sails
When they lock is it comparable to an override on a foresail drum or can you still unfurl
Sailshape truly, will a non battened sail pretend to be an airfoil
Chafe ? Reef points traditionally are overbuilt, is there protection on the luff and foot for chafe
Thanks again great Q
 

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On my last boat, I had two line slab reefing. It worked fine, but I wanted to "upgrade" to a one line system. It was a relatively small boat (O'day 23), so all of the lines ran outside the boom, making the project an easy one. To my surprise, the system didn't work as smoothly as I thought it would. Because of friction, I often had to give a yank on the reefing line at the clew to bring the aft end of the sail down to the boom. I thought this was probably because of the design and position of the blocks I put in rather than a systemic problem. In short, my own fault. In retrospect, I now think differently.

When I bought my "new" boat, it too had a one line reefing system. On this larger boat (Catalina 28), the reefing line runs through the boom (just like a big-boy boat). I was initially surprised to find that I have to do the same thing at the clew with this boat: the friction in the system requires help for the clew to be tensioned. That means giving the line at the aft reef point a good, hard yank down in order to get enough slack in the line to pull the line through the boom. Just too much friction.

I'm going to see if there is a way to make this easier; if not, I may just revert to a two line system. I'd leave the tack end the way it is, with the line leading back to the cockpit. But I may just install a new cheek block and cleat on the aft end of the boom to handle the clew.
 

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Too much friction in a one line slab reefing system plus the inability to tension the tack and the clew separately. My boat has 8 line stoppers on the coach roof of which 4 are used for reefing lines, 1 for the main halyard, one for the, one for the vang, one for the topping lift and one for the outhaul. Works out fine and there was no need to "pick up" 2 line stoppers.
 
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