In boom reefing

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I have read Tom Cunliffe’s article “Don’t dismiss in boom reefing” in Yachting Monthly, of March this year. I have also read Practical Sailor’s “In boom furling” February 2011, see it here http://www.practical-sailor.com/news/boom-furling-systems-7036-1.html

How many sailors are there using these modern systems and how well to they work? I would like to read of practical experiences of modern systems. Anyone?
George
 

muyuu

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They jam. I've had both in-mast and in-boom jam on me and when that happens it's because you NEED to reef. Happened even to Ben Ainslie's Rita and I'm sure it's not a cheap one he has.

Sail shape is also rubbish, which should be enough to discard it for anything other than cruisers. Then again even for a cruiser I'd stay away because of my negative experiences.

There's a cruiser-racer for sale that I'd buy if not for the stupid in-mast furler her last owner installed. You have a boat were compromises were taken for speed (low headroom, deep fin, etc) and then he decided to ruin all of that by installing a furling main with a longer boom.
 

Tranona

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I have read Tom Cunliffe’s article “Don’t dismiss in boom reefing” in Yachting Monthly, of March this year. I have also read Practical Sailor’s “In boom furling” February 2011, see it here http://www.practical-sailor.com/news/boom-furling-systems-7036-1.html

How many sailors are there using these modern systems and how well to they work? I would like to read of practical experiences of modern systems. Anyone?
George

They do have plus points and have proved popular on big custom built boats where they can stand the complexity and be powered by electric or hydrauilcs. These tend to be custom made and owners seem to value the better sail shape than in mast furling. However, they have made little impression in smaller boats or as original equipment. The early designs were prone to jamming because of the difficulty of keeping the mandrel straight and the luff under tension when furling. They are very sensitive to getting the right angle to the wind and angle of the boom to get a trouble free furl.

Perhaps the reason why they have not caught on is the success of in mast furling which is now well proven and chosen by up to 50% of new cruising boat buyers, who value the convenience and are prepared to lose the last bit of performance from the sail shape. The loss is for most people who buy it, very small, although detractors (who mostly have never owned a boat with it fitted) tend to exaggerate both this and the risk of jamming.

So, new boat buyers faced are offered two alternatives - a well designed single line reefing system or an in mast - difficult to see a gap that could be filled by in boom. That leaves a replacement or retrofit market where it is difficult to persuade people to part with significant sums of money for a new boom, new sail and controls. This could be in the region of £8-10k for 40' boat, which is the sort of size where there might be some benefit.

Good idea in principle, but lack of development to overcome the underlying negative aspects and high cost having limited its penetration in the market. That might change if a mass production builder took it on but for the reasons stated above it is difficult to see why they would bother.
 

JumbleDuck

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Indeed I do! You read my mind ...

They do have plus points and have proved popular on big custom built boats where they can stand the complexity and be powered by electric or hydrauilcs. These tend to be custom made and owners seem to value the better sail shape than in mast furling. However, they have made little impression in smaller boats or as original equipment. The early designs were prone to jamming because of the difficulty of keeping the mandrel straight and the luff under tension when furling. They are very sensitive to getting the right angle to the wind and angle of the boom to get a trouble free furl.

I'm mildly surprised that round-the-boom systems seem to have disappeared, as they avoid all the problems of a narrow slot and restricted room for the roll. I suppose it's the kicking strap problem which scuppers them. Still, my last boat had Proctor spars with round-the-boom reefing which - kicking strap aside - worked very well and very easily.
 

Tranona

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Indeed I do! You read my mind ...



I'm mildly surprised that round-the-boom systems seem to have disappeared, as they avoid all the problems of a narrow slot and restricted room for the roll. I suppose it's the kicking strap problem which scuppers them. Still, my last boat had Proctor spars with round-the-boom reefing which - kicking strap aside - worked very well and very easily.

Big downside of that, which I still have the gear on my Eventide although also converted to slab, is boom droop which is a real nuisance both for sail shape and when the boat has a low boom anyway. Had tapered battens to increase the diameter of the boom aft, but then I bought a new main and converted to single line slab which works well and with all lines led back to the cockpit is easy to work - although nowhere near as convenient as In mast on the Bavaria.
 

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Jumbleduck,

a chum when new to sailing a few years ago bought a good late model Centaur.

While he has had the sense to sort out the slab reefing to a very handy set-up - I've been with him when we needed it - the boat still has the round the boom system, which we've agreed seems well worth keeping.

My Carter 30, despite being a fairly performance oriented boat, had round the boom reefing; I suppose just a matter of her early 80's vintage.

Strangely, despite the boat having been raced a lot, I remember having to invest in a reefing claw for the kicker; it was like a piece of alloy sculpture, maybe the previous owner felt the same and kept his to hang on a wall or something !

The sail set quite well when reefed, but I was mindful it might not be any use if really reefed down to the eyebrows in a hoolie.

If I'd kept the boat ( had her 4 years ) I'd have fitted a new main with a slab set-up.

I realise the tempation when faced with sailing a big - say 45' plus - boat short-handed, but one doesn't have to be a sailing god to take one look at in-mast or in-boom reefing and think ' that way disaster lays ' !
 

JumbleDuck

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Big downside of that, which I still have the gear on my Eventide although also converted to slab, is boom droop which is a real nuisance both for sail shape and when the boat has a low boom anyway. Had tapered battens to increase the diameter of the boom aft, but then I bought a new main and converted to single line slab which works well and with all lines led back to the cockpit is easy to work - although nowhere near as convenient as In mast on the Bavaria.

How do in-boom systems get round the droop issue? Different cut to the sails or do they do something cunning with a tapered mandrel?

While he has had the sense to sort out the slab reefing to a very handy set-up - I've been with him when we needed it - the boat still has the round the boom system, which we've agreed seems well worth keeping.

My wee Westerly had the halyards by the companionway, so I could reef by standing on the top step and winching with one hand while easing the halyard with some body friction if I had to hang on. It was a lovely secure-feeling way of doing things, particularly when I was on my own. Now I have slab reefing which is all done from the mast. It's pretty straightforward, but a bit exposed feeling. Sail sets well, though. I actually had slab reefing points put into the Westerly main, but never got round to fitting the strings and hook. Like your pal, I was going to keep the roller as well, just in case.
 

Tranona

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How do in-boom systems get round the droop issue? Different cut to the sails or do they do something cunning with a tapered mandrel?
They use fully battened sails with the battens parallel to the mandrel and a rigid vang to keep the boom at just less than 90 degrees when reefing, although the vang can be used as a kicker if needed. Some systems have an automatic retention by wire so that when you release the vang it sets the boom at the correct angle for reefing. Also suggested that best to reef to a batten as the batten acts as an outhaul to keep the foot taut.

Google in boom reefing and all the types available in UK are there. Also an interesting review article in Practical Sailor of 5 systems available in the US. in addition to commentary on each of them in use there is a good discussion on the pros and cons - particularly the latter and how manufacturers have tried to overcome them. When you read that you will realise why they are not more popular, not helped by hardware costs for even a modest size boat of between $7-12k plus sail, controls and installation. My estimate above is perhaps on the low side.
 

Tranona

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I realise the tempation when faced with sailing a big - say 45' plus - boat short-handed, but one doesn't have to be a sailing god to take one look at in-mast or in-boom reefing and think ' that way disaster lays ' !

I am sure the thousands of people happily sailing all round the world with such systems will disagree with you. Perhaps you should try it sometimes before voicing an opinion on something you clearly have no experience of.
 

Tranona

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Perhaps you should try studying terms like ' engineering, ' ' seamanshp ' and ' common sense ' before voicing your useless opinion at all.

No. You need to get out a bit more and see what is happening in the big wide world rather than pontificating from a chair.

Or are you saying that the clever people who design and make this gear know nothing about engineering. The people who use it successfully completing voyages you can only dream about are lacking in seamanship and commonsense?
 

Seajet

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I have ' been out in the big wide world ' plenty ta; enough to know a liability when I see it.

People have travelled thousands of miles on lots of unseaworthy things, I seem to recall one did it in a rubbish skip ( probably converted to some degree ).

It's a shame you don't have the all too rare ' common ' sense but that's your problem not mine.
 

JumbleDuck

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When you read that you will realise why they are not more popular, not helped by hardware costs for even a modest size boat of between $7-12k plus sail, controls and installation.

Eek. Total cost of the old system: crank thingy, mainsheet swivel thingy, claw thingy for the keen. How much, typically, does in-mast add to the price of a new boat?
 

Seajet

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In-mast reefing ( from new, not add-on ) must add almost as much to a boat's price as it does to her centre of gravity, but probably decreases her value as a previous poster mentioned.

Certainly if I was looking for big boats it would be a serious turn-off.

Dunno the actual £ cost, but lots and it means a sail of no use to man nor beast if one ditches the system in favour of sensible reefing ! :)
 

jordanbasset

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See there has been a little thread drift but while we are on the subject having had in mast furling on my last boat, which worked very well and made 'reefing' very easy, with no hassle, I would opt for similar system in preference for slab reefing on my next boat, but for me it would not be a deal breaker. However my wife is adamant she wants inmast reefing, she really liked it, the ease of use and convenience made it a 'no brainer' for her. We did have one jam early in our ownership of the boat, but that was all down for me and poor technigue. It did not cause any major issues and was soon sorted out, but we never had one since.
So for us no matter how good a yacht is if it has slab reefing we will not be buying it, our next boat will have to have inmast furling.
 
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Paragon

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For what it's worth, having been faced with replacing an 18m mast lately due to transport damage, the cost of the mast alone is just over £9k and this includes in-mast furling but no boom, vang, pole, winch, or anything else attached to the mast! So essentially an aluminium tube & spreaders, oh it does come with a new base and deck collar for that :)
 

dom

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I can see the attraction of these contraptions for those who don't like the hollow leech over-flat sails required by in-mast systems. The reason is that over about 45' a regular fully battened system becomes a handful; one has to climb up to the gooseneck to attach the main halyard/fit the sail cover and even zipping the bag up can require dropping the boom and then a few chimpanzee climbing antics.

The downside is that because of their history these contraptions now put the fear of god into most sailors, which combined with their complexity/cost for now restricts them to biggish budget boats crewed by peeps who back themselves to sort out a jam/engineering failure should one occur halfway across the pond!
 

muyuu

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I can see the attraction of these contraptions for those who don't like the hollow leech over-flat sails required by in-mast systems. The reason is that over about 45' a regular fully battened system becomes a handful; one has to climb up to the gooseneck to attach the main halyard/fit the sail cover and even zipping the bag up can require dropping the boom and then a few chimpanzee climbing antics.

The downside is that because of their history these contraptions now put the fear of god into most sailors, which combined with their complexity/cost for now restricts them to biggish budget boats crewed by peeps who back themselves to sort out a jam/engineering failure should one occur halfway across the pond!

That's why boats that big used to have ketch or schooner rigs. I'd much rather deal with these forces if something goes wrong.
 
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