Roller and In mast furling....any good for blue water?

jollysailor17

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I have been looking for a new boat and I have seen one that I like, except for one thing, it has a roller jib and in mast furling for the loose footed main. I know nothing about this type of reefing, being used to hank on headsails and slab reefing.
Would I be right in thinking that in storm conditions, it would be necessary to take the jib off the foil and lash that part of the main that exits the mast, to the mast and boom, so the wind could not pull it out, in order to lie ahull or when towing a drogue or lying to a parachute?
Iif anyone has had experience of this type of system for blue water sailing I would value your comments.
 

snowleopard

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You'd be hard pressed to find a long distance cruiser using hank-on headsails these days. Roller headsails are here to stay and well proven. In-mast mains are gaining ground but are still a minority for two reasons - they seldom set as well as a slab-reefed sail but more importantly they can jam leaving you unable to get them in or out, a very dangerous situation if they can't be furled in heavy weather.

It is not necessary to lash them in bad weather in fact the biggest advantage of these rigs is the ability to control the sails down to the tiniest scrap without ever leaving the cockpit.

A heavily-reefed foresail isn't much good with the wind ahead of the beam. Alternatives are a storm jib set up on a removable inner stay or better still a furling staysail made in heavier cloth so it can be set in just about any conditions.

I've sailed a couple of thousand miles under an all-furling cutter rig and loved the convenience but my first choice is still a furling foresail and a slab-reefed main with stackpack/lazyjacks.
 

E39mad

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Neither should need dropping in a storm if their systems are working properly as they should not unravel.

Headsail reefing is more common than mainsail and the systems and sail cuts are generally very good these days - when rolling it up ensure that there is room for at least another 3 or 4 turns of the drum to wrap the sheets around - do this with tension when furling.

Personally I am not a fan of inmast reefing - not because it goes wrong - like anything it can but shouldn't if properly maintained. I don't lack the loss of sail shape, sail area and horizontal battens + there is more weight aloft with these systems. I have sailed the Atlantic with both inmast furling and headsail roller furling without issue.

The beauty of these systems is that you should not need to leave the safety of the cockpit to reef/unreef or loose all sail

There will be more comments soon I'm sure with differing opinions.
 

Tranona

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Headsail furling is almost universal now, although many long distance sailors fit a removable inner forestay for a storm jib. Furling mainsails are increasingly popular because people appreciate their flexibility and ease of handling and accept the (minor) loss in performance. The test in long distance sailing is the distance covered in time, not the ultimate speed and arguably the ability to easily adjust the sail area to the prevailing conditions compensates for the marginal loss in outright speed.
 

mandlmaunder

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Most long distance sailors are short handed, couples or families with children , so anything that makes for easier sail handling is a big plus.

We have a furling head sail and fully battened main (stack pack and jacks), but if our cat had come with a furling main it would not have been a minus.

If over all speed is less important than ease of sailing then all furling is the way to go.

We have hove to with our head sail almost all wrapped and no main at all and been quite comfortable, so no need to deploy the 'para anchor' that has never seen the light of day since I packed it and all its lines in a locker.

Furling gear does jam occasionally, but then all things boat will let you down once in a while even with diligent maintenance so you pays your many and watches it depreciate what ever you do.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and why.

Mark
 

KellysEye

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Roller furling genoas ar fine as long as they have foam in the luff to keep the shape when reducing sail area. I wouldn't touch inmast furling for two reasons. The flat shape doesn't give much drive annd they do jam. We had one jam on a fifty footer racing in Antigua. In boom furling is a whole different ballgame - normal shape and battens no problem.
 

Taffy

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In mast furling

My in-mast furling system has a ratchet on the base of the furling mechanism so that it can be set to either run freely in/out, or latched so that the sail can only be wound in.

Can´t wait for summer !
 

prv

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At the end of the day it's a judgement call, based on your own priorities which may differ from other people's. I don't think anyone here has additional concrete information, just a different view of the same facts.

Personally, I wouldn't have in-mast furling for long-range cruising - I've used it on charter boats and there's no doubt it's handy, but for me it's a compromise too far. Roller-reefing headsails I wouldn't object to - it's somewhat more proven technology, and the alternative has more disadvantages than with a mainsail.

My ideal boat though would probably have a hank-on staysail with a downhaul, and for jibs a Wykeham-Martin on a bowsprit traveller and a few spare bearing sets in the focsle. But my preference in boats is not quite the norm :)

Pete
 

mike_bryon

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“You'd be hard pressed to find a long distance cruiser using hank-on headsails these days”

It’s not that unusual especially on bigger yachts (obviously not super yachts). We still hank-on headsails and carry a total of 9 from ghoster to storm jib. I’ve sailed ocean with rolling headsails and have no problem with it but worry about how many go offshore with just the one headsail (plus storm sail). I would want a backup headsail of some sort.
 

prv

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Have you not noticed how many round the world racer types have roller furler jibs? Almost none use hanked on sails

Round the world racers don't share all the requirements of long-term cruisers. For example, if something non-trivial breaks then they're out of the race, and how long (and how much money) it takes to fix it is more or less irrelevant. Whereas a cruiser whose gear can be repaired by an Elbonian fishing-boat welder can get moving again much more quickly and cheaply than one whose rig cannot possibly work without a specially cast and machined Halberg-Rassy doohickey in size 3B, which won't arrive for three weeks, at a post office 6 hours' bus ride away, with customs officials who require high fees and even higher bribes before they'll release it.

Pete
 

E39mad

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The racers tend to have two or three roller headsails all for differing wind conditions/angles and sometimes an inner staysail on a furler. Quicker to furl up a No 3 size jib and unfurl a large genoa or code 0 when for instance the wind drops.

As for blue water sailing - a trusted and sometimes prefered set up is twin poled out headsails for downwind. This will require either a twin groove foil on the furler and a 2nd halyard or a seperate forestay that can be attached to the mast when not is use and attached to the stem with a hanked on headsail when in use. With this system the main is usually but always left unused.

Yankee cut headsails mean that the clew is generally always level no matter how much sail you have out and therefore little pole moving is required.
 
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Tranona

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Pete

Thats a very old fashioned view! Roller rigs are pretty much idiot proof now and almost universal (at least for forestays). Also the density of sailing in most parts of the world is such that getting things fixed is not the problem it was. If you read all the surveys and accounts of problems when cruising they are almost always related to domestic gear and particularly electrics and elecronics rather than mechanical systems.

Furling sails are no longer "new technology" having been around for over 30 years and well over 50% of new boats are fitted with in mast furling. Despite its alleged superiority, in boom furling has failed to catch on except in certain small niches. Many manufacturers have tried it and nearly all have failed, which suggests it is not the good idea some people think it is.

In my experience in mast furling is a bit like oysters - horrible until you have tried them! For a cruising boat I would not go back to a "conventional" sail, although I recognise the small loss in ultimate performance, the flexibility and ease of use more than compensates.
 

E39mad

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If I was speccing a new boat instead of in-mast furling I would spend the money on a ball bearing car track put up the mast with 3/4 length battens in the main and a lazyjack/stackpack system and single line reefing. It's amazing how easy they are to reef even with some pressure on the sail!
 

mike_bryon

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“In my experience in mast furling is a bit like oysters”
I sailed an Oyster with in mast furling on a 2½ thousand Nmile trip and it gave us serious indigestion. Admittedly, it was an old, very tired system.
Few new boats are sold for blue water, which is the issue under discussion, so the number sold with in mast furling is an aside.
 

prv

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Furling sails are no longer "new technology" having been around for over 30 years

For headsails I agree with you - I said I would have no problem with those. The preference for staysails and Wykeham-Martins was down to my preferred (yes, old-fashioned) style of boat rather than a dislike of conventional roller-reefing genoas.

In my experience in mast furling is a bit like oysters - horrible until you have tried them!

But I have tried them. Not long-term, admittedly, but I've done a number of two-week charters (Med and Caribbean) and a delivery trip (Baltic) on boats with roller mains. I still wouldn't have one on a long-term cruising boat I was speccing for myself.

Unlike headsails, they still seem to be a bit finicky - look at the thread near the top of the PBO forum right now! They also, as I said earlier, aren't solving such a big problem. Roller headsails are ubiquitous because the alternative is wrestling with an acre of cloth on a pitching foredeck - the alternative to a roller main is slab reefing, perhaps with lazyjacks and a stackpack, and unless you have a ratty old friction-ridden bodge of a setup, that ought to be very nearly as easy to use.

Pete
 

Tranona

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Few new boats are sold for blue water, which is the issue under discussion, so the number sold with in mast furling is an aside.

I suggest you have a look at the entry for the ARC. Of course some will say that is not true "blue water" but it is indicative of the way the market is going.

You are right in one way - many of the boats that people use for long term liveaboards and ocean cruising do not have in mast furling, but I would suggest this is more because they are old and built before in mast was fully developed. If you go back a generation you will find that part of the "market" dominated by old wooden boats, often derived from working designs complete with gaff rigs, tan sails etc. Not because they were the most suitable, but because that was what was available and affordable. Currently 70's-90's GRP production boats are popular for the same reasons - available and affordable. The next generation will be using AWBs complete with in mast furling, Saildrives, fin keels, spade rudders and all the other modern features for the same reasons.

Called progress!
 

mike_bryon

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“The next generation will be using AWBs complete with in mast furling, Saildrives, fin keels, spade rudders and all the other modern features for the same reasons”
I agree Tranona a sizable majority will but that doesn’t make them best suited for the job and it doesn't necessary make it progress. Blue water changes people, some curtail their plans others extend them. Better to leave with the capacity to accommodate most eventualities. 100’s of todays AWB's will do a milk round/ARC with only a few ‘retiring’ with major problems, within reason they will do long term blue water cruising. But now that the Red Sea route is closed some crews need a boat capable of at least one of the major Capes. That might be an ask one too many for some features of the current AWB.
Fair winds
 

vyv_cox

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Leros, Dodecanese. Not blue water of course but plenty of long distance cruisers there. It took the yard more than an hour to get this mainsail free, involving a good deal of hammering, man in the harness throughout. They told me they average two per week throughout the season.

The main cause seems to be furling when not head to wind. The leech sags and becomes doubled in the slot.
 
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