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Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:51 pm
by BrightStar
I will be replacing my sails for next season and thinking about fitting a behind mast reefing system for the main. As I am changing the sail now is the time to thnk about a furler

Does anyone have experiences, good or bad with these systems, different manufacturer's etc.

I usually sail single handed and the boat is a Griffon


Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:15 pm
by Uncle Albert
My Centaur was fitted with TAB in mast reefing additions and I luv it.
Whilst folks are teetering about undoing sail ties and sail covers and connecting halyards then winching said sail up mast I just loosen the main sheet, release the furling line clutch and pull on the out haul and I am off. Even better putting it away.

Reefing also is a doddle.

So the down side. Sail jams!!. Now those 'purists will tell you that they jam all the time and at the most inopportune time. They will jam but it will be your fault for not ensuring the halyard tension is proper (not too much) and that you do not maintain a correct angle of the boom to facilitate neat stowage, all things you will learn by experience.

Of course if you listen to Dylan Winter (and his flat Eric(?) he reckons you cant set a in mast furler properly. I do not have any issues and am quite happy with my Centaur's performance including the issue of more weight aloft.

Go for it


Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:12 pm
by TyroSailor
Well! Uncle Albert! I am shocked :o I thought you were a staunch traditionalist, like me!

My opinion (from a complete lack of experience of this gear, and therefore mere prejudice) has always been that I wouldn't touch it with the longest spar I could lay my hands on. Why?

1. In order to reel it up properly the sail has to be dead flat. Who wants a dead flat sail in any but the strongest winds (when the best place to be is in the bar or at home with your feet up)? It can't possibly be efficient in light to moderate winds (which we have nearly all the time) without a belly and a roach.
2. What do you do when the sail is fully unwound, the wind pipes up, you need to reef - and as you start to reel it in, something jams?
3. The extra weight aloft, even when reefed
4. It looks horrible.

Having got that off my chest, I can now report that at the Boat Show yesterday, I put these ponts to a salesman/demonstrator on a boat with this gear. He answered point 1 by pointing out that the sail is loose-footed, so it does have some fullness....but so, I should have said, but didn't, are many conventional sails. And to point 2 he replied that you have the same problem if you try to slab reef and the halyard jams - and (ditto) there's less to go wrong with a halyard, so it's less likely to jam.

I'm not convinced, but maybe I should have a day sailing with it to decide. What does everybody else think?

Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:46 pm
by Jolly Roger
In the past I have had experience with a furling main fitted as standard equipent on a 43ft yacht. Yes it is easy, but it can jam. The mainsail had a hollow roach, so was considerably smaller than a conventional main. You can get vertical battens to add a roach, but see the next paragraph.

I also know of an owner who had a retro fit furler and his new mainsail, when rolled, was too big to completely fit, so 2 foot of the clew remained out when furled.

Use slab reefing and a stack pack, its a lot cheaper and virtually nothing to go wrong. That is what I use on my Fulmar and all I have to do is remove the front cover and unzip the stack pack (the main haliyard is permanently fixed to the head) and hoist. Once dropped all I have to do is zip up the stack pack and fit the front cover.

For a Griffin I feel a furling main is an expense not worth paying for and at a loss of sailing performance.

Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:07 pm
by Uncle Albert
Well! Uncle Albert! I am shocked :o I thought you were a staunch traditionalist, like me!

Congratulation TyroSailor you are the first person ever to commend me in that way. :lol:

The truth of the matter is that being in my 60s I always look for the easy way so that the sailing is a pleasure. Lets face it's a Centaur, it will never go as fast as say my friends Seawolf with its nice new sails, but you know what, I don't really care. Don't get me wrong I will always try and get the best out of the boat and sails when on a trip but I cannot get excited about 1/2 - 3/4 of a knot the in mast sail loses me. Anyway its the 130 % genoa that provides most of the power when the wind is forward of the beam (as it always seems to be :) )

On balance having sailed a few other yachts 17ft - 45ft I would rather have the convenience of in mast compared to slab or other reefing/stowage methods.

I respond to some of the points raised by others if I can here.

As for jamming it has happened to me once in 8 years of owning Aries and that was because I over tightened the halyard which in turn over loaded the bearings at top and bottom which then made the load to great for the reefing line (and me) to overcome. So its not the design its the skipper).

The clew on mine has a UV sacrificial panel and leaves about 18 inches on show, this can help weather cock the boat in winds to face the waves when anchored or on a mooring making it slightly more comfortable.

I know there are fors and agins as this subject has been thrashed to death in YBW a number of times. Its horses for courses and if it suits you probably will not go back to the purist way.

All done ........ Doesn't really help[ messrs Brightstar though does it?


CR1702 Aries of Lincoln

Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:43 am
by Vegable
I have an Oceanranger with in-mast reefing supplied from new in 1994. I've had the boat for four years and the previous owner had her for 18 years. In my 4 years I've sailed her over 4500 miles in winds up to F8, and raced her twice in a local week series of races.
I love the reefing system. All the lines go back to the cockpit and when you think "should I reef?" you've done it. I've NEVER had the sail jam on me when reefing. If the sail's going to jam it jams when UNfurling, not reefing! What happens is if you don't get the furling right, the sail creases as it goes in to the mast and then gets stuck as it comes out. However on the furling drum on the mast there is a slot for the winch handle and a turn of that soon releases the jam.
When racing, because of the flatter (not flat) cut of the sail, I notice I don't point as close to the wind as racing yachts. I can sail about as close as 50 degrees to the wind. But I'm a cruising sailor out to enjoy sailing and being out on the water. If I wanted to race seriously I'd buy "black" sails. As it is when passage planning I use 6.5 kts as my average, and the boat regularly sails at 7 to 7.5 knots in about 14knots of wind.
As for the additional weight aloft, wander round a marina and spot the radome, the Firdell Blipper (probably full of water!) the TV aerial etc., etc all added to the top of the mast without a moments thought of disturbing the stability of the boat. I hardly think a few rolls of sail is going to make that much difference. I have the lot! and Conspiracy still sails as just off the vertical.
With reference to the OP, if you are just pottering about day sailing then no, I'd suggest that you stick to a fully battened main with lazy jacks and slab reefing. And spend the rest of your budget taking the lines back to the cockpit. If you plan to do things a bit more adventurous and some distance cruising, then go for in-mast reefing.
My previous boat, a Westerly Renown which I had for about 16 years, had a fully battened main and lazy jacks and slab reefing, all operated at the mast and I wouldn't go back to it.

Re: Behind mast reefing systems

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:14 am
by BrightStar
Some very helpful comments all, thank you. It raises another couple of questions about reefing but I will start a new thread