Furling jibs present a great opportunity to use adjustable fairheads, since lead positions change as the sail is rolled up.
Taming the Soggy Beast
Wrestled with any Dacron monsters on the foredeck recently? Battling to control a slippery headsail can be a real workout, as slick folds of hanked-on sailcloth threaten to come to life with each wave and each gust of wind. You know that if you lose this battle the sail will get drenched and will need to be dried out before it is flaked, rolled and stowed away in the cabin.
It can be a struggle to pull an ungainly sail on deck, bend it on, possibly have to change to a smaller headsail if the wind comes up, unbend it, and figure out how to fold it properly alone, or with inexperienced guests. It’s frustrating enough to force us to cruise the harbor under power, or to dink around with only the main up!
Which Headsail Today?
Do you hate to have too many choices? One dilemma that faces many sailors is which one of the several bagged headsails to lug up on deck today. If the wind is just a faint rustle you’re tempted to break out the big genoa, but what if you’re expecting the breeze to kick up later? These head-scratching conundrums often cause us to compromise with the small-size sail, and our non-sailing guests ask us if the boat is always this slow.
Set Up For Easy Sailing
There’s a better way. Roller furling helps boost the sailing fun factor more than just about any upgrade you can make. Roller furling allows you to spend less time folding or changing sails and more time sailing. We all have limited amounts of time and energy, and many of us often go out sailing short-handed, or like the peace and serenity of singlehanding our boats. Lugging a genoa up on deck, hanking it onto the headstay and rigging the sheets is just one added chore, but every task adds a little to the time and effort needed to get on the water. If you’re considering a furler, perhaps your spouse has yelled at you once too often. Keep the crew happy and make foredeck work easier.
Wide Open Spaces
Look at this uncluttered foredeck. One easy pull on the furling line gives a clean foredeck for handling the anchor or snagging the mooring. No more awkward dance as you try not to slip on the soggy headsail.
Control of Speed
Reefing not only allows you to control your boat speed and heel, it also can provide much greater visibility when approaching a congested area. Entering the harbor or picking up a mooring, you can keep the jib drawing to maintain your speed and maneuverability, and then simply reef and douse with an ease of the sheet and a quick hand pull on the furling line.
If you’re good at do-it-yourself rigging projects, installing a furler is a weekend task that the average boat owner can handle. Most Harken and Schaefer furlers are designed for owner-installation. See our online West Advisor and Do-It-Yourself guide for all the details on how to choose and install your unit. Work with your local rigger if you are in doubt concerning your rigging skills.
What To Measure
To shop for a furler you should know your headstay diameter, whether wire or rod, overall length (pin-to-pin measurement), and clevis pin diameter. If you are replacing or adding a furler, plan to replace your headstay. It holds your mast up, and you’re getting ready to put a system over it that makes it virtually impossible to inspect for wear or failure. A few hundred dollars for new wire will seem like pennies if you’re stuck with a catastrophic failure while cruising.
What You Need to Add
Most manufacturers include everything needed for installation, but you may have to buy furling line, line hardware and a headstay terminal separately. Some furling units will require you to cut your headstay while others will use your existing stay with no modifications necessary. You may also need a halyard restrainer, which keeps the halyard from wrapping around the forestay, or a toggle or link plate at the base to raise the unit clear of a windlass or bow pulpit. Make sure to order the necessary terminals or kits to complete installation.
Your sail may need to be modified to work with your new furler. You can convert your jib by having a qualified sailmaker sew in a luff wire or bolt rope, but you may be much happier if you spring for a new, properly designed headsail that will keep its shape when fully or partially deployed. Sailmakers have steadily improved their furling sail design, resulting in very durable genoas that have great shape when fully unrolled or partially deployed. Some include a small piece of foam sewn into the luff of the sail just aft of the furling extrusion, allowing the sail to roll up more smoothly. Some sails have tri-radial construction so that they look better over a wider range of deployment, or use fabrics which shrug off UV radiation without a large blue leech cover. Talk to your sailmaker about which furler you are buying and how you intend to use it.
Now Go Sailing!