Furled Too Tight

On a good day a furling headsail is like magic. You pull on the furling line and your sail is neatly rolled away until you need it again. At some point, however, most of us have rolled up our headsail in such high winds that it furls much more tightly than usual and we run out of furling line before the clew of the sail is wrapped away. This leaves a scrap of sail to catch the wind just when you don’t want more windage.

Lots of people think the only way to solve this problem is to unfurl the sail, drop it, and then roll more line on to the furling drum. With many furlers, however, you needn’t unfurl the headsail at all. If you can unbend the end of the furling line from the drum without disassembling it, it’s easy to make adjustments. Just remove the line, manually twist the headsail (with the sheets still attached) until it is completely furled, then reattach the end of the line to the drum. Be careful not to roll up the sail and sheets any more than necessary. Having too much line on the drum may cause it to jump out and bind when the sail is unfurled again.

Photo by Connie McBride

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One comment on “Furled Too Tight

  1. robrichtx

    Don’t forget that many headsails encounter this problem because they were reefed late and under too much tension (often with the aid of a winch).

    When this happens to me, I like to fall off until the wind is over the stern, allowing the main to play all the way out. In this scenario, the main blankets the jib’s airspace, allowing the crew to redeploy and refurl the jib in relatively calm conditions. This will generally alleviate the problem, and it has saved my bacon on more than one occasion during an unexpected gale. The only downside is the need for adequate leeway. The upside is the immediate fix to your problem without sending crew forward on a pitching deck.

    Rob Rich

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