Steve, Sea Dog, #184
I have had this Schaeffer unit for 3 years and have been very pleased. I had a new genny made for it and strongly recommend you do the same. The price difference between new and recut is not enough, in my opinion, to warrant taking that approach. Tim is also right about it's appearance in that it is a very attractive unit. Unlike a lot of other furlers that are cut "Aerodynamically" the Schaeffer unit is a pure cylinder of burnished stainless. The cylindrical (sp?) shape makes the furling motion very easy, especially during those first few turns, and it's probably easier on the sail as well. Unless you are used to sailing 35 knots I think the sacrifice you make in aerodynamics is worth it. I got mine from the Rigging Loft in New Bedford at a sailboat show and they through in the stanchion fairlead blocks for free. They also included a custom video they made that shows how to install it, and it must be good because even I didn't screw it up. You might find a similarly good deal buying one at a boatshow.
Tim Lackey, Glissando
New furling systems are highly engineered and essentially eliminate the previous problems with jamming and breakage, provided they are properly set up. Over the years, they have been continually improved as to be nearly failsafe. They're not perfect, but neither is anything else. The horror stories you have heard are likely associated with older units which did have some significant problems.
You can modify an old sail, but will get better results with a new sail specifically designed for the furler. All sailmakers now offer sails for this purpose, and they are worth the investment. Depending on how old your "old" sail is, it may or may not even be worth the cost to do the modification, but your sailmaker knows best in this area. The biggest difference comes when you partially roll the sail--the new sails are somewhat better at maintaining a decent shape. Still, count on only being able to reef about 30% of the area of the sail before it becomes hopelessly misshapen.
My experience is that, for the daysailer and cruiser, there is not really an appreciable difference in pointing ability and general sailing ability with roller furling. All other things being equal, I'm sure a boat with a deck sweeping genoa will point a few degrees higher, but not enough to make a noticeable difference unless racing. Again, here's where a new sail for the system might pay off, since the cut takes the higher foot, etc. into account.
I just bought a Schaeffer 1100 system for my Triton, but I won't install it till spring. I decided on this system after much research--it is a really nice looking rig--I have it in my garage--and seems to address the problem areas of earlier furlers, and has been well thought out. People I know with the Schaefer say that it is an excellent, smooth system. The Harken system is also excellent, but I thought it looked too modern for a Triton. I've heard mixed reports about the Profurl, although they have been used by many round-the-world single hand racers with good results. www.schaefer.comwww.harken.com www.profurlusa.com I don't know much about Furlex, other than the fact that it seems to be the last holdout of the older types with closed drums--the other major brands use open drums to allow access to the furling line.
I have a CDI furler on my Ensign, and it is a very simple, inexpensive rig that works well for that purpose. They make sizes for boats up to around 35' and have a great warranty. It is a lightweight, light duty unit that may or may not suit your needs. www.sailcdi.com
In my opinion, roller furling is great, and I wouldn't sail without it. I really like the convenience factor. There are, of course, arguments against it, and it really depends on your outlook and individual needs. However, if you're inclined to go with it, I don't think you'd be disappointed in the performance.
Dana Berube, #99, JADE
My Triton has a ProFurl (came with the boat- a few years old)... my previous boat, an O'Day 22, with a 135% Genoa, had a Harken unit. After using both, I functionally I prefer the Harken. The Harken is a lot more money- but worked smoother (furling and unfurling) for me and it was much easier (for me) to raise and lower sails single-handed. The slotted foil seemed to work more smoothly. Oddly enough, the size difference between the headsails of both boats was not that much different- due to the 22 being a masthead rig.
I find the ProFurl shackles to be small and fussy to work with - a pair of needle nose pliers are required (the shackle end is recessed into the furler mechanism). On the Harken the shackles were external and easy to manipulate by hand.
The ProFurl shackle itself inserts into the body of the mechanism. It's a tight fit. I haven't figured out yet if the shackle is proprietary or standard. In the event of dropping it overboard- I hope it is standard.
The drum seems a bit small on the unit installed on my boat. The 5/16" line pretty much fills it slam full when spooled up.
I can only speak from my experience, newer ProFurl units may be different.
The previous owner of the O'Day put it rather succinctly- "It was my wife's job to go forward and change jibs, after she almost fell overboard- twice- we bought the furler".
I had my local sailmaker convert a good condition hank-on 100% jib to roller furling for around $150 (the Jib was useless prior to conversion). I primarily use a 150% Genoa and it works great.
Frankly, I wouldn't want to own a sailboat without a furler.
Gary and Brenda, Protege
Brenda and I bought Protege with Pro-Furl reefing and love it. It has a continuous loop of reefing line back to the cockpit so we "never" have to go up front if conditions are bad. It has never jammed. Only one of Proteges sails could be used with the furler so we had the other two sails changed over for about $250 Canadian (the 100% and the 170%). Any loft can do the job. The biggest negative is in our inability to change sails quickly to get the best performance when we race. Furling the sail up when racing really drops the performnce so don't do it if you plan to race and furl. Our furler is old (15 years). There are much better systems out there now with very narow foils and you can hoist a different sail before droping the existing sail. Go to a good loft and they will provide the best advice. As for us since we do so much cruising between races, I am happy having furling. A purist racer would not use one since the foil, especially the older foils disturb the leading edge too much. The newer foils may actually have an advantage to hanked sails. Any comments on that statement out there. I don't have the sientific proof on that one.
Ray Alsup, Pegasus, #256
I installed a CDI roller furling on my previous trailerable boat at the insistence of my wife (she didn't like me changing head sails when sailing alone on SF Bay.) I put it off for some time but in the end she won (as they always do ;-) I have enjoy it ever since. The CDI rig is bullet proof and simple to install. Although I selected it because it was easy to remove while trailing the boat I have since installed it on Pegasus.
I decided on CDI after talking to several furler companies at the SF Boat Show. After talking to the various manufactures rep's I met Jim Grant, the owner of Sailrite who gave me a little more to think about. Some advise he provided after understanding my sailing needs (basically cruising): 1. If you have an older sail and are handy, recut it yourself; you will learn a lot about sails and it is very simple and cost effective (about $80 for a Triton using their kit.) The Sailrite kit is very complete with material and instructions. 2. Do not use Sunbrella as a UV protector if your boat is under 40'. Its just too heavy for a small leech to support (there is other material that can be used. They also sale socks for them however he said I could buy the material and make my own for half the price.) 3. If you need a new head sail anyway, have it designed and built for your boat, and sailing requirements by a local sail maker that is familiar with sailing conditions in your area and; 4. The more you roll your sail up, the less efficient it will be so don't plan on rolling a 150 to a 110 and think it will point well to weather.
We traded in the hanked-on genoa for a roller furling set up last year when we first bought our Triton. The changeover ran about $1300 and included fitting the existing genoa to the roller furler. Prior to our Triton we had the same set up on a Catalina 22. I don't know what's been lost in the change over from fixed, but the self furling setup makes life so much easier. You can unfurl as much or as little as you want (reefing?) without ever leaving the tiller. Definately worth the investment.
WE like our roller jib furling. We had one jam up experience on the third use, from an old piece of cable getting wrapped into the head or top end. Mysterious, actually. The only lesson- leave a clean set up up top.
Rob Squire, Head Over Heels, #96
I had a CDI furler on Head over Heels. It was the older model of the Flexible Furler with an aluminum extrusion. It worked well. It was the looped line version rather than the drum type furler. After malfunctions on charter boats with the drum types, I came to prefer the single looped line as there is nothing to bind. I have yet to have a problem with this arrangement. My only grief with the CDI unit was the internal halyard. The concept is okay, but I felt the 1/4 inch line was light and stretchy for the 130 on the boat and the bay winds. Also, the only way to adjust the halyard tension is to go forward to the base of the forestay and uncleat the halyard, adjust as required, then recleat. It works better to loosen than to tighten, and all in all was a little cumbersome under way. The good part is that the price is right. I moved to a Hood Sea Furl. It's heavier duty, single loop line furling, and upper bearing for halyard attachment. The Sea Furl is a very competent unit that is priced right.
only lesson- leave a clean set up up top.
Jim Hart, #369
I have a Norvane on my Triton. I've had it for 3 years or so. I have a Monitor on my Ranger 33. It's ( the Norvane) more trouble free than the Monitor. It costs half as much as the Monitor. It has fewer parts that are just another place for a problem. I was able to use it 90% of the time from Berkley to La Paz Baja Sur, most of the time it was dead down wind which is the hardest place for a wind vane to work.
Go to the Norvane website, they have a picture of a Triton installation and it looks just like mine. It's a no problem installation which s something you can't say about the Monitor
Daniel McNeil, Evadne, #301
I have a Furlex furler (Swedish make) that has worked very well for me the last 2 seasons. I liked it best since it was very user friendly to install and has a good reputation for good customer service. I had a new headsail made for the furler so don't have an opinion re new vs old, recut, sails. Many people recommend new sails since they are made specifically for furling.