Main furler

I returned to the boat tonight kind of late after catching Salt (great movie) and was doing some chores on deck when I noticed the mainsail looked a bit weird.  The sail furls onto a jib-style furler against the mast (not into the mast); it’s a pretty weird retrofitted setup.  You can see it in some of the pictures from when I first bought the boat.

Anyway, apparently the furling line had come loose and the sail had unfurled a bit and was flapping, because someone had (kindly) tried to wrap it all back up, and then grabbed one of my snubber lines from the foredeck, climbed a third of the way up the mast, attached the snubber to a cable, and then snaked it around the sail all the way down to keep it lashed.

It took me a while to make sense of everything; then I ended up climbing up the mast to detach the lash (nice view, even from just 1/3 of the way up), completely unfurling the sail, restringing the furling lines, and refurling it.  Some takeaways:

  • Having steps on the mast sure is nice.  However, it does make it tempting to climb up kind of unsafely.  I wasn’t too high up today, but I wouldn’t be comfortable going any higher without my climbing harness and a belayer; and I wouldn’t even be comfortable going up that high if the weather wasn’t really calm.
  • I really, really dislike the furling system for the mainsail.  Unfortunately getting rid of it isn’t going to be all that easy; but it’s certainly doable.  Before I do any really serious cruising I think it’s necessary.
  • The main halyard is cinched really tight, but it does appear the sail is down a few feet from the top of the mast.  I think this must have happened early in the trip down from Langkawi; I remember the sail was noticeably lower on the furler even the first time we refurled the sails.  I’m not sure if the main halyard is stuck, or there’s something else going on up there to prevent me from raising the sail fully.  I think I’ll probably have to go all the way up to find out.  Time to find someone to belay.  (I’d like to take a look at the masthead anyway.)
  • I can’t trust the clutch cleats at the cockpit end of the furling system, at least not for the main furling line, which apparently is what came loose.  I’m now backing that one up with a horn cleat.

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