Question: I’m refining the deck layout on the 41' voyaging boat I'm fitting out from bare hull. She will be sailed as a sloop, but fitted with an inner forestay for heavy weather. I am currently weighing the benefits of keeping that sail on a furling unit versus hanking it on to a removable stay. As she will be sailed shorthanded and pointed away from the equator, I like the safety and flexibility of having the sail ready to go on a furler, but worry about the problems of tacking the genoa through the 5' slot between headstay and inner stay when sailing in normal to light conditions. I am wondering what your experience is with this, and how you balanced the equation.
Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
by John HarriesReading Time: 2 minutes
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On my boat, a heavy displacement 36ft cutter, that I sail single handed or with one crew, I have a removable inner forestay, on which I hank on the staysail or the storm jib. This system is very secure, nothing to jam etc. In my opinion, this is far more important than being able to furl a staysail. The thought of trying to fit a storm jib to a furler, when you really need it i.e. in high winds and seas, frightens me. In light conditions, I move the inner forstay, and the bagged staysail to a tang on the port side deck. I can then easily tack the genoa. Incidently, I also have a trysail, on a separate dedicated track, bagged on deck. In 17 years of voyaging, I have seldom needed these systems, but when I have, they have proved invaluable.
Sounds like we are on the same page since your boat would fit into our recommended size for removable stays and hank on staysails. On boats the size of ours—probably about twice the weight and sail area—things change and, at least for us, the advantages of having both sails on roller furlers outweigh the disadvantages. More on that here.
Like you, we have a storm trysail ready to go at all times.
Youi will learn how to swing the bow over and pull like hell to get the sail through the slot. Sometimes the wind does it for you 1st time and it’s like winning the lottery. Yeah sometimes it just doesn’t go thru, or so it seems, so you adjust and learn (to circle, so the wind does the work.)
We have been tacking in this way for over 20 years and I can’t remember a time where it has caused us any problems.
i am in the process of a DIY standing rigging project. My headsail furler is original equipment on my Nordic 44, a Harken MK I or II. The picture of yours looks identical. It has always been a hard pull. I have cleaned out the upper swivel bearings and washed out the lowers as well and both units spin freely and well. I recall reading that you had yours rebuilt twice. What was rebuilt? My concern is that the foil links or those parts that rotate around the forestay, may be worn out. I haven’t taken them apart as I understand Harken no longer supports the old furler I have. So, did you replace the connectors in your foil? Your thoughts will help me decide what to do while the mast is out. I have really enjoyed my subscription and refer to your books often. Thank you.
I don’t think the issue is the foil links, even if they were worn, and ours are not significantly after many miles and years, that would not add much friction.
The problem is more likely to be the bearings and races. They may spin freely by hand, but under load they can still impart a lot of friction due to flats and imperfections from wear. First thing to try is One Drop lubricant: https://www.morganscloud.com/2018/07/25/5-great-rigging-hacks/
If that does not fix it the bearings need a refurbishing. I had mine done by Harken, but that was some years ago and they may not offer that service any more for older units.
So if neither of the above work, it’s probably time for replacement.