Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New furler

Today is April 28. Only 32 days to May 30, when our boat goes in the water. But three days until it comes out of winter storage, and the preparation for the season begins.

Last year, we made a number of changes to the boat. We restrung some of the wiring and installed new connectors, upgraded our radio, put in new depth sounder and wind instruments, and replaced some components on the furler. This year, the list is much shorter.

On the maintenance side, we have to replace the anchor light which got broken at some point in transit last fall, and a coaxial connection for the radio which corroded. Along with the normal bottom maintenance (which I’ll discuss in a later post) and spring checks and cleaning, that should be about it. The only major upgrade we’re making this year is our jib furler.

Obsession came with an Isofurl jib furling system. This is a one-piece system that does not have a separate headstay – the furler acts as the headstay. At the top and the bottom of the system, there is a bearing assembly that permits the unit to spin, while the attachment to the mast and to the bow area remains steady.

We have experienced two problems with this system. First, when there is a good wind, there is a lot of tension on the unit. This makes it very difficult to furl/unfurl. Often, we can’t even do the furling from the cockpit, but have to go to the bow to get the extra leverage we need to make the unit work. Second, last year we had a near disaster with the unit when the upper bearing assembly jammed. We didn’t realize that instead of the bearing assembly turning, when we unfurled the sail, we were unscrewing the assembly from the mast. After a few minutes of sailing, the bearing assembly let go completely. Since there was no headstay, only the halyards were left to hold the mast in place. Fortunately these held, otherwise we may have lost our mast. We tried replacing the jammed part, but the problems with furling in a good wind still remained.

So, this year, it is being replaced. We have ordered a new headstay and a Harken furler. We will be installing the new unit next week, and are really looking forward to trying it out next month.