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.


  1. Hey enjoyed your sailing blog. New to the Island and finished my basic course back in Hamilton, Ontario in 2001. Always said once I moved her it would be time to get a boat. So I think I should take the courses offered out of Charlottetown over the next two years and then what do you recommend in terms of foot hull size for sailing around PEI and Nova Scotia?

  2. Welcome to the Island. I hope you enjoy it here. It really is a great place for sailing.

    If you plan on crossing the Strait, I would think at least a 25 foot vessel would be recommended. Although there are people who cross in smaller vessels, I find that at least mid-20's makes it much more comfortable.

    It also depends on how you like to cruise. If you are weekend sailing, or just planning on going from marina to marina, you can get away with a smaller vessel. If you are like us, where we like to anchor and explore for a few days at a time, a bit larger is more comfortable.

    Obsession is 30 feet, and the two of us find it quite comfortable for our cruises of up to three weeks, with occasional marina stops. We would like to do longer cruises of months at a time, and have discussed how a 35-foot boat would be better suited for longer cruises.

    If you're looking for courses on PEI, check out This is where we took our on-water courses. Ellen is an experienced sailor and is great to learn from. If you aren't familiar with them, CPS Blue Heron Squadron puts on a number of classroom courses each year.

  3. Thanks Jay

    Great info. I am thinking of taking the 5 day intermediate course out of halifax. You get everything from the 5 days including exam and it is all hands on, I learn better that way!

  4. Hands on is definitely the only way to really learn. It was hands on with Ellen's courses too with Waveskills. She even did the Intermmediate course with us on our boat, which was great as we were especially looking for some tips on sail trim for our rig. We had a slight mishap-the near dismasting Jay mentions in this post during our intermediate sailing course. Talk about a hands on lesson in an emergency situation!

    Some sailing schools also offer the intermediate course down in the Carribean too. I know one of the schools out of Nova Scotia does and so does the Ottawa Sailing School.

    Good luck with the courses. See you on the water.