In-Mast furling vs. Classic up and down main sail - 2001 C36

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Joined: 10/22/18
Posts: 198
In-Mast furling vs. Classic up and down main sail - 2001 C36

Hello, I am in the search for a C36 here in the northeast.  I have found one that I have walked through and it seems to have everything I want (or thought I wanted).  I have never had a sailboat this large before and have never sailed a boat with in-mast furling.  I am wondering how folks like the in-mast furling, specifically on the 2001 Catalina 36.  In theory is seems to be a great idea, providing the convenience of east up, easy stowing.  Just want to make sure its not more of a pain in the rear than I am bargaining for.  Is it something to look for or something to avoid?  The boat I'm looking at also has a wing keel, so I realize there is already one strike in the performance department.  I sail primarily in buzzards bay, cape and islands, so wing keel will allow me to get in and out of some skinny spots.  

Also, please feel free to let me know if there is anything specifically to watch for as I look at these used boats!  Thanks!  

Please let me know your opinions!

McFly (soon-to-be C36 owner)

Jackfish Girl, 1999, C36 MKII, Tall Rig, Wing Keel, In-mast furling, Monument Beach, Bourne, MA

pkeyser's picture
Joined: 5/18/13
Posts: 498

Have it on our 2005. Love it. Much safer to work the furling and sail stowing from the cockpit vs. traditional set up of running up on the deck. I'm sure there is some performance sacrifice with sail shape, but I don't race so it doesn't matter to me. There is some minor technique  regarding main halyard tension- too tight and the sail can have some diffuculty to deploy. Topping lift can also affect ease of operation- if the boom is out of perpendicular to the mast. (I have a rigid, non adjustable vang, so don't have that issue) Also, when furling, keep tension on the outhaul to insure a tight wrap. A loose wrap can lead to sail creasing and binding in the mast cavity.

Bottom line- to me it's the same as a non furling vs. roller furling jib. Once you had it, you never want to own a boat without.

Paul & Wendy Keyser
"First Light"
Newburyport MA/Rye NH
2005 C36 MKII #2257
Wing, M35B

Joined: 7/27/12
Posts: 253

There's a very good reason you are seeing roller furling mains across all the new boats for all builders, they are ridiculously convenient.

On a run to the Tortugas and it got up to well over 30+ knots.  Never had to leave the cockpit, just kept winching in sail to reef.  That's when you really appreciate your roller furling mainsail as it was nasty out.

I had slab reefing and all the folks I race with have slab reefing - no problem when you have a crew that knows what they are doing.  But it's still more work.  When the come out on my boat, I think it's the Mai Tai's, they can't believe how easy it is to setup, sail and put away my boat.  So, sou can have my furling main sail when you pry it from my dead, cold fingers!  :)

Also have the wing keel, my friends with 5' keels run aground, I do not.  It's perfect for the West Coast of Florida and Keys where the water is skinny.

2000 C36 MKII 1825

Chachere's picture
Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 770

McFly -
     Having never used an in-mast furler, I'm not in a position to give you comparisons.  
     Only from what I've read,FWIW --- and again, with the caveat that I have no experience with it -- my only concerns would be 1) whether one gets as good a sail shape, given the batten issue, and 2) what happens if things go wrong and the sail gets jammed partway (I have no idea if this EVER happens -- but I definitely know what its like when a jib furler gets stuck due to a halyard wrap, having had to climb the mast once at sea to untangle.  Not fun!).   But the other owners here with in-mast furlers and real-life experience may rightly disabuse you of these concerns, and I'd accord their viewpoints far more weight than mine, if I were you. 
      By the way, on our conventional main, we overcame the concern about the need to go forward to reef by setting up all the reefing lines to go to the cockpit, as have some other owners. See . It works out pretty well (although it does mean one ends up with a lot of ropes in the cockpit at times, so I can see the attraction of in-mast furling to avoid the mess!) 
     As to the need for a wing keel in your sailing area: We often sail in the same areas as you list (see image of our tracks in the area this season), and we've never found having a fin keel to be a limitation in terms of thin water (the only possibly tricky place we haven't tried is the entrance toLake Tashoo on the Vinyard, which we're told we should only attempt on a rising tide).  

Matthew Chachère
s/v ¡Que Chévere! #466
1985 C36 MKI tall rig fin keel M25
Homeported in eastern Long Island, NY

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