The Hard Road to Convenient Sailhandling
Installing a roller furler is a simple path to Easy Street, provided you avoid the pitfalls along the way. "Hands-On Sailor" from our April 2009 issue
A major breakthrough occurred at last year's Newport Folk Festival, and it wasn't of the musical sort. While rock-and-roll luminary Levon Helm was belting it out on stage, I was nearby singing the praises of sailing with roller furling.
The festival takes place at Fort Adams, near the mouth of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, where pleasure boats of all shapes and sizes vie for prime anchoring spots within earshot of the main stage. As I entered the crowd of boats on AO, Cruising World's motor-less Albin 26, I prepared my unwitting crewmates for the possibility of catastrophe. Up to now, the process of anchoring involved a hasty dousing of the genoa followed by a clumsy foredeck ballet involving trying not to slip on the headsail while giving the anchor the old heave-ho. With 20,000 spectators, this was sure to be the day I'd tumble into the drink with anchor in hand.
But it wasn't, because we had that new roller furler installed. When we found our spot among the revelers, I simply pulled the furling line, watched the headsail wrap cleanly around the headstay, and strolled up to the bare foredeck to nudge the anchor overboard. Easy as spreading out a blanket on the lawn.
Months before, when we were deciding what type of roller furler to add to AO, the Schaefer Marine Snapfurl CF-700 stood out as a logical choice, not merely because Schaefer had agreed to donate the unit for the purpose of our hands-on story but because the CF-700 is intended for a modest-sized sailboat. Designed for smaller boats-with headstays measuring less that 38 feet long-the CF-700 is compact, reliable, and relatively simple to install. Ideally, you simply snap the plastic foil over your existing headstay, slide the furling drum into position, and raise the headsail.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy.
Still, the project is well within the abilities of a fairly handy sailor with access to two extra sets of hands-in my case, these hands were supplied by CW senior editor Mark Pillsbury and Steve Majkut, Schaefer's marketing director. The job also requires a few tools: a screwdriver, cordless drill, wrench, hacksaw, tape measure, wire snips, and a bosun's chair.