Often, particularly in inclement weather
(although it will be a primary objective aboard Sister
to avoid bad weather), it's a pain in the butt and somewhat dangerous
to have to get out of the cockpit and onto the foredeck to manage
the sails. Managing the sails, in this case, means to reduce or
increase their effective size or even to remove them altogether,
according to changes in the weather.
In many boats both the jib (the foresail)
and the mainsail must be raised and lowered by hand which, in
a strong breeze and/or rough seas can be perilous. For some twenty
years now it has been common for cruising sailboats to sport a
furling system for the foresail (the "jib").
Rather than slide up and down the forestay, the jib wraps (or
furls) about an assembly which includes the forestay. To set the
jib one must simply unwrap it from the furling system. To strike
the sail means that you wrap it back up again. Finally, to reef
the jib, which means to partially set it, you simply unwrap a
portion of the sail.
to read more about the furling jib.
There have been furling systems for mainsails
available for years as well. For various reasons, probably mostly
because the early systems were somewhat unreliable, Mainsail furling
systems haven't caught on nearly to the extent that jib furling
systems have. Recently significant improvements have been made
in these furling systems. Given these improvements, the obvious
safety advantage in not having to go on deck to handle the main
and, a small lazy factor, we decided to have a self furling mainsail
system installed on Sister. Check it out.