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US-Spars Mast Furling Main on Beneteau 343, Check the Halyard Tension

Oct 10, 2013
31
Beneteau 343 San Diego
Over the years, and worsening in the last year, my mast furling main became increasingly harder and harder to furl and unfurl. Like minor pains, one gets used to the inconvenience and adapts until it reaches a crisis stage. It got to the point that I could neither unfurl, nor furl with out the need of the winch and serious effort on the winch handle. I finally realized there was a problem.

I went to the US-Spars website and did a bit of research on maintenance and discovered that the bearings should be hosed off while furling/unfurling and then lubed with WD-40, which I had not done, ever, so I did. No joy. The problem persisted.

Then I watched some videos on their website which showed how the sail is supposed to unfurl and furl with just minimal effort on the lines and no use of the winch. I was sure that I was in for a massive repair expense and would need to drop the main, remove the furling drum and send it in for service. Thankfully, one of their videos shared that if there was a (pre)bend in the mast, possibly put there by a rigger inexperienced with mast furling mains, that would be a potential problem. Sure enough, when I looked up the mast, it was bent to aft.

I called the rigger that had last tuned my boat, wondering if he had done that and if he could come over an have a look. He is not an inexperienced rigger, and is in fact the guy who rigs all of the new Beneteaus and Jeneaus when they are delivered off of the truck. He said it would be quite a while before he could come have a look because he was involved in several new projects. He thought about it and said that there are quite a few things that could interfere with the furling, but suggested that the main halyard might be too tight. I said that I had never changed the halyard tension since I had bought the boat over 6 years ago. He then told me that the halyards tend to shrink over time due to "particulates", which I found incredulous.

Well, my next visit to the boat, I found that the main halyard, above the locking jam was about half the size of the line below it. I let off about 1 1/2 to 2 inches and miraculously the mast bend disappeared. I was then able to furl and unfurl again with almost no effort. Who'd a thought. I owe my rigger a nice bottle of his preference.
I hope this helps someone with a similar problem.
 
Aug 27, 2014
83
Beneteau 373 San Diego
Great tip. I have noticed my main getting harder to furl over time. Like you I NEVER touch my halyards. Ever. It's been 3 yrs since my rig was set up, so it will be interesting if I have the beginnings of your problem, especially since I'm in SD too. I'll be checking this out next outing. Thanks!!
 
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Likes: joyof10
Oct 10, 2013
31
Beneteau 343 San Diego
Please let me know your experience. My boat is TANGENT. If you let me know the name of yours, I'll look out for you on the bay and ocean.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,293
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Thanks for the reminder to check the halyard. I would have thought that it loosened over time because of stretch. Mine is manageable; however, I need the winch to furl and unfurl. I really need to rework the furling system; including cleaning the furler bearings and lubricating, as well as replace the furling outhaul line. The turning blocks at the mast base are showing their 14 years and I am sure there is excess friction there. Also original sail, so I am sure there is a degree of sag also.
 

ToddS

.
Sep 11, 2017
198
Beneteau 373 Cape Cod
Over the years, and worsening in the last year, my mast furling main became increasingly harder and harder to furl and unfurl. Like minor pains, one gets used to the inconvenience and adapts until it reaches a crisis stage. It got to the point that I could neither unfurl, nor furl with out the need of the winch and serious effort on the winch handle. I finally realized there was a problem.

I went to the US-Spars website and did a bit of research on maintenance and discovered that the bearings should be hosed off while furling/unfurling and then lubed with WD-40, which I had not done, ever, so I did. No joy. The problem persisted.

Then I watched some videos on their website which showed how the sail is supposed to unfurl and furl with just minimal effort on the lines and no use of the winch. I was sure that I was in for a massive repair expense and would need to drop the main, remove the furling drum and send it in for service. Thankfully, one of their videos shared that if there was a (pre)bend in the mast, possibly put there by a rigger inexperienced with mast furling mains, that would be a potential problem. Sure enough, when I looked up the mast, it was bent to aft.

I called the rigger that had last tuned my boat, wondering if he had done that and if he could come over an have a look. He is not an inexperienced rigger, and is in fact the guy who rigs all of the new Beneteaus and Jeneaus when they are delivered off of the truck. He said it would be quite a while before he could come have a look because he was involved in several new projects. He thought about it and said that there are quite a few things that could interfere with the furling, but suggested that the main halyard might be too tight. I said that I had never changed the halyard tension since I had bought the boat over 6 years ago. He then told me that the halyards tend to shrink over time due to "particulates", which I found incredulous.

Well, my next visit to the boat, I found that the main halyard, above the locking jam was about half the size of the line below it. I let off about 1 1/2 to 2 inches and miraculously the mast bend disappeared. I was then able to furl and unfurl again with almost no effort. Who'd a thought. I owe my rigger a nice bottle of his preference.
I hope this helps someone with a similar problem.
I'm confused... Your halyard tension was causing the mast bend? I have a difficult to furl main on my 373, and also have a little mast bend from the previous owner... so maybe that's contributing to my problem... but I don't understand how the main halyard would cause the mast to bend. I take my mainsail off every fall for hauling, and then replace each spring for launching (here in the snowy northeastern USA) so the shrinking problem probably isn't my cause... though I DO tend to put lots of tension on the main halyard when installing each spring... I should note how that impacts my furling next spring....
 
Jan 10, 2018
148
Beneteau 331 Halifax
I guess I am old school, I just don't understand why anyone would want in mast furling. What's the big deal with raising and lowering a mainsail? It's part and parcel of sailing! There is a litany of stories of issues and problems. It's so easy with a "traditional main". It must be customer demand driving this, because these have to be more expensive systems than the alternative. I have found out that it is far better to have fewer moving parts when it comes to mechanical things. My 2 cents worth!
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,293
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
I guess I am old school, I just don't understand why anyone would want in mast furling.
If I were crossing oceans, conventional main would be my choice. For coastal work, in mast furling is much more convenient. Literally takes a one minute or less to unfurl/furl. No sail covers, no jammed zippers, no sail ties, no working on deck, and no folding the damned sail. Infinite number of reef points and much more desirable when single handing. Disadvantages for sure, you have to know how to use it properly, have to maintain, and of course, the sail area and shape is less desirable for racing. I have had conventional main on first boat and in mast on present boat; I personally wouldn’t go back.
 
Jan 22, 2008
7,269
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
I guess I am old school, I just don't understand why anyone would want in mast furling. What's the big deal with raising and lowering a mainsail? I have found out that it is far better to have fewer moving parts when it comes to mechanical things. My 2 cents worth!
So, does your car have stick shift or an automatic tranmission?
 
Jan 10, 2018
148
Beneteau 331 Halifax
Not remotely comparable my good man. I, nor anyone else, has to worry about an automatic transmission breaking down as often as in mast furling does.
 

ToddS

.
Sep 11, 2017
198
Beneteau 373 Cape Cod
If I were crossing oceans, conventional main would be my choice. For coastal work, in mast furling is much more convenient. Literally takes a one minute or less to unfurl/furl. No sail covers, no jammed zippers, no sail ties, no working on deck, and no folding the damned sail. Infinite number of reef points and much more desirable when single handing. Disadvantages for sure, you have to know how to use it properly, have to maintain, and of course, the sail area and shape is less desirable for racing. I have had conventional main on first boat and in mast on present boat; I personally wouldn’t go back.
To each his own, and I certainly understand that there are pros and cons to both... but I agree with BigEasy on this one... not for racing or circumnavigating, but for quick day sails, and coastal cruising, I've owned both... and would never go back to a traditional main. I've only had a sail get "stuck" once, halfway-open... and it was a car getting stuck on the track of my TRADITIONAL main. And with my traditional main, I would often go for "lazy" sails using only my roller-furling genoa, leaving the mainsail covered... again... not going to win races that way, but with a couple young kids running around the deck, and cockpit, it was often just too much "overhead" to use the mainsail... uncovering, untying, raising, folding, recovering, etc... I do have complaints about my roller furling main, but I'd never go back unless it was on a racer, or a smaller boat...
 
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Jan 10, 2018
148
Beneteau 331 Halifax
Fair enough! I am on my 11th sailboat (started at age 12) with a traditional main, and don't see a need for a change!
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,293
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Fair enough! I am on my 11th sailboat (started at age 12) with a traditional main, and don't see a need for a change!
No right or wrong here; that’s why most manufacturers offer both.
Stick to the option that you like!
I did have an in mast mainsail jamb on a charter boat, a Beneteau 331 or 343. Tried to unfurl and I could only unfurl appx 1/3. Had to return to charter base for help. The previous charterer did a crappy job of furling, resulting in a jamb when I tried to unfurl. As I mentioned, you have to know how to operate it for it to work properly.
 
Mar 20, 2016
295
Beneteau 351 WYC Whitby
I've had both and would never go back , I unplug the boat and go, electric winch the outhaul and furling and have unlimited reefing. No bag , ties ,lazy jacks to deal with, flaking of sail . As long as you understand how to unfurl and furl and keep cars , sheaves and ropes in top shape there are no problems . As the boat ages these things must be maintained. As I age I like things to get easier and take less time ,who knows how long we have.
 
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DougM

.
Jul 24, 2005
1,780
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
So, does your car have stick shift or an automatic tranmission?
Hey Ron,
The stick shift is the latest innovation in theft deterrence...younger car thieves have no clue as to how they work, so they walk away.