An in-boom furling system will literally change the way you sail.  Sure, it’s a big-ticket item, but the investment will pay handsomely with increased safety, ease of sailing, greater efficiency and a load of other surprising advantages.

Imagine hoisting and lowering the main, reefing the sail, and packing it away, from the comfort of the cockpit. *   Sounds too good to be true, right?  

Well, it’s a reality with an in-boom furler, which is exactly as it sounds – a furling sail encased within a specifically designed boom, controlled by either electric winches or a motor attached to the boom.

Yes, it’s an expensive option.  However, its popularity is increasing with new and second-hand yacht owners – be it yachties who cruise in-shore or off-shore, sail one or two up or even for families who want to keep things safe, simple and easy.  The benefits are hard to resist and of course the bigger the boat the more it makes sense.

EFFORTLESS AND SAFE REEFING:

It’s so easy to get that perfect reef from the cockpit without manually struggling with the sail.  There’s an infinite number of reef heights and if you stop at a batten the sail will hold in its flattest possible position – no bellying out.   

Windcraft boat owner, Charles Smith, Hanse 415 ‘Bling Bling’, says, ‘I can reef from the cockpit with the electric winch at any point.  Rather than having one or two reef points like a traditional sail I can now reef anywhere down the sail providing I line up near a batten. It’s so safe and easy to reef in rough conditions and heavy air’.

A SAFE OPTION

Choosing an in-boom furling system was all about safety for Windcraft boat owner, Murray Kellam.  He had a scary experience on his Moody 41 ‘Wollemai’ while sailing single handed. He says, ‘I was offshore one day in a sloppy sea and the sail wouldn’t go back into the bag, so I had to go up on deck and I slipped and fell. I decided then and there I wasn’t going to do that anymore, it was just too dangerous especially sailing one up’.

Murray now has a Leisure Furl in-boom system and his partner Margo feels a lot more secure knowing it’s only a matter of dropping the main with the electric winch from the cockpit if something goes wrong.

SAIL SHAPING

Reshaping the sails when going from light to heavy weather is a breeze with an in-boom furler.  

Robert Orr, Service Manager Windcraft says, ‘shaping a sail with an in-boom furler is superior than with an in-mast furler.  There have been great strides in sail design and batten construction in the last 10 years. Sail makers are now producing sails for in-boom with almost the equivalent performance of a traditional sail’.

NO MORE STRUGGLING WITH SAIL BAGS

We have all had arguments with our main sail trying to force it inside its cover.  It can be frustrating and time consuming, not to mention dangerous, especially in bad weather.  

Packing up the sail with an in-boom furler is super convenient and stress free. The sail automatically folds down to sit neatly inside the boom and a separate cover is pulled over the top by control lines.

Rob says, ‘an in-boom furler looks a lot neater.  Having the sail rolled inside the boom and not flaked into a canvas bag makes a big difference to the aesthetics of any yacht, especially when it’s a wet day – no soggy sail cover, just a nice tidy boom.  And no more cheeky swallows making a cosy nest’.

 

WINDCRAFT BOAT OWNER TESTIMONIES

Charles and Sylvia Smith, Hanse 415 ‘Bling Bling’:

‘This system gives my wife and I more longevity to sail due to safer positioning in the boat. There is no running around which really helps as we age.  It’s made sailing more enjoyable and I even had 3Di carbon racing sails made so the boat performs very well.   

We sail offshore, mainly from Port Stephens to Sydney – for pleasure and for the Windcraft Port Stephens Sail Away and the in-boom furler ensures a safer passage.

It wasn’t cheap, but we are extremely happy.  I had to make a conscious decision to spend the money but once I got over the expense I have never looked back.  In fact, if I bought a new yacht tomorrow, I would want another one.’

Bob Lye, Hanse 370 ‘Viva La Vita’:

‘I chose this system because I was finding it difficult to reach my traditional boom.  It was too high to pack the mainsail away, so I only used a furling headsail until the installation of my in-boom furler 2.5 years ago.  I can now use my mainsail and my wife loves it because everything is done via a switch in the cockpit.

The in-boom system is a lot safer and easier to use compared to an in-mast furler.  If something goes wrong with the main it will still drop whereas an in-mast sail can cause all sorts of problems if stuck.

The benefits have outweighed the money spent and I would do the same again.’

 

TECHNICALITIES AND INSTALLATION

Once you decide on a furling boom, Windcraft Service coordinates rig specifications and logistics (freight, customs clearance and berthing requirements for installation) with the boom supplier, rigger and relevant sail maker.

The traditional boom is taken off and replaced with your choice of an aluminium or carbon furling boom which depends on the size of the boat and how much you want to spend.  As a guide aluminium booms are less expensive but heavier than the equivalent carbon version and can be specified to a maximum of approximately 6 mtrs E dimension.  Carbon fibre, being much lighter, is best for 6 mtrs and over.

The sails are designed by the sailmaker in close coordination with the boom manufacturer as they must be fitted with bolt ropes and other features to suit the furling mandrill and special mast track supplied with the boom.

 

SAIL HANDLING

It can be tricky to learn how to use all the features of an in-boom furling system but there are people to show you the ropes.   

Rob says, ‘the rigger who installs the boom and the sail maker who has made the new main sail test that everything is working properly once installed.  This is when the proud new owner will get instruction on use – a shake down sail as it were. Once you have a method it’s easy and efficient’.

IS IT FOR YOU?   

There are a few things to consider when deciding on an in-boom furling system:

  • The expense versus the benefits.  
  • Will it suit your sailing style and usage?
  • Is it the best set up for your yacht in comparison to an in-mast system?

Robert Orr from Windcraft is experienced in-boom furling systems and would be happy to chat to you if you have any questions.

* Although some of these advantages also apply to in-mast furling, this blog has concentrated on in-boom furling. For a previous post on in-mast furling click here