You would be amazed at the number of skippers who, when discovering their roller reefing headsail is not running freely, resort to brute strength and sadly ignorance! One of the most frequent causes of dismasting is genoa halyard wrap. This can be caused by a number of factors, however, if you have trouble getting your reefing headsail in and out STOP and first of all look up. Maybe use your binoculars to get a clearer picture or use a digital camera (on zoom) to help ascertain what the issue is. Whatever you do, don’t put the line onto a winch and grind away cos the forestay wire will bird-cage, possibly fail and then the mast comes tumbling down! It may be difficult due to the sea and wind state but once you are safely clipped on try and get the sail down by easing halyard tension; this may well do the trick. The reason I mention digital camera on zoom is that you can often see what’s happening up aloft once safely back in your marina berth.
Bird-caging caused by halyard wrap
To prevent halyard wrap, you need to make sure that the foil is full length on the forestay as per the manufactures recommendation and the top swivel is almost to the top of the foil. If the sail is short in the hoist either use a strop at the tack or have us or another sailmaker remove the old luff tape and sew on a longer tape that moves the swivel to the top of the foil. If no halyard diverter is fitted perhaps consider one, my personal choice is to go for a diverter fitted to the mast as against the disc type on the forestay. Make sure, of course, you have sufficient tension in the backstay, thus keeping the forestay/foil from sagging.
If the problem isn't up aloft, check for an issue on the drum. Is there a riding turn on the control line, if not perhaps one of the lead blocks has seized and the line has worn a flat on the sheave? To prevent a riding turn on the drum, our recommendation is, when pulling the sail out always maintain tension on the line, either by hand or if short handed the excellent Harken Stanchion ratchet block can be used. When furling or when you are finished for the day, once again keep tension, this time on the sheets. For replacement lead blocks there are excellent bits of kit on the market, like the Schaefer ‘Clear Step’ Block which routes the furling line outboard of the stanchions or the Harken furling lead kit. Other good but lower tech blocks to consider are the Barton and Seasure ones. For relatively straight runs on larger yachts the Spinlock Stanchion blocks and eyes are a well made reasonably priced lead.
THIS WEEKS OFFER :
For today and right up to midnight on Monday the 5th May 2014 we are offering at least 10% OFF all furling lead blocks.