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Really Dumb In-Mast Furling Question


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While I had not considered an in-mast furling main in the past, I looked at a boat with one last weekend. This was a relatively quick visit so I was trying to quickly evaluate the hull, rigging, steering key interior items etc...the boat was on the hard and still had a winter cover. When I asked about water in the bilge, was told it came down the mast because of the furling system.

Is that normal?  I can't imagine owning a boat that continuously allows rainwater inside the mast into the bilge. I aspire to be a dry bilge guy :) and most of the time am successful with my current boat.

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You can and do get water down the mast with almost any keel-stepped mast. On our Hood furling main we had a plate below the circular compartment where the main furled. We still got water coming down through halyard entry ports and the like. If you want a dry bilge best to go with a deck-stepped mast.

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8 minutes ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

If you want a dry bilge best to go with a deck-stepped mast.

OK thanks - you've answered my dumb question. I've had a deck-stepped mast on my coastal cruiser of three decades. But now I'm shopping for a safe offshore boat, with a skeg-hung rudder and keel-stepped mast. Structural strength is more important than a dry bilge.

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15 minutes ago, Israel Hands said:

OK thanks - you've answered my dumb question. I've had a deck-stepped mast on my coastal cruiser of three decades. But now I'm shopping for a safe offshore boat, with a skeg-hung rudder and keel-stepped mast. Structural strength is more important than a dry bilge.

I sailed more than 40,000 trouble-free bluewater miles  with a deck-stepped mast. Any modern round-the-world offshore racer with a semi-rotating mast has it deck-stepped. Sir Francis Chichester's Gipsy Moth IV has a deck-stepped mast.

I had a stainless steel pipe gooseneck-shaped conduit mounted on deck next to the mast to get all the mast wiring through the deck, so we never got a drop of water below via the mast or anything associated with it.

The engineering for both the deck-stepped mast and its support is different than that of a through-stepped mast, but it is not rocket science to do it properly.

Having said that, most conventional larger offshore sailboats have through-stepped masts, and virtually all of those are subject to some leakage into the mast tube through openings and into the bilge. Either that, or they leak around the mast.

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I had a Hinckley with a Hood in-mast furling system. Worked just fine. The small amounts of water that found the bilge were immaterial to our enjoyment of that lovely boat.

The key  is not really the general system, i.e. inmast, inboom, keel-stepped, deck-stepped. The engineering and execution of the system is what matters. Good stuff works well, bad stuff doesn't. The aptitude of the operator makes a difference.

If you are mechanically inclined you can use your judgement to assess suitability and quality of different systems. In most cases, the reputation of the manufacturer can be a useful guide. 

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 Lotsa of water inside of Shere Khan in big rains. 72' keel stepped tall stick, early 90's technology, big slots and lotsa hardware. I gave up on trying to keep that area of the bilge dry after pumping out about 11,482 gallons of rain water in the first year......

FB_IMG_1584553388990.jpg

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Water down the inside of the mast thence into the bilge is a non issue in non-wooden boats. It should never leak down the outside. The Beneteau idea above seems particularly bad. Does damp foam and puddles corrode alloy inside the mast. But maybe (unlikely) they addressed all the issues. The water that puddles in the mast shoes of both deck and keel stepped masts causes enough problems.

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29 minutes ago, notallthere said:

Ignore the water intrusion issue. It's the simple in mast furling shit show that will fuck you at some point...

I hated ours. I also hated the early 2000's version on my friends 48 Mayflower. And I also hated the one on my other friend's 2003 Junneau -'43-fuking-something-or-other. My personal opinion on I.M.F.? Is the same as body lifts and wheel spacers on serious 4x4's. Just. Say. No.......

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5 hours ago, Israel Hands said:

While I had not considered an in-mast furling main in the past, I looked at a boat with one last weekend. This was a relatively quick visit so I was trying to quickly evaluate the hull, rigging, steering key interior items etc...the boat was on the hard and still had a winter cover. When I asked about water in the bilge, was told it came down the mast because of the furling system.

Is that normal?  I can't imagine owning a boat that continuously allows rainwater inside the mast into the bilge. I aspire to be a dry bilge guy :) and most of the time am successful with my current boat.

My mast is deck stepped, so I can't really help you on that one. It's very dry...

But that doesn't make much sense to me, really. I suppose they're talking about the fact that there's a slot through and into the mast instead of a track on it or a shallow groove?

Seems like a savvy mast builder could figure out something to do about that since you don't really need it down below decks.

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4 hours ago, Israel Hands said:
4 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

If you want a dry bilge best to go with a deck-stepped mast.

OK thanks - you've answered my dumb question. I've had a deck-stepped mast on my coastal cruiser of three decades. But now I'm shopping for a safe offshore boat, with a skeg-hung rudder and keel-stepped mast. Structural strength is more important than a dry bilge.

The folks at Hallberg-Rassy do make a fairly strong case that you CAN make a safe offshore boat with a deck stepped mast.

 

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9 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

The folks at Hallberg-Rassy do make a fairly strong case that you CAN make a safe offshore boat with a deck stepped mast.

 

Well, like the chick at Progressive Auto insurance says...It's much cheaper to lose a stick and some wire rigging.....than losing a stick, some wire rigging.....and half of your deck.....

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3 minutes ago, El Mariachi said:

Well, like the chick at Progressive Auto insurance says...It's much cheaper to lose a stick and some wire rigging.....than losing a stick, some wire rigging.....and half of your deck.....

And who needs a giant swizzle stick down below, stirring things up during an already stressful event?

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If your mast has internal halyards and is keel stepped, it will for the most part let some water in through the openings at the sheaves. The next basic issue is that the boot or shoe that the mast sits in has proper unblocked drain holes to the bilge and is accurately stepped so the drain holes can work properly...similar to an anchor well that needs to drain excess water to the bilge. 

As for the in mast furling part? I completely absolutely have no reasonable fucking comment on it. So I won't comment on it.

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My in mast furling system doesn't leak a drop.  Whatever water does come down the mast gets in through the halyard sheaves.  The motor sits under the gooseneck and above it sits a triangle of wood held in place with a pile of 3M 3000 which is great stuff and seriously under appreciated.  Hardly anyone uses it and I have no idea why.

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5 hours ago, fufkin said:

If your mast has internal halyards and is keel stepped, it will for the most part let some water in through the openings at the sheaves. The next basic issue is that the boot or shoe that the mast sits in has proper unblocked drain holes to the bilge and is accurately stepped so the drain holes can work properly...similar to an anchor well that needs to drain excess water to the bilge. 

As for the in mast furling part? I completely absolutely have no reasonable fucking comment on it. So I won't comment on it.

It's like the Hindenburg......or the Titantic. They both looked good on paper.....

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11 hours ago, longy said:

Beneteau (and others) use an expanding foam plug inside the tube (with drain hole) to prevent water getting below decks

This is fine for a number of years after the boat is new. Over time such plug efforts eventually fail and some water gets in - ask me how I know.

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Water will make its way into any boat to a certain extent,  especially at sea, but aren't we kind of hashing out getting pissed that the soaking-wet cat that brought a rattlesnake in the house is dripping water on the floor? THERE'S A RATTLESNAKE IN THE HOUSE! In-mast roller furling main-type rattlesnake in the house. Prolly gonna bite on a lee shore 

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22 hours ago, El Mariachi said:

I hated ours. I also hated the early 2000's version on my friends 48 Mayflower. And I also hated the one on my other friend's 2003 Junneau -'43-fuking-something-or-other. My personal opinion on I.M.F.? Is the same as body lifts and wheel spacers on serious 4x4's. Just. Say. No.......

Loved the Hood IMF on our Bristol 45.5. We did about 40,000 nm with it. Great piece of kit. I wonder if all varieties of IMF are not created equal - no reason why they should be of course.

 A final thought about water getting in, a proper sump means the water has somewhere to go and where the bilge pump can handle it, with a little left of course. Our sump was under the engine and out of sight.

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9 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Loved the Hood IMF on our Bristol 45.5. We did about 40,000 nm with it. Great piece of kit. I wonder if all varieties of IMF are not created equal - no reason why they should be of course.

 A final thought about water getting in, a proper sump means the water has somewhere to go and where the bilge pump can handle it, with a little left of course. Our sump was under the engine and out of sight.

The boat I was looking at has a Hood IMF. 

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36 minutes ago, Israel Hands said:

The boat I was looking at has a Hood IMF. 

Seemed to be a pretty bullet-proof system to me. They are all pretty old but simple and stout. Only problem is you are at a dock is that the slot can really howl if the wind is at a particular angle, say 130° from the bow. Talked to a marine yard manager in RI who got a noise violation fine from the town when he had two boats with Hoods next to each other. When we were at a dock in NYC before heading out we used something generally called a 'flute-stopper'. This is a piece of sail close about 5" wide with large buttons attached every 18" or so. This was hoisted up with the cloth in the slot and the buttons out on a masthead burgee halyard. It worked perfectly and took about five minutes to put up and 15 seconds to take down once you figured out how to do it. Any sailmaker could make one.

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On 4/5/2021 at 4:21 PM, Israel Hands said:

While I had not considered an in-mast furling main in the past, I looked at a boat with one last weekend. This was a relatively quick visit so I was trying to quickly evaluate the hull, rigging, steering key interior items etc...the boat was on the hard and still had a winter cover. When I asked about water in the bilge, was told it came down the mast because of the furling system.

Is that normal?  I can't imagine owning a boat that continuously allows rainwater inside the mast into the bilge. I aspire to be a dry bilge guy :) and most of the time am successful with my current boat.

In the beautiful sunny PNW?  Someone said “a keel stepped mast is stronger” during our design phase, and I gravely nodded, hoping to look knowledgeable, and everybody looked happy that I was an experienced yachtsman.  20 years later, and balloons, rubber dams, putty etc. will not stop rain water from the bilge.  Our bilge is about 8” deep, so twice a week, minimum, I’m down using a Turkey baster, and many different sized sponges and a black soft bucket keeping things under control.  The floorboards have never floated!  I assume the bilge pumps work, but I have to take other peoples word for that.  On the other hand, our bilge has received awards for cleanliness.....  

And mast is strong, like tractor!

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On 4/7/2021 at 5:49 AM, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Seemed to be a pretty bullet-proof system to me. They are all pretty old but simple and stout. Only problem is you are at a dock is that the slot can really howl if the wind is at a particular angle, say 130° from the bow. Talked to a marine yard manager in RI who got a noise violation fine from the town when he had two boats with Hoods next to each other. When we were at a dock in NYC before heading out we used something generally called a 'flute-stopper'. This is a piece of sail close about 5" wide with large buttons attached every 18" or so. This was hoisted up with the cloth in the slot and the buttons out on a masthead burgee halyard. It worked perfectly and took about five minutes to put up and 15 seconds to take down once you figured out how to do it. Any sailmaker could make one.

Somewhere in Google Land or Youtubia I've got a semi-short video I took a bit before & and a bit after Hurricane John rolled right over the top of us in the marina in La Paz (BCS) back in '06. Thankfully we (I) had enough forewarning about this fuker heading our way so that I could fly in from Hell-A and pre-prep & babysit our boat. Dropping the mizzen main and stuffing it down below was quick and ez and a no brainer. Adding eleven additional dock lines was pretty much the same (17 in total if I recall?) But the main sail had me a bit concerned. So I had a dock buddy give me a hand to re-stuff the main into the mast as far as we could and make it disappear. Looked good on paper and she stayed put....but in retrospect, the next morning I realized that having even just an extra 100 lbs. of Dacron sail stuffed in an aluminum tube, way above sea level, in 120 mph winds.....was not the best career move I've ever made. It may have cut down on the noise level a bit....but being surrounded by 30 other boats, pieces of corrugated sheet metal and plywood flying over head from the neighboring soccer field and hotel, the 90 foot power boat on the end tie ripping the dock away and drifting into the jetty.....and the Macaws that got literally blown out of their cages.....more than made up for it.....:lol:

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_John_(2006)

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