Preventing furling line chafe
The other day I read an account of a crew that had their boat’s genoa furling line chafe through twice during a long and windy passage. My assumption is that they had been running with the genoa reefed (partially furled) for a period of time, as there would be little stress on the line when the sail is either all the way in, or all the way out. To tell the truth, we had this exact same thing happen to us one night. On a related note, why do problems always occur in the dark???
I’ve considered this situation because the furling line on Frost is one of the few on the boat that we don’t yet have a spare for. Our genoa furling line also a bit special. It is largely made up of 6mm Dyneema, but has a length of normal double braid spliced onto it to make the line easier to work with by hand, and control via a winch. The small diameter Dyneema fits onto the furling drum nicely, and it’s super strong. Anything can chafe though if it is subjected to a sharp edge.
If you look closely you can see both the double braid on the winch, and the small diameter Dyneema in the background. The spliced area is hidden by the winch.
The small diameter line fits on the furling drum nicely.
So, aside from carrying a spare, which by the law of the sea pretty much guarantees that we’d never have a problem with it, what else could we do to prevent an issue when operating with the genoa reefed? Having the line chafe through in a blow, letting the furled portion of the sail unravel, is not something that I’d prefer to have happen (again).
Well, for starters, we could inspect the entire furling system, and make sure that every spot that the line touches is smooth. I wonder if there’s anything else that could be done though. For example, if you knew that you were going to be running with a reef for a long time, what if the load on the furling line was taken up by another small line, attached by a rolling hitch close to the drum? It could be rigged so that there are no points to chafe on, and it would be sacrificial in a sense that, if it did chafe through, it would be no big drama to replace it, and the load would automatically be taken up by the furling line which is still cleated, and in tact. Of course, rigging something like this would require going to the bow to set and remove it, and given that you’re running with the headsail reefed, we’d have to assume that it’s blowing. That may not be the time when you want to be messing around up on the bow. Your thoughts and experiences?
I’ve never actually done this. Just brainstorming this morning.