SAIL - - March 2018 Vol 49, Issue 3 - By Dick Everitt

What to do if your roller head­sail starts giv­ing you grief


If a roller head­sail jams and won’t come down, try hoist­ing lines on a hal­yard and wrap them around the sail. Or re­place the sheets with a short line, lock the drum and mo­tor in cir­cles, let­ting it flap back around the foil.


If it will un­roll com­pletely, go on a beam reach to keep the flog­ging can­vas away from the deck and drop the sail. In high winds, some peo­ple copy Fran­cis Chich­ester and dump it in the sea—then haul it in with the sheet.


C The hal­yard can wrap around the foil and jam it if the hal­yard an­gle is too shal­low and the top swivel is too low down on the foil.


D To in­crease the hal­yard an­gle, some peo­ple rig a wire pen­nant above or be­low the sail to raise the top swivel up the foil.


Or they add a hal­yard di­verter, fixed to the mast.


Also check that other hal­yards don’t in­ter­fere with the foil or top bear­ing. On some sys­tems you can add a large-di­am­e­ter spar top that will push lines away.


G Roller-reef­ing head­sails of­ten get ne­glected, so take the sail down oc­ca­sion­ally to check it. If the head of the sail has a tape loop in­stead of a cringle, look out for wear and tear.


H Use binoc­u­lars or go aloft to in­spect your head­sail foil joints. Some­times the fas­ten­ers can come loose, caus­ing the sec­tions to move apart and chafe the sail. This might also pre­vent the sail from be­ing low­ered eas­ily. Tog­gles, top and bot­tom, will re­duce wear on the forestay.


Bear­ings may need just a flush-out with fresh­wa­ter or reg­u­lar greas­ing. Check the drum-to-foil con­nec­tion. It has been known for the foil to drop in­side the drum, so the top swivel comes off. Un­reeve the reef­ing line com­pletely out of the drum and re­place it oc­ca­sion­ally. Make sure the lead stays at 90 de­grees to avoid rid­ing turns on the drum.

Dick Everitt has sailed thou­sands of miles in var­i­ous parts of the world. He has been an il­lus­tra­tor, jour­nal­ist and en­gi­neer for more than 40 years

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