We heard it all and people from the sailing communities are quite opinionated!
Hank on sails might be seen as being « old fashion » and obsolete, but after much thoughts and consideration, we decided to make the switch.
There is definitely pros and cons to both and we did have to consider what would be best for us.
First of all, after 7 Canadian Winters, we started noticing some wear and tear on our Profurl. Unfortunately, the snow, ice, frost and defrost, damaged the slider and cracked it. For the past 2 Summers, we have been able to make it work with much care and attention, but we were no fools in thinking that we could take this furling system for extensive cruising. On the other hand, fixing or even replacing with a new system would be no less than $5 000.
The cons of a furling system
We heard many horror stories of cruisers being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a sail stuck in the furling system or even in-mast furling system that wouldn't furl the sail back in in high winds...
Furthermore, there is evidence that the furling system creates windage and in high winds, when the sail is furled, that is when it would create the most windage.
The Furling system also adds weight aloft especially in heavy wind.
There is also the difficulty in reefing the sails when needed. Even if the Roller furling makers will say that the sails can be reefed by being rolled in, the results is never optimal and most of the time, there is flapping, bag effect and from our own personal observation, much tension applied on the sails and the rigging. We found it less than optimal and even dangerous for the sails.
It is also difficult to do sail change in the middle of most than favorable weather. Since the reefing isn't the best option, you are forced to do a sail change. It is time consuming and labour intensive, increasing the risk of injuries, breakage or worse, lost of sails or life.
Pros of a furling system
Yes, we have to admit that for coastal navigation, the furler is very convenient and easy to use. One pull and the sail is in. One release and the sail is out.
No folding involve or storage.
If you have a high performance and excellent quality jib furler, I believe, there is certainly benefit to having it.
Cons of Hank on
More work involve in setting a sail initially.
Storage when not in use is more than necessary to avoid sun damage or salt rot.
Involves going forward to attend to the sail.
Pros of Hank on
One release of the halyard and the sail is down (easy release in heavy wind)
Better sail shape when deployed
Reduced windage when the sail is down (especially useful in bad weather) and minimized weight aloft.
Changing sails is easy and fast (can be done by anyone, doesn't require special physical abilities other than managing being at the front of the boat) :-)
Wanting to avoid all of these bad situations, we had to think of our strategy very carefully and given the fact that ours was already damaged, we opted for hank on.
We decided to get hanks added to our existing sails and the new jib will also have it.
We are hoping to get sail bags done for them so they can be hooked to the lifelines when they are being released and than stored in the forward berth where all our storage locker are located.
We have realized long ago that we cannot please everybody and that ultimately, the choice is ours. We are at the point of no return and we are looking forward to try it this Summer and see how it goes.
I will certainly keep you posted on the results and pictures will also be posted for your benefits :-)