Reader Experiences with Top-down Furlers


Following the publication of Part 1 of this report, we heard from several readers about their experiences with top-down furlers. Here are a few of their comments.


I installed the Seldn GX10 last summer along with a Seldn bowsprit. It works as described in the January 2014 article, and I am happy with it. The only issue Ive had is that after furling the spinnaker with the sheets wrapping around the lower portion of the sail, when unfurling on the next spinnaker usage, the sheets do not unfurl easily, and the most reliable fix Ive found is to remove the sheets after furling and reattach them. Perhaps it is only my limited use; any comments appreciated. Also, with the Seldn, there is not a way to have an adjustable tack line. Any idea how to modify the tack attachment to allow adjustment?

Dan Rees

Via email

Testers did not have the sheet problem you mentioned, but we single-sheeted the asym-afterall, the easiest way to jibe the sail is to furl it. Once the sail was furled, we swapped the sheet to the other side and unfurled the sail. The single sheet is tensioned, and theres no lazy sheet to wrap up in the opening or furling process. With only one sheet wrapped around the furled sail, we had no unfurling issues after bag stowing.

Seldn offers an optional adjustable tack swivel for the GX furler, but you can also rig your own setup. Simply add a small shackle to one of the three clevis-pin attachment points on the drum swivel. After the sail is furled, connect a tack-line lead block to the drum swivel and run the tack control line to a winch or the anchor windlass. Unsnap the original tack snap shackle, and ease off on the new tack line to control shoulder projection. Haul in on this line prior to furling, and reclip to the original tack snap shackle, finally releasing the trimmable tack line.


My friend and I both have Karver top-down furlers. We can hoist, furl, and jibe fine. But the learning curve is long, and when you blow it, you have to take the whole rig off the boat, find a large field, wrangle the sail off the line, and then re-furl on the boat. The failure comes when the sail starts to wrap from the bottom prematurely. The next time you unfurl, the tight bottom starts to wind in as the top winds out.

The trick is to keep the sail billowing away from the furling line so the bottom doesn’t get caught and wind in. Also, make sure the rigging is perfectly free so that there is no torque at all on the tack fitting. Like Goldilocks, when it is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid. On balance, I am not sure it that much better than using a spinnaker sock-both with a crew and singlehanding.

Andrew Lippman

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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