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Jib Furlers and related - updated June 9, 2017  

September 7, 2009 There has been some 'action' on jib furlers on the Forum, and it's time this subject had it's own page. In the interest of full disclosure Marionette (Marscot/O'Day # 12) does not have a jib furling system, although much thought has been given. More about that later.Back in August, 2008 Jack van Zandt (Wanderlust, Yankee #150, Olympia, WA) posted the following on the Forum:

Hello All,

I have been unable to get my boat in the water this season as we have been busy with travels and hip surgery. At any rate I am wanting to do some modifications to safely solo sail next season as my wife has abandoned ship for good. I have looked at several furlers and, due to price and the kind of sailing I do, I am interested in the CDI. Has anyone had good or not so good experiences with this furler? Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks.

Jack van Zandt

Jack ended up buying a Schaeffer furling system and sent in the following to the Forum on September 6, 2009.

Thanks so much for the feed back. I ended up purchasing a Schaefer furler only because it was on sale making it less expensive than the CDI. It works fine and makes my single handing a much safer and easier experience.


This past Spring Les Bailey (Mandalay, Pacific Dolphin # 276, Gibson's Landing, (Vancouver) British Columbia, Canada) bought a CDI furler, and this past August posted his experience with this system as a reply to Jack's initial inquiry (minor edits):

Hi Jack!

I  installed a 150% genoa on a CDI furler this spring. I'm well satisfied!! My friend Oly and myself installed it at dockside. (do at night when you don't have an audience - only lost one pin overboard, and only snagged once trying to thread the forestay. The directions are clear, and useful if read!  Operation, great. The only difficulty I have experienced is winding in the sail in extra heavy wind. A little heavier gauge rope on the winding spool would be easier on the hands. Actually more experience would have kept me out of that situation! Good luck with your choice!

Les Bailey


Erik Evens (Robin Lee, Yankee Dolphin #118, Los Angeles, CA) also replied in the Forum with the following post

Hi Jack-

I have a CDI furler on Robin Lee. So far, no complaints whatsoever. The installation went very well, and the function of the unit has been flawless.

Les is right, a heavier furling line is better. I believe CDI recommends a 1/4" line. OUCH. I used 3/8" and it works fine.

I think that the CDI furler is a well engineered product, and a great value.Erik Evens

September 8, 2009 Erik followed up with the following post on the Forum

Forum: General
Topic: jib furler
Posted By: Erik Evens

Hi Ron-

I have the CDI Flexible Furler FF4 on Robin Lee.  I purchased my system as part of a package deal, including my new mainsail and a new 135% genoa, from JSI Sails, who is a CDI reseller.  My genoa was cut by JSI exactly to fit the furler, and has white UV protection cloth at the foot and leach.

The CDI furler can be user installed without much difficulty.  It comes with a conplete, illustrated installation manual which is well written and complete.  All my questions were nicely addresses in the manual.

The headfoil for the CDI FF4 is rigid plastic, and comes in a big roll, and you have to unroll it and straighten it before installation.  This is pretty easy, but a bit of an awkward task that takes some room to manouver.  Be prepared when you order your furler, because when it arrives, you have to uncoil the foil within a day or so, or you risk a kinked foil. Straightening the foil takes a day or so.  After that, the installation went very smoothly...a nice afternoon project.

The CDI furler is a rigid-luff system with an integrated halyard, which means that the foil is loaded in compression by the halyard tension, and the entire luff, including head sheave and halyard, rotates when the sail is furled and unfurled.  This has advantages and drawbacks.

The biggest advantage is in simplicity.  There is no complicated swivelling head component, and this eliminates the biggest hassle of roller-furling:  the potential of twisting and fouling the jib halyard. 

The associated drawback is that it's difficult to adjust halyard tension on the jib.  To do so necessitates a trip to the bow, and the adjustment entails tensioning or loosening a lacing at the foot of the sail.  The CDI should not be regarded as a preferred option for racing - adjusting the halyard while under sail is difficult, and should be regarded as an at the dock, set-it-and-forget-it setting.  I'm considering replacing the lacing at the foot with a small turning block and a cleat attached to the side of the top of the drum, to make the adjustment a bit easier.

My FF4 unit is NOT ball raced.  It turns on a large Teflon bearing which works beautifully.  They offer ball-bearings as an upgrade for an additional $170 or so, but I haven't found any need for them under normal loading.

I've been very pleased with the CDI.  It's well engineered, and functions as advertised.  As a single-hander, it's a great blessing to be able to come into port and furl the sail away with no worries.

Ron, I'll send some pictures of my installation when I get the chance.



A key dimension is the length of the forestay, which the Sail Plan says is 30'5" with a 3/16" wire. Many of our Dolphins have close but slightly different masts, turnbuckles and maybe even wire sizes. Its best to measure your particular boat, or maybe better, have your sailmaker measure it. You are going to have to buy a new sail, or recut and put a luff tape on your old one, so a sailmaker is probably going to be involved. Many of them actually sell furling systems, and also will install, so it might be a one stop shop. The website for CDI flexible furlers is http://www.sailcdi.com/ffmain.htm. Click on it to go there. The Schaeffer website is http://www.furling.com/overview.html. Click on it to go there. Both websites provide lots of information.


May 27, 2013. There was an interesting exchange on the Forum starting May 25, 2013 regarding hoisting a jib with hanks if one already has a furler rigged. Here's the link http://www.dolphin24.org/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=244&PID=869#869, and here's the text.

Hello All,

I have a somewhat unusual question concerning the front stay. My furler failed due to binding. I removed the drum but did not want to remove the foil as I may want to use it once I replace the front stay. In the meantime I would like to hank on an old jib with hanks over the foil. Is there something I can attach to the foil that will then attach to the hanks? Your help is appreciated.

Jack VanZandt 
Olympia, WA


Hi Jack

This may be a bit hokey but if this is going to be a temporary thing, and you are not going to be racing...

With the foil and present forestay in place, and if you have a spinnaker halyard use it as the jib halyard and use the jib halyard as a 2nd forestay, hanking the jib to it. The tack fitting may have a couple of holes? a couple of shackles could suffice - one for the temporary forestay, and one for the jib tack.

Carrying this a bit further, you could use the jib halyard as a messenger line and substitute a temporary wire halyard or a low stretch line to use as a temporary, 'hankable' forestay.

Marionette, #12



I rigged the old jib to the spinnaker halyard this morning and it seems to work fine. I haven't been out to test it yet due to lousy weather and low, low tides. Pretty ingenious, thanks for the tip.


October 2, 2013 Here's some further important info from Jack just posted on the Forum

Just a quick warning on the jib furler....I purchased a Harkin snap furler for boats up to 24' without checking the size of the front stay...fast forward a few years; it never really worked smoothly and I noticed the stay beginning to shred. Come to find out that the furler was too small for the stay and eventually began to shred. So, check the size of the front stay and plan accordingly.


June 8, 2017. We have gotten some comments on 'balance' problems with jib furlers starting with Nene Wolfe's Moonshadow, Yankee #173 on June 4, 2017. Nene sent in the following photo and has some questions re her new Harken roller furling jib (minor edit)

Hi Ron !

Big Hi, and Hope the Spring sailing is going well for you.

Question for you: I put a Harken Roller Furler & new jib on Moonshadow last summer at the end of the season . I only was out a couple of times trying it out then; but now I have been out really checking it out and find that I am having more trouble steering especially tacking. Seems like suddenly my rudder is not big enough.

Have others noticed that putting a roller furler changes the balance of the boat & hence steering some? I'm a little frustrated - wondering if I made a big mistake here. Could be that the new Jib, which was made specifically for Moonshadow's set up, has too different a shape so has changed things?

I had my original jib modified to fit the furler, maybe I should put that one on & see how Moonshadow responds. I had professional riggers & sailmakers up who installed it & measured out the new jib. They were visiting Juneau at the time.



Your webmaster replies

Hi Nene

I have no personal experience with roller furling jibs - while as a single hander I can appreciate the benefits they offer, my reservations are based on perhaps hearsay concerns over performance, and a couple of scary stories about breakdowns in windy conditions with crew unable to furl or drop the jib. There are some comments in the Technical Section http://dolphin24.org/jib_furlers.html and http://dolphin24.org/sail_comments.html

But here's my 2 cents regarding your specific questions - maybe others can chime in and add to this dialogue.

> I would definitely contact Harken and whoever made the new jib and get their imput

> Is the new furling jib the same size as your old jib? Are you able to point as high as you did with your old set up? My impression is that roller furling jibs do not point as high, which means when tacking you are coming off a very close reach and it will take longer to go through/complete the tack.

> "trouble steering' versus your old set up is a particlarly interesting problem - the 'pros' at Harken/your sailmaker need to respond. Its hard to believe the new furling jib has much difference in power, but when pointing in a bit of breeze it probably have a different 'shape' that will probably affect your rig balance - resulting in a different traveller position, 'weather helm", etc.

I will be very interested in what the 'pros' say. We'll add this and future reader comments to our Technical Section as soon as we get a little more info.


June 8, 2017. DFI Joe Sharpe (Yanqui) commented below

I've had a Harken furler on Yanqui for the past five years or so. It has a 130% (or thereabouts) genoa made for her. Never had a problem with it, including balance.

I wonder if she's experiencing the combination of an old, less powerful mainsail and a new, big headsail creating lee helm. Maybe get used to loosing the headsail before tacking? Or furl it up partway and see if that makes a difference? The only thing I can think of is that the sail is too powerful somehow. Maybe change the jib leads and tension the halyard more to flatten it?


June 9, 2017 PS - Joe adds the following


I hadn't seen this page before. I do have one more thing to add, if you'd like.

 Before sailing Yanqui with the Harken Mk IV furler, I owned a Montgomery 17 with a CDI flexible furler, so I have a pretty direct comparison. I'll arrange them by "category".

 Installation: the CDI is much less complicated to install. The one piece foil comes in a big roll that is awkward to get unrolled, but after that it's simple and hard to screw up. The Harken foil is made up of sections that are joined as you assemble it. It's still not especially hard, but there are more opportunities to make a mistake and the foil is rigid and less forgiving. You also need to have a new headstay made, which I don't think the CDI requires.

Performance: both units worked great for me. Any drop in performance was negligible. The edge still goes to the Harken for reasons in the next section, but depending on how you sail, they may not matter to you.

Flexibility: huge advantage to the Harken, but again, it may not matter to you. The CDI unit mates the sail to the foil in a way that makes it impossible to change headsails under way. The Harken unit uses the existing halyard, so you can drop a headsail almost as easily as with a traditional one. In fact, the foil has two side by side tracks so you could run one up while the other is coming down. Curling headsails start to lose their effective shape when they get too far furled, so a 150% Genoa will have a horrendous shape if you try to make a 75% sail out of it. The Harken allows you to have multiple sails. 

Trailering: the CDI is very easy to drop because it's floppy and flexible. I've dropped & raised the Harken probably five times now. It's never created a problem, but it's definitely a little hairier. The trick is to have a line attached to the drum with someone keeping tension on it so that the foil doesn't bend too much. Doable, but less pleasant than the CDI.

All in all: I daysail on a river and drop the mast annually. The Harken has been fantastic, but if I were doing it over again I would definitely get the CDI. If I intended to go coastal cruising or racing, though, definitely the Harken.





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