Scream is a cutter rigged sloop, which means that we have two foresails. Both foresails are on ancient, tough-as-nails profurl roller furlers. These devices store the sails for us when we aren’t using them and allow us to “raise” and “lower” the foresails from the cockpit.
We’ve been having some trouble with the furlers for some time. Unfurling them has been at least as hard as furling. Several times we’ve had to put the sheets on the winches to unfurl the sails in light winds. We’ve asked riggers to debug them, we’ve lubricated them, and switched the furling lines to no avail.
Thankfully we have discovered the source of our problem: operator error. When we came to unfurl the sails we would release the furling line and leave it slack. Because it was slack it wound erratically in the drum, which made getting the last turns into the drum rather difficult; hence the sail wouldn’t come out all of the way. The solution is to maintain tension on the furling line as we unfurl the sail. Ironically, the sail comes out readily by putting a little friction on the line that acts to keep it from coming out.