The Minimalist Sailor

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To furl or not to furl?

That is the question!

Our new baby!

Our new baby!

Eleanor’s frozen/faulty roller-furling has been the last big piece of the puzzle, I need something safe, cheap, and dependable. If you have ever been stuck in a blow with a sail you cant roll in or out you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Eleanor came with a vintage Dynafurl. I called the company that sells the parts for me to fix it and was shocked to hear the bearings are about $600. How can a set of bearings cost over $50? I’m tired of being taken advantage of and I immediately started looking for used furlers. I found a nice Profurl up in St Augustine for $1000 and hit the road.

HanksI drove 8 hours yesterday and burned more fossel fuel that Carla and I consume in 5 months at home, only to return empty-handed. The owner of the roller-furling said he would break it down for me for shipping and I worked with him for 3 hours breaking down the furler.

He beaded all the bolts in the furling with 5200 instead of lock-tight when he assembled it, and we had to heat the bolts up with a torch to break them free. Just before we were finished he stood up, copped an attitude, and told me his blood-sugar was down and he didn’t want to finish breaking the furler down (another 1/2 hour) “take it as it is” he barked at me, “but I drove a long way and I have no tools” I replied.

unnamedNot having tools myself I left and came home empty-handed after an 8 hour drive, needless to say I was pretty pissed-off, and truthfully I don’t like buying anything from assholes.

I try to look for my path in everything I do. Driving back I asked myself what was the lessons in all of this and the little voice in my head told me I should “GO BACK TO HANK ON SAILS” (keep it simple sailor)!

I know hank-on jibs/genoas aren’t very popular anymore but the promise I made myself with Eleanor was SIMPLICITY!

hankbagSo today I’m calling around looking for used sails.

What are the attributes of hank on sails? Performance, performance, and performance! I will also be able to see my for-stay which is a great safety feature, not to mention I don’t have to sew any sot of sacrificial UV material, downside is a little more work getting the sail up.

I also need to make a for-stay as the Dynafurl material is my current for-stay, bummer!

I’m going to look at some used sails tomorrow and fly to NY on Thursday. Its still quite cold but I really need to stick to my schedule and be out of there no later than the 3rd week of April in order to make it back to Panama by July.

I’ve taken on a crew member (Todd) that will be with me for the duration of my trip to Panama, he seems like a really cool guy.

Peace, Love, and Coconuts guys. Ill check in with you from NY.

Sail far and live slowly.

– Alex

Published in Alex Dorsey
Updated: March 30, 2015 — 11:04


  1. Man that’s a bummer about the furling gear. I would’ve been so pissed off.

    I second the idea of going hank-on. I’ve read too many horror stories of furlers getting jammed at the most critical of moments. I also don’t like the idea of a sail UN-furling itself under strong conditions. I’ve seen videos of even a handkerchief size piece of sail tearing to shreds in strong winds.

    I’m keeping my hank-on staysail & jib. It’s simple, easy to fix, and easy to change sails. Not to mention, the cost of buying and maintaining a furling gear.

  2. I knew there was a reason I asked you to start writing :)

    Yeah, it’s just the way to go for our kind of sailing!!!!

  3. I am an old school hank-on guy myself. My little sloop came with 5(!) headsails. I don’t know if I’ll take them all when I go, but I like the simplicity and security. They all fit in one cockpit locker, so I probably start with all of them.

    Actually, the boat came with 7 headsails but two were for the furler that I chose not to use. :o)

  4. I’ll vouch for Todd being a really cool guy :) We (and our families) have been friends for going-on 42 years. That’s more years than I sometimes claim to have been on the planet. :)

  5. Cheers Alex,
    Is it possible to get a measurement & maker of that dynafurl bearing then buy it from a bearing rep? Same gig with my BUHK saildrive, 2 small “enclosed”race bearings from Buhk $90…bought online both for $18…same bearing…
    If not could you use existing jib & install grommets for hank on’s yourself… I use a downhaul attached a few inches from the head of my staysail then a small block at bottom of stay near the tack, the line pulls the sail down nicely on deck…

    If your coming down ICW stop in Oriental, NC… Free towndock & you can use my marina facilities plus we have the sweetest tasting creek shrimp in the world…
    Best of luck, sending good vibes your way …
    Kindest regards, Danville

  6. Hi Alex,
    I recently had a similar experience with bearings. It is rare you are the first to encounter a problem. Sometimes kind souls who have come before you post all the information regarding what is need and where to get it. I realize your time is limited.
    Post all the info you can about the dynafurl and if I will see if anybody has crossed this bridge before you. Beware Chinese imitations in proper box’s etc.
    Keep positive, that recent incident may have saved you more then 8 hours, thank that guy and move along,


  7. If those old bearings have numbers on them it is very possible to cross reference them. If not a good set of calipers and measure everything.

  8. If you’re in my neck of the woods try Sailorman on State Road 84.

  9. It´s pretty sure there is either a Timken or SKF bearing with the same measures, and it will be much cheaper to buy them at a bearing retailer. Besides, you won´t get better quality!

  10. Good Morning Alex, Carla & Nacho…

    Yep, it’s choices. When I got Panacea, she had a furling head sail, hank on stay sail and a furling main (outside the mast), and a hank on mizen. The furling systems were the old, solid rod, type and about ready to fall apart. I was going to change them both, but after sailing with a furling main I decided to up grade the junk to a profurl on both of them. I fell in love with a furling main. I never thought that would happen.

    In any case it’s been good to me and my back and heading down wind, it’s nice to “bag” that main and unlimited reefing is a jackpot from the cockpit. It works for me and keeps me sailing comfy.

    Later my friends… Sail on.

    Capt. Paul
    s/v Panacea

  11. When I bought our CSY 33 I was going to go all out and put roller reefing on the head and staysail. So much safer to be able to not have to exit the cockpit in bad weather I thought. Well after pricing them and experiencing two heavy squalls I realized HANK ON IS THE WAY TO GO. So easy to drop the sails quickly, very little maintenance (just keep the hanks cleaned) and SOOOOOOO much better changing out the sails. And of course there’s just the old time authentic look of a hank on rig. Cant beat it. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Thanks for all your posts Alex. It keeps me motivated to get out there. WE WILL DO IT!!!!

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