Q: In strong winds, when I'm trying to sail with a reefed genoa, my Hood LD roller furling slips and unfurls -- at the worst possible moment! Why?
The Hood LD roller furling provided with earlier C34s is susceptible to slippage. The unit uses a continuos line; in order to maintain a reefed position, the line must be tightly secured against a cleat positioned aft of the port winch. Potential reasons for slippage include: worn teeth in the furler drum, a worn line, inadequate tension on the furler line -- or bad design .. take your pick
Although my new boat will have a conventional drum furler, I was very pleased with the Hood Line Drive furler, and would have bought another had not the new boat (a C400) been already equipped. The Line Drive gear has been much maligned, mostly (in my opinion) because people haven't taken the time to learn to use it properly
My experience with slippage has been too wide an adjustment of the furling drum teeth or installation with a line less than 7/16 inch diameter or a badly worn line. As for failing at the worst possible moment--right on! My splice frayed and jammed the drum with the sail half in at dusk, surrounded by thunderstorms, in a crab pot minefield! I had to cut the furling line, roll the sail in by hand, and wrap it with sheet lines. The next day I found the double block sheaves had been put on the line before it was spliced and would not accept the pass through of my new splice. An end to end, braid on braid, "constant diameter" is not an easy splice to make. Most riggers don't know how and few splicing guides list that splice. I traded in my LD915 for a SL900 (a Hood line drive)--end of my problem
Q: My Hood roller furling unit is very difficult to unfurl or furl back in, even though I can manually furl the sail with little difficulty. What's wrong?
I used a Hood 915 LD furler for the past eight years, and experienced few problems. You can achieve smooth operation with a careful balance of halyard tension and the correct height of the furling system. To modify the height, you can adjust the number of shackles used to restrain the skirt of the furler at the tack fitting. In my boat (a 1989 C34), I ended up with 3 twist shackles between the skirt of the furler and the tack; the extra 4 inches made all the difference in the world. Of course, the precise cut of the sail will affect this adjustment. You want the furler high enough so that the angle between the halyard and the headboard is sufficiently low, but not so high that you can't get sufficient halyard tension.
Naturally, you'll want to insure that the peak swivel isn't binding under tension. Another problem that can happen is slack in the 'supply' side of the continuous furling line; I found that much less slippage occurred if I was careful to minimize the slack (simply draping it over the coaming was enough to insure that the line gripped adequately). Others have reported that the circular cleat can wear over time, and might need replacement, although it never happened to me.
[The problem may be due to halyard wrap, in which the halyard gets looped around the forestay...] The halyard wrap problem on Hood systems is easily resolved: I saw this in one of the sailing pubs a year or two ago and tried it--works great! Place a length of PVC pipe on the halyard just above the shackle. Cut it to a length (approx. 10 inches on a 30) that just fits between the shackle and the halyard sheave on top of the mast, when the halyard is hoisted tight. The PVC pipe needs to be just large enough diameter to accommodate the halyard. It is light weight and even keeps the sun's UV rays from deteriorating the few inches of halyard that is exposed to the weather all the time. If the halyard has a tendency to wrap, the stiff PVC prevents it from wrapping around the tube
I have a Hood Seafurl model 705 LD system with a continuous furling line on my C28. Two years ago, I experienced serious "binding" and jamming of the furling line and drive unit when furling and unfurling. Looking at the exploded view of the lower drive assembly, I disassembled the unit and examined the various parts and found the rope stripper badly gauled. I called Hood direct and described my findings. They replaced the rope stripper (plus gave me a spare to boot) for free, plus threw in a new set of top bearings for free. (top bearing design had been improved without pop rivets which tended to pop out - no pun intended) In addition, the rep told me to be sure to have a clearance between the lower sheave cover and the upper sheave cover of the thickness of a nickel. (You won't find this advice in the manual) In addition, the service rep strongly suggested an annual inspection (also not in the manual) by carefully disassembly and applying a light coating of silicone to the parts. This is a lengthy way of stating that my problem was solved and the culprit was the gauled rope stripper plus a lack of an annual inspection and lubrication
I upgraded my Hood Seafurl LD to the new Hood Seafurl-5 system, and the difference is incredible - no more problems. I very highly recommend this upgrade. Contact Hood Yacht Systems directly to find out whether they're still offering LD owners a 50% discount on the upgrade. I didn't need to replace the extrusion, so the whole upgrade cost me about $700