Link plates are an option for raising the furling drum up off the deck for clearance. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a new furler, or raising the height of the drum on your existing one:
- Do you need to link the drum off of the deck to clear the anchor?
- Do you need to have better visibility from the cockpit?
- Does the furler or any of its components need to clear any cabin top or deck hardware?
- Was there a link plate there before and why?
Anchors need to live either on an extended roller or sprit. Otherwise, you will most likely need the drum to be linked up off of the deck sufficiently to clear the fulcrum effect of the anchor when it is deployed. If the furler doesn’t have enough clearance the anchor can damage the drum or the cage of the furler.
You may also want to consider raising the drum for visibility, although this can be done with a strop on the bottom of the sail, it can be a nice feature to have a clear view ahead from the cockpit. As with everything else, there are proper and improper ways of doing this.
Don’t forget: if adding link plates to an existing furler, you will need to shorten the foil (sometimes the stay) accordingly. It may be best to consult your local rigging professional to ensure this is done properly.
Linking the drum up off of the deck can be done by using the manufacturers recommended link and toggle combination. Using the universal adjustable link plates for instance is typically the wrong answer for linking a furler drum off of the deck. Most furler manufacturers have link plates especially made for their model furlers and should be used when possible. The biggest issues with using improper linkage is torsion loading which, at the very least, compromises the effectiveness of the furler. Torsion loading, in extreme situations, can also shear cotter pins, damage the link plate itself and in a worst case scenario, dis-mast a boat. So before you make any big leaps of your own ‘custom’ rigging, consult a professional rigger and at least ask a few questions.
At The Rigging Company questions are always free of charge!