Letter to PRACTICAL SAILOR Magazine:
Last spring I purchased a Freedom 45 with standard mast track and a Doyle Stack Pack. With a boom 6′ off the deck, you can readily recognize the problems of a standard sail cover. Regretably, the mast track was sticky on lowering the sail, and the Stack Pack would not capture the dropped sail without a lot of spillage over the sides.
I read your reports and decided on the Strong/Tides Marine system. It was installed and works flawlessly — with 98% of the smoothness of Harken (from a previously boat I owned). I have no trouble reefing.
Secondly, I was faced with a Stack Pack that was heavily weathered and in need of repair. I reviewed my options and purchased a Mack Pack (that you highly recommended). We solved the lack of a topping lift by bolting on the aft end of the boom a 2′ section of Harken heavy duty traveler track as a support for the outboard end of the Mack Pack. It works like a dream. Occasionally, a bit of tapping an errant fold in place with my boat hook might be needed. Time from dropping sail to final zip-up is less than five minutes by myself.
The good news is that the Harken track in my previous Morgan 44 cost almost $3,000, whereas the Strong Track was about $1200. And, the quote from Doyle on replacing the weathered Stackpack was $2500, whereas the Mack pack was about $800. A savings of $3500!
That savings will buy a lot of issues of Practical Sailor. Even just one of your articles a year is worth the subscription.