A Sailboat Block by Any Other Name
Those who think that a sailboat block belongs only on a sailboat, may be surprised to learn that sailing blocks primarily used on sailboats have other uses elsewhere. Virtually any place where rope or lines require routing, or when hauling or moving a heavy load from Point A to Point B (need your baby grand hoisted to the second floor?), a sailing block may be just the thing that's needed.
In case you're wondering how a sailing block could possibly be of help with a baby grand piano, you might say it's all in the name. "Sailboat blocks", "sailing blocks", "marine blocks", and any of several other names these gadgets go by are simply nautical terms for a pulley. Or, another nautical term that you're probably much more familiar with, a block and tackle.
Back in the day, sailboat pulleys were made of wood and rope. The wooden sailing blocks can still be found today on traditional, mostly wooden vessels and of course, in maritime museums. And the commercial fishing/industrial blocks made of wood are still sold today, even right here at Go2marine. But the blocks used by sail boaters today are mostly manufactured from a combination of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and other synthetic materials.
Wanted: Ultra-Strong Sailing Block
The combination of these materials lends themselves well in the sailing world because they are strong, resist corrosion and are lightweight. Sailboat pulleys are expected to operate under tremendous loads and having one break can be a frightening and dangerous situation; therefore, marine blocks are often load rated. You do need to know the difference between a safe working load and the actual breaking strength, however.
Safe working load is the maximum load that a marine block can handle while still working properly. Breaking strength is the load with which the block will start to give and deform. It should never be loaded to its breaking strength, as the block can be damaged beyond repair when it gets to this point. You can generally figure out the safe working load for your sailing block by dividing its breaking strength in half.
It is important to know the amount of load your sailboat blocks will see in their specific application in order to choose the right block for the job. If you are actually going to be sailing and not using some type of boat block for other things (that baby grand piano comes to mind), one thing you'll need to think about is choosing between the ball bearing type or non-ball bearing.
Ball bearing blocks are for those non-static load systems. These are the blocks for the stuff that moves while you're cruising--even racing--like the jib, spinnaker, and main sheeting just to name a few. Ball bearing blocks have to be able to run freely for safety and quick, easy operation so you can quickly release a line and let it go.
Non-ball bearing blocks are the workhorses of your deck, best for jobs with high static loads and/or only change line direction. Examples could be mast base blocks, turning blocks, halyard blocks, reefing blocks, boom vangs, and the like. These non-ball bearing blocks are less expensive, are simpler to use, and do their jobs well.
It can be a pretty big and confusing world out there for those new to sailing and in the process of learning about the many types of hardware, not to mention everything else! So, if this is all new to you and you're still unsure, consult a marine professional, such as your sailboat manufacturer, sailmaker, or sailboat hardware manufacturer.
Quality Sailing Blocks for Sale
The sailing community and others in need of these sailboat blocks are well-served by several manufacturers such as Lewmar and Harken. These folks produce an assortment of rigging hardware such as sailboat turning blocks, marine block and tackle, and jib blocks, to name just a few. Whether it's sailing blocks for sale or any type of block and tackle, when shopping for this vital hardware, always go for quality over price.
It is tempting to purchase something that looks as brightly nautical as many other seemingly identical pieces of hardware that come at a lower price. But be beware, economy boat blocks will not perform the same as well-made, load rated, more expensive products, no matter how similar they might appear.
Fortunately for the non-sailor, sailing gear is not confined to sailing alone and performs well in other activities. Many maritime products that are labeled as "sailing gear" are universal to powerboating, kayaking, or other aquatic activities. So, when it’s time to upgrade, replace or purchase new rigging, sailing gear, or a sailing block, start right here at Go2Marine.