Features August 2007 Issue

Practical Sailor Reviews Snatch Blocks from Six Makers

Harken, Garhauer, and Lewmar hardware stand out in our evaluation of snatch blocks. Testers rated the deck gear on the amount of friction it allowed, user-friendliness, quality of construction, corrosion resistance, working loads, price, durability, and other features.

The snatch block was developed to be installed and removed from the mid-region of a working line, and it has been loved and cursed by racers and cruisers alike. Snatch block preferences can vary greatly according to particular needs. Race-oriented sailors will want something strong, light, and efficient, while robust construction and reliability rank high for cruisers. Practical Sailor’s ideal snatch block will be rugged, serviceable, and made of high-grade materials that won’t fail in demanding saltwater-sailing conditions. The snap shackle and opening mechanism should be easy and quick to open by hand. The block should rotate and pivot freely so that it provides a fair lead at a wide range of angles. We evaluated products from six manufacturers—Antal, Garhauer, Harken, Lewmar, Schaefer, and Wichard—to find the best snatch block for cruisers and club racers. The blocks’ working loads ranged from 1,980 pounds (Wichard) to 5,000 pounds (Schaefer). Sheave diameter ranged from 2¼ inches (Antal and Wichard) to slightly over 3¼ inches (Garhauer). For historical perspective, we included a collection of similarly sized blocks dating back more than two decades.

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