New Harken Blocks


Harken’s quest for the lightest, easiest-running yacht blocks never ends. Harken makes a huge line of blocks, from tiny “Micro Blocks” with 22 mm (7/8″) sheaves for up to 1/4″ line to 150 mm (6″) blocks with safe working loads of 15,000 lbs. The Micro Blocks alone come in 16 configurations—from singles to triples with a becket and a cam cleat.

New Harken Blocks

The Pewaukee company, greatly favored by weight-conscious racing sailors but also admired by cruisers, has some more new ones. Among them are a new tri-roller car for handling several sheets; a new 40-mm cheek block that Harken says is 30% lighter and 60% stronger; new dinghy jib leads; a special outhaul car for mainsails that furl in the mast or behind it, and an entirely new line of lower-priced blocks called ESP (an acronym for elegant simple product) that do NOT have ball bearings.

The ones that took our eye were some new fixed furling lead blocks that can be mounted upright or sideways inside a toe rail. These compact low-profile blocks, made with a one-piece stainless steel frame and carbon-fiber sheaves, come in two sizes. The small one, with ball bearings, has a SWL (safe working load) of 300 lbs. and lists for $7.95. A large one, with roller bearings, has a SWL of 500 lbs. and lists for $25.95.

By the way, in the September, 1999 issue some Harken blocks introduced last summer were discussed. We called them all Black Magic Carbo AirBlocks™.


Harken was nice. They didn’t squawk.

The error was discovered when consulting the discount catalogs on some more new Harken blocks.

New Harken Blocks

One Harken line is called Carbo AirBlocks, which come with 40-mm sheaves (SWL for a single swivel: 485 lbs.) or 57-mm sheaves (single swivel, SWL: 792 lbs.). These are for dinghies and small cruising boats. The Carbo AirBlocks, made of carbon fiber, are moderately priced. The two above are $22 and $24, respectively.

Harken’s big boys are called Black Magic Airblocks. There are two sizes—57 mm and 75 mm. Machined from high-grade aluminum that is hard anodized (with added UV protection and Teflon impregnation), these blocks have Torlon roller bearings, carbon balls and deeply grooved sheaves. They are available as singles (with or without beckets), doubles, footblocks, strapheads or what Harken calls a “spriddle” (for use as a spreacher). A bit dear, they run from $78 to $372.

If it all gets too confusing, get a new catalog from Harken. (Harken Yacht Equipment, 1251 E. Wisconsin, Pewaukee, WI 53072-3797; 414/691-3320; fax: 262/691-3008;

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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