Rigging and Deck Gear


Testers reviewed a slew of rigging and deck gear products during the last year-ranging from furling blocks to lifeline chafe protection and rigging terminals. Here are our top picks and this years Editors Choice rigging and deck hardware.

Rigging & Deck Gear

Furling Blocks

Furling lines are typically shunted outboard, along the stanchions, in order to keep the decks uncluttered. Low-drag fairleads can minimize the friction in the run, but which ones do it the best? In the October 2015 issue, we took a look at 20 different blocks and deadeyes to find those that were the most efficient and would be best suited for a 35- to 40-foot cruising boat.

Testers considered each products design, size, weight, construction, and the friction each added to an evenly tensioned line. We also took a close look at chafe points, clamp ruggedness, and ease of inspection. Bench testing was supplemented with onboard real-world comparisons.

No single fairlead fit all the demands of running a furling line from the stem to stern, so we broke the comparison into specific uses and selected top performers for each category as Editors Choice picks. In some cases, there were several options in a near dead heat, but after considerable debate, heres how the chips fell: The Garhauer SB-25 ($40) was our top articulating lead block; the ratcheting Harken 7402 was a favorite for the cockpit end; the Nautos HT-450A ($21) was our favored limited articulating block (middle section); the Schaefer 300-34 ($42) was our favorite low-profile, inside-the-stanchion block; the Spinlock SPWL1 ($16) was our top deadeye-style block; and the Harken 7403 ($38) was our best product for use outside of the stanchion.

Rigging terminals

Swageless wire-rope terminals have long been a favorite piece of rigging kit among all kinds of sailors. These terminals are inspectable, reusable, and can be assembled with simple hand tools. But for all of their acknowledged advantages, data is scarce about their mechanical efficiency. How much, if any, do they weaken the wire rope they are attached to? To answer this question, Practical Sailor worked with well-known rigger Brion Toss of Port Townsend, Wash., to evaluate and test to destruction Hi-Mod (Hayn), Sta-Lok, and Norseman terminals, the three major brands used on sailboats. The product reviews and test report ran in the June 2015 and April 2016 issues.

The Hayn Hi-Mod and Sta-Lok terminals were neck-and-neck in most tests, but once all the torquing and breaking was done, the Hi-Mod terminals got the Editors Choice pick (by a nose) because they were the easiest to work with.

Rig failures are far more often the result of fatigue, corrosion, etc., than of terminals mechanical inefficiency. But it makes sense to start with the most efficient terminals you can, to keep your rig as far as practicable from the possibility of failure.

Rigging & Deck Gear
Rigging and Deck Gear

1. Articulating leads (from left): Nautos 92338, Selden 538-972, Nautos HT-450A, and Spinlock SPWL2. 2. Deadeye leads (from left): Nautos HT-455, Selden 480-501-01R, and Spinlock SPWL1. 3. Fixed leads (from left): Garhauer SB20-13, Schaefer 300-34, Garhauer D, and Harken 168NP. 4. Outside-the-stanchion leads (from left): Schaefer 506-44, Harken 7403, and Garhauer SB-3. 5. Lead blocks (from left): Harken 7402, Nautos 92088, Garhauer SB-25, Harken 7405, Schaefer 300-35, and Harken 7401.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.