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I don't have a block on my boat, only the little hook thing. I understand how the block works but can't quite understand why it's an advantage to have one. I would appreciate your thoughts about how and when it is a benefit to use a block setup. Thanks
Thread starter #3
good question! from everything I've read, the hook is a nasty knee-knocker, so I would be careful if you leave that on. my old setup was a swiveling fairlead with a cam cleat (see picture). I upgraded to the ratchet block and separate cam cleat for a few reasons.

the ratchet block has grooved edges on the sheave that grip the mainsheet while you are sailing, giving it holding power that reduces the amount of pull your hand has to resist. the good ol' hook did the same thing - reduces the pull/tension to your hand, but the ratchet block provides some degree of mechanical advantage (I think the Harken literature shows a 10:1 advantage, but it depends on the geometry).

I also added the cam cleat to the cockpit lip, so that if I want to, I have the option to cleat the mainsheet off, and free up a hand to grab a drink of water, or whatever I might need.

with my old setup, I would cleat the line, and leave it, but several sailors on the Forum recommend learning to sail with the mainsheet not cleated, so that you learn to constantly adjust the sail trim for optimum performance. also, leaving the sheet cleated can be dangerous if a the winds are strong, or just a large gust of wind catches you off guard, and tips you over. so with the new setup, I only cleat the line in very light winds, and for a very short period of time.

the all-knowing Wayne (may he rest in peace) put together a little diagram that shows more information on the advantage of the various setups:

does that help?




Upside down?
Staff member
New Sunfish come with a ratchet block. That's what virtually all the racers use. When you trim the sail constantly, you don't want cleats. However, 'cruisers' often do like a cleating system.

Harken or Ronstan or another manufacturer? Personal preference and price, really.

PS: There are many prior threads about blocks; you can find them with the Search function (upper bar).