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Category: News 2011
Coot wroxham broad, © Andrew Wolstenholme
Coot wroxham broad, © Andrew Wolstenholme
Coot size 0 halyard, © Andrew Wolstenholme
Coot size 0 halyard, © Andrew Wolstenholme


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Highly acclaimed yacht designer Andrew Wolstenholme recently submitted a review to Water Craft magazine on Barton fittings he fitted and tested on ‘Coot', his beautiful cat rigged 11'3" dinghy. The review highlights how impressed Andrew is with the results of fitting size 0 and size 1 ball bearing blocks to the rig. Barton offers a complete range of dinghy fittings to include traveller systems, 20mm blocks, furling gears, dinghy bungs, hatch covers and tiller extensions.

This article, written by Andrew Wolstenholme, appeared in the September/October 2011 edition of Water Craft magazine. It has been reproduced for Barton Marine with the permission of Water Craft magazine and is not for reproduction or circulation.

"Poor choice of fittings can take the edge off an otherwise beautiful boat, and the choice of blocks in particular can affect the crew's sailing enjoyment and the boat's performance. Deciding which blocks to use can be particularly perplexing with such a wide selection on the market from expensive high performance racing boat blocks down to basic galvanised steel models. Functionality, aesthetics and cost are the determining factors in choosing the right block for a particular application.

I have never believed in following tradition for tradition's sake and my design philosophy is to learn from tradition, taking take the best of what it has to offer but to combine it with up-to-date naval architectural thinking and the best of modern equipment. For a typical 'spirit of tradition' dinghy or yacht, a conservatively-styled efficient modern block makes the most sense in my opinion.

Barton Marine's range fits this philosophy. Available with plain or ball bearing sheaves, the range extends from the Size 0 20mm (approx 3/4") sheave micro blocks up to Size 7 70mm (approx 2 3/4") diameter sheave cruiser blocks. The micro blocks are the most recent addition and are perfectly suited for control lines and halyards on dinghies. I replaced the elderly Coot's halyards with the Barton Size 0 bearing blocks and saw a dramatic improvement in the ease of hoisting the sail.

I have long preached the use of bearing blocks on mainsheets to allow the sheet to run freely but had felt that they were not really essential for halyards - wrong! When choosing the blocks for our pocket cruiser Kite - see W84 - I went for the Size 1 bearing blocks for halyards and with the combination of free running blocks and lightweight carbon spars, the mainsail almost seems to hoist itself.

The correct choice of head is vital for the block to function correctly, allowing it to take up the correct alignment to avoid putting an unfair load on the block and cause irritations such as twisted halyards. Each size in the Barton range is available with a variety of different heads - fixed eye, reverse shackle, swivel, and becket - and the larger sizes also have the option of what they call a Variloc Multi Head.

Strong, lightweight, efficient, attractive and at prices that won't break the bank, what more can you ask for? Er, well, a ratchet block.... As there is no ratchet block in the Barton range, I went to RWO for Kite's mainsheet system, another good range and probably Barton's closest competitor. Barton are all too well aware of the need for a ratchet block, so hopefully one will appear soon to complement their excellent range."

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