good blocks are expensive; cheap
blocks are cheap
. if you're trying to save a buck, what you want to do--assuming here that you're a cruiser--is to avoid paying for lightweight racing
blocks that you'll never take advantage of. If you look at the Harken
catalogue, for example, you'll discover that they have a line of heavier blocks for cruisers called their "ESP" line. Check out pages 71-73 of their 2009 catalog. I can assure you from experience that these are great blocks that will outlast the generic gear
made by such manufacturers as Lewmar
, Shaefer and Garhauer.
A block that has to turn a load 180 degrees is going to do a lot more work than a block that only turns a load 90 degrees. In high-load situations where the load changes more than 90 degrees, turning blocks are often the solution because they can deal with the greatest load. Like cheek blocks, they attach directly to the deck
without using shackles for attachment. You'll often see these used on big boats between the jib
fairlead and the winch
I would not want to use a snatchblock for a jib downhaul. Some sort of stand-up block will fare much better on the bow over time. A snatch block is going to want to beat itself to death up there.
Realize that all rigging is impermanent. Just as running rigging and standing rigging needs to be replaced periodically, so do blocks. Good blocks not only last a lot longer than cheap blocks, but they are safer because they'll be less likely to blow apart at precisely the wrong moment. I've seen a vang block blow itself right through a dodger
window. Once you've witnessed such a thing, you don't mind paying a few extra bucks for the good stuff, especially once you discover that a block that costs 30% more lasts more than twice as long.