The Garhauer blocks are probably the most affordable, and among the better looking, better built blocks out there. I don't much care for the Schaefer blocks, as they seem to be more prone to rusting than Garhauer, Harken or Lewmar.
Right now, Defender.com had some really good prices on the 60mm Lewmar blocks, and they ended up being slightly less than the equivalent Garhauer blocks, so I got some for leading the lines aft to the cockpit on my boat.
I've used both the Harken Hexamatic and Lewmar Ratch blocks. I like the design on the Lewmar better...but YMMV.
It would help if you said what size lines you're planning on running through the blocks, as the different sized blocks can be priced quite differently.
BTW, Garhauer isn't a cheap brand, at least in terms of quality. They are standard gear on a lot of new production boats, including Catalinas. However, I have not used a ratchet block from them. I don't even know if they make ratchet blocks, but am guessing that they must.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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