Soft Shackles

Introduction to Soft Shackles

By Allen Edwards

Soft Shackle Replaces Bowlines on Jib Sheets

My interest in a soft shackle came from the desire to stop our jib sheets from hanging up on the rigging when we tacked. It was becoming a problem as I was running out of crew willing to stand on the foredeck when the 155 came across in 20 knots. (Our races are short so we pick a sail and stick with it). The solution was to put eye splices on the end of the sheets and eliminate the bowline. I didn't want to splice the sheets directly to the clew so some kind of shackle was required an a metal one was out of the question. It was when a friend showed me soft shackles for another application that I realized it would solve the jib sheet hang up problem.

vel To the left is a picture of the soft shackle on the jib clew. The addition of the Velcro keeps the diamond knot in the center of the clew ring where it will stay out of the way of the rigging. These shackles are very strong. I did some testing and it is clear that the sheet with the eye and the soft shackle is much stronger than the sheet with the bowline. In my testing, the line broke at the bowline. You can follow the links above and see how to make them, as well as the testing that I did. I did the testing at 2/3 scale which is a little less than 1/2 the strength. The test at the bottom of the page was done to the destruction of a link line made of the same Amsteel thus showing that a soft shackle is stronger than the line it is made from. On the rest of this page, I show how to use a soft shackle.

If you decide to make a soft shackle, I recommend you use my Better Soft Shackle. It has become a bit of a standard because it is so easy to use. The Stronger Soft Shackle is in fact stronger but more difficult to make and more difficult to use. I think of it as a specialty item as did one of the other co inventors (there were three of us).

How to use a Soft Shackle

soft1 This is a soft shackle as you might take it out of your pocket ready to use

soft2 To use it, open it either by pulling the inner braid out of the outer braid, or as is the case with this one, pull the feeder line while holding the body in the other hand. Now it is open.

soft3 Put it around whatever you want to attach and feed the knot through the eye.

soft4 Close up the shackle by milking the outer braid from the knot toward the eye. That will close the eye.

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