Soft shackle stupid question

Rain Man

Super Anarchist
7,181
2,049
Wet coast.
We haven't sailed our little pocket racer (SC 27) much yet. We decided to ditch the snap shackles off the end of our kite sheets and replace them with soft shackles. We raced a bigger boat before this that had snap shackles on everything, so we are just learning how to use soft shackles.

During a windy Wednesday night we had to re-rig the sheets a couple of times for various reasons. This meant undoing the soft shackle from the kite, doing it up again so the shackle doesn't pull out of the loop at the end of the sheet, then dragging the sheet around whatever, undoing it and then doing it up again the clews. PITA and too much time forward of the mast on this type of boat.

A possible solution is luggage-tagging the soft shackle to the loop at the end of the sheet. Is this a sensible thing to do or a really bad idea?
 

Bowchow

Anarchist
615
13
you can "tie" your shackle to your sheets with some whipping thread through the soft shackle.. between the knot and where is goes through the splice in the sheet.

SImilar to this, but get rid of whatever black webbing they have here and replace it with the whipping thread.
42jibsheet3.jpeg



Also general note - Make sure you have enough slack to pass through your eye, tack, clew whatever twice and then back to the loop on the shackle. Takes the load off of the knot and transfers it to the dyneema.
 

Jambalaya

Super Anarchist
6,709
117
Hamble / Paris
Too slow, and bowlines can shake out.
I can tie a bowline faster than messing about with soft shackles (particularly with 59yr old finger dexterity). In my experience soft shackles come undone more often than bowlines. Properly tied a bowline never comes undone.

Soft shackles are cool, weigh less than metal and are much cheaper. Personally I am not a massive fan in applications with a lot of flogging
 

noaano

Member
283
163
Properly tied a figure of eight never comes undone.

Ftfy.

Bowlines can and have been known to come undone. Plus they "weaken" the rope quite a bit, almost by half (40%) in the worst case, whereas FoE is like 20% or so.

There is a reason they are almost _never_ used eg. in the situations where they hold a live person.

Every knot has its place :)
 

Jambalaya

Super Anarchist
6,709
117
Hamble / Paris
@noaano in 25 years of racing I have had a bowline come undone maybe twice both times as tail was too short. In 3 years of using soft shackles I have had jib/spi sheets come off 4 times and the 30fter I sail on owner won't use them any more. I find them a right fiddle to "snug up" and as such useless on say kite sheets where you may need a quick change. Fine on small boats like J70 where you never disconnect kite or jib and always drop kite same way.
 

Marty Gingras

Mid-range Anarchist
Aside from being complex/inelegant, can't see anything wrong with luggage-tagging the soft shackle to the loop at the end of the sheet

There are simple "safety" versions of the bowline. Never had a regular bowline shake out in 35 years of boating. Can tie them easily in the dark, in the wet, in the cold.

Started last year on a couple of boats with lots of soft shackles and they've popped off a few times. They are absolutely finicky and slow.
 

T sailor

Member
458
106
Chesapeake
In my experience soft shackles suck. We have had them come off 4 times in 2 years. Now we tape them but that is sloooowwww. Anyone use the fancy Equiplites? I have been debating switching to them but want to make sure they are better.

The weight saving of the soft shackle is nice but the reliability sucks.
 

noaano

Member
283
163
@noaano in 25 years of racing I have had a bowline come undone maybe twice both times as tail was too short.

In my couple of decades boating I have had luckily only a few bowlines actually come undone, but scary many come very close. Racing is actually easier or at least better in this respect, at it implies some constant attention to details, like knots holding and being done properly, actually.

Worst ones in my limited experience are lines that are fluctuating between tight and slack, and exposed to ocean water - something like a preventer is a prime example. The salt makes ropes very hard and slackening and tightening works the knot in mysterious ways, sometimes.

On the same token, on my multiple decades of climbing I have seen exactly zero FoEs coming undone - which is good as one would be often terminal.

I am not really suggesting any knot or approach being superior to another - it is just worth thinking about. A bowline is not always the best choice, that is the point.
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
44,205
9,586
Eastern NC
@noaano in 25 years of racing I have had a bowline come undone maybe twice both times as tail was too short.

In my couple of decades boating I have had luckily only a few bowlines actually come undone, but scary many come very close. Racing is actually easier or at least better in this respect, at it implies some constant attention to details, like knots holding and being done properly, actually.

Worst ones in my limited experience are lines that are fluctuating between tight and slack, and exposed to ocean water - something like a preventer is a prime example. The salt makes ropes very hard and slackening and tightening works the knot in mysterious ways, sometimes.

On the same token, on my multiple decades of climbing I have seen exactly zero FoEs coming undone - which is good as one would be often terminal.

I am not really suggesting any knot or approach being superior to another - it is just worth thinking about. A bowline is not always the best choice, that is the point.

I've had very little experience with a PROPERLY TIED bowline coming undone... and if emphasizing "properly tied" makes me sound like a Knot Nazi, please have a little patience while I explain. I've been sailing >50 years now and the materials have changed. Rope has changed, modern line tries hard to untie itself from many knots.

To properly tie a bowline, as noted above you have to make sure that the tail (or the rabbit, for those of who learned the classic "rabbit-tree-hole in the tree" method) is long enough AND on the inside of the loop; AND you have to "milk" the constricting loops of the bowline tight from both directions. This only takes a few extra seconds but makes a huge difference with stiffer linear-core or even double-braid rope.

Another method is to use the mountain-climber's bowline or double bowline. This takes a bit more time and effort to tie. As noted above, both t hese knots reduce the working strength of the sheet by a lot.

FWIW I don't think a bowline is a good knot to use on spinnaker clews anyway. I started using barrel knots as stoppers on the side away from the rig a few years ago. Never had one come undone and we've flogged spinnakers pretty hard, a lot.

Noaano, what is an "FoE" please?
 

Bump-n-Grind

Get off my lawn.
14,730
3,509
Chesapeake Bay/Vail
the only keel boat I ever had that we didn't have shackles on kite sheets was a J24. tied on with a bowline.
on bigger boats, one advantage of shackles is being able to lose a lazy guy or sheet in light air or shift to a lighter line quicker than tying and untying knots. in decades of sailing, I can't recall more than one or two occasions where one of my bowlines "shook" out or came untied. As Steam said above, newer lines take a wee bit attention to securing the knot. I have never used a soft shacklet of any sort on any of my boats. Thought about it a few times. Don't have any experience with them except on OPBs and in that, my experience is that they are more prone to failure than my old beat to shit wichard shackles.
 

allweather

Member
415
82
baltic
Ditched soft shakles, metal ones and knots on that size(H-boat 36sqm spinnaker).
Now simply tied a plastic stopper(must be bigger than the cringle, not able to pass through) at the end of the sheet. Process is to push a bight through the cringle, then pass the end with the ball through the bight and pull tight.

Takes seconds and can be undone easily by pulling at the stopper.
 

SailingTips.Ca

Feigns Knowledge
790
340
Victoria, BC
the only keel boat I ever had that we didn't have shackles on kite sheets was a J24. tied on with a bowline.
on bigger boats, one advantage of shackles is being able to lose a lazy guy or sheet in light air or shift to a lighter line quicker than tying and untying knots. in decades of sailing, I can't recall more than one or two occasions where one of my bowlines "shook" out or came untied. As Steam said above, newer lines take a wee bit attention to securing the knot. I have never used a soft shacklet of any sort on any of my boats. Thought about it a few times. Don't have any experience with them except on OPBs and in that, my experience is that they are more prone to failure than my old beat to shit wichard shackles.
I’ve also used bowlines on kites with Dyneema sheets hundreds of times and never had one shake out, pull out, or any of the other badness that pepole associate with them. They are also pretty fast to tie with the right technique:



This is said technique:



Only downside is you need two hands.
 

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