Tie a soft shackle in 10 minutes! Soft shackles are cheaper, stronger, lighter and kinder to your boat than the stainless-steel alternative, but many yachtsmen still use metal shackles. Is it time the cruising yachtsman followed in the wake of racing yachtsman and converted?
Soft shackles can be used almost anywhere you currently use a conventional shackle. Look on any boat and you will usually find areas where a metal shackle has worn away an aluminium casting or toe rail. If soft shackles had been used from the outset, one might have had to replace a shackle a few times but this would be a lot cheaper than having to replace a mast fittings, for example.
Another advantage is that once the shackle is secured there is little or no chance of it coming undone, unlike conventional shackles, which require seizing to prevent a pin coming adrift. Soft shackles can easily be undone with cold or wet hands and don’t require a shackle key. While I wouldn’t advise being hit around the head with one, it must surely be preferable to a metal shackle of the same diameter. Soft shackles aren’t suitable where you may need to undo them under load or where you need to bring two ends together tightly before securing them with a shackle, but for all else they are a worthy replacement.
To find out more read the July 2016 issue of Yachting Monthly