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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Some use them only for a few specific things; genoa clews are popular. Some use them for key rings. I like that they don't scratch the deck, can be any length, never jam, and require no tools. Down sides are they take 2 hands and abrasion is a question if there are very sharp steel edges. Where do you find them useful? Post pics if you got em'.

As for me...
* genoa clew (mush be detachable as I have inside and outside sheets, won't dent head or mast)
* pendants (fast way to adjust sail hoist)
* chain to snubber (easy to bring over rollers)

And I use simpler versions (not HMPE, not noose eye) for...
* sail ties (won't freeze, doesn't matter if I step on them)
* securing life ring (won't freeze, better than Velcro)
* securing tarps (won't scratch deck, won't jam)
 

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Harken block for first lead of genny roller furler line.
All shackles for storm jib.
To secure snatch blocks for fore/after guys.

They work fine. Only issue is when used with block or deadeye need to be careful they don't twist on themselves. Need to learn better how to make them. Videos only help so far .
 

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Discussion Starter #3
^^ Many blocks with swivels would be better of without, for this reason. Perhaps a lashing would serve better in these cases.
 

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Nothing. They kinda seem like a yuppie accoutrement for sailors. I keep a lot of small stuff around, should I need strings and things.
 

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Nothing. They kinda seem like a yuppie accoutrement for sailors. I keep a lot of small stuff around, should I need strings and things.
For starters...

- Outhaul attachment to mainsail
- Vang attachment to boom and mast base

Pretty easy to make once you have the diamond knot down.
 

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Nothing. They kinda seem like a yuppie accoutrement for sailors. I keep a lot of small stuff around, should I need strings and things.
I'm sure years ago people thought the same of autopilots, depth sounder's and chart plotters, but I bet you have these items on your boat:D
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Nothing. They kinda seem like a yuppie accoutrement for sailors. I keep a lot of small stuff around, should I need strings and things.
Yuppy, huh? This design is about 200 years old and was widely used. I don't see that SS alone, out of the catalog, makes the old salt.


More like a modern spin on marlin spike skills. But I really meant to include applications using old school variations too.

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Oh, there are plenty of places where there is a better answer (for me) in SS and I have no interest in changing. And there are places where SS is second fiddle.
 

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Clew strap for mainsail.. nice and slippery if Dyneema.
 

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I made 10 tiny ones on Friday and all but two are gone. I'll try to remember where they were used.

2 went to keychains.

On my 505 I used them in the following places: main sail outhaul, jib halyard block at tack (the halyard runs down the sail luff on my boat), two are holding vang lead blocks to padeyes, one at the jib clew, one at the spin pole topping lift.

On my big boat there are at least 4 in the mainsheet system (I have a cascading block system, so my mainsheet has 4 fiddle blocks not 2), outhaul, reefing line attachment to boom, genoa sheets, spin sheets. Spin pole topping lift and downhaul have soft shackles built into them, with diamond knots on the pole. A soft shackle holds my anchor in place. A friend uses them on his boat to hold the foresail to the furler, because we could custom make short ones on the spot that allowed him to fit a slightly longer sail.

I use them almost anywhere that I need a shackle. They are very cheap to make (the tiny ones that I make out of Lash-It for my dinghy use 25 cents of line and take about 10 minutes to make).

I don't use them where I need a fitting that can be released under load or where the fitting needs to transfer torque. Otherwise I prefer to use a soft shackle to a metal one, if only because it is cheaper.

I find the yuppie comment pretty funny.
 

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For starters...

- Outhaul attachment to mainsail
- Vang attachment to boom and mast base

Pretty easy to make once you have the diamond knot down.
- Outhaul attachment to mainsail; mine is pinned into the outhaul car
Vang attachment to boom and mast base; Snap shackles seem to work fine for me and have for about half a century.
 

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- Outhaul attachment to mainsail; mine is pinned into the outhaul car
Vang attachment to boom and mast base; Snap shackles seem to work fine for me and have for about half a century.
A quality snap shackle (Winchard, Ronstan, Harken) is $40-$50. A strong soft shackle that can do the same job can be made for about $1.50.

Soft shackles don't replace all snap shackles, but they replace many of them. I'd still recommend a snap shackle at the bottom of either the mainsheet or vang depending on your boat to provide an easy to use lifting point if there is an man overboard. Soft shackles are awesome, but too fussy to use if the object that you are shackling is bouncing around.
 

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I use them for just about anything. I have one on my main that replaced a shackle to the sail slide, I use one on my Genny tack, and here is a strange one:
When I added purchase to my ancient (1968) traveler setup, the car had a line with stopper knots running through a SS tube mounted to the car. I replaced that with two shackles on either side attaching them with a soft shackle that was perfectly sized.
Here is the old setup:


And the new:


The only drawback, as stated earlier, is that they require two hands to fasten. But, for things that don't need constant changing, I love the yuppie bastards.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tow lines (dingy, inflatables, water ski, even other boats); they won't sink, dragging the line down where props are, they won't jam, and there is nothing to drop if captive. I've seen this application on BIG salvage lines.

An anchor shackle, for example, would be a poor application; seldom opened anyway, there are serious cutting isssues, and weight doesn't matter.
 

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A quality snap shackle (Winchard, Ronstan, Harken) is $40-$50. A strong soft shackle that can do the same job can be made for about $1.50.

Soft shackles don't replace all snap shackles, but they replace many of them. I'd still recommend a snap shackle at the bottom of either the mainsheet or vang depending on your boat to provide an easy to use lifting point if there is an man overboard. Soft shackles are awesome, but too fussy to use if the object that you are shackling is bouncing around.
+1 ... strong, light, and inexpensive (DIY). I'm using them more and more for fixed mount gear. They do require two hands to operate, so I'm still using snap shackles for temporary mount stuff (like snatch blocks, etc.).
 

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"A strong soft shackle that can do the same job" How can your soft shackle do either end of this vang (see pic), and why would you want one here?

"Tow lines (dingy, inflatables, water ski, even other boats); they won't sink, dragging the line down where props are," Splicing is a very useful skill.

"2 went to keychains." Down to only one key; keep it in my wallet.
I certainly wouldn't use one on my jib sheets (7/8" double braid) as I'm positive they would fail at some point.
I'm sure they've been around a lot longer than 200 years, but that doesn't make them the best thing for the job. Canvas and flax sails have been around a long time too, but I doubt many of you are going back to them.
 

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To use a soft shackle on the vang you would buy standard fiddle blocks, not ones with integrated snap shackles, then use a soft shackle between the fiddle block and boom.

I don't know what blocks those are exactly, they look sort of like Schaefer fiddle block. A snap shackle Schaefer Series 5 fiddle block is about $100 more than a version with a standard head. Compare Schaefer Marine Hardware - Detail to Schaefer Marine Hardware - Detail

If you'll be using that block in a fixed place then the U-shackle that it comes with is fine. If you want to make it easier to remove you can replace it with a soft shackle.

Soft shackles also make it easy to add a becket to a block with a hole through the center, like this one:


That way the same block can be repurposed to have a becket, or not. Harken and Lewmar also make blocks that are suitable for doing this.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
"A strong soft shackle that can do the same job" How can your soft shackle do either end of this vang (see pic), and why would you want one here?

"Tow lines (dingy, inflatables, water ski, even other boats); they won't sink, dragging the line down where props are," Splicing is a very useful skill.

"2 went to keychains." Down to only one key; keep it in my wallet.
I certainly wouldn't use one on my jib sheets (7/8" double braid) as I'm positive they would fail at some point.
I'm sure they've been around a lot longer than 200 years, but that doesn't make them the best thing for the job. Canvas and flax sails have been around a long time too, but I doubt many of you are going back to them.
I'm not trying to be argumentative. In fact, 10 years ago I would have agreed with you on all of this, but I experimented and learned. I've never had a soft shackle failure, though I destroyed a few SS shackles in the same period. This stuff is seriously strong and tough. I'm just trolling for good ideas. I still use plenty of SS and aluminum hardware where I feel it is best, which frankly, is most places; no chafe, more compact in many cases, and lasts a very long time. Cost, taken over time, is a trivial factor. So is weight, in most applications.

Vang example. Why would anyone want to change what you have? I would not.

Splicing. I would assume that anyone that makes soft shackles can make an eyesplice with closed eyes. That is not the point. Often there is need for a releasable connection. I've seen these on commercial tow boats; they were large sizes and took serious strain.

Down to one key. Love it! I used that as an obvious example of "cute." Some folks make bags from old sails.

Coming off of sheet or failing. No, they won't. These are used on Volvo boats (generally dog bone variants, because they are faster to work with). You would think they could come off, but they do not. And they are MUCH safer on a flogging sail. There is no sensible argument for hardware on the clew of a headsail. These can be much stronger than DB sheets; a 5/16 Amsteel soft shackle tests 23,000 pounds; you'd be happy with 1/4" at 15,000 pounds.

As for your 200 year counter argument, there is an obvious hole; we still use sails, but with modern materials; polyester made the difference. In this case is is HMPE that cause the rebirth of soft shackles, though they can be very good in other modern materials. So no, we are not going backwards, we are moving forwards, asking what modern materials can do for us.
 

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"A strong soft shackle that can do the same job" How can your soft shackle do either end of this vang (see pic), and why would you want one here?
You can't and you don't. If that setup works for you ... fine.

That said, I just replaced similar 30 year old 4:1 vang with a 12:1 cascade using dyneema strop around the boom, 4:1 dyneema/low friction rings cascade finished off with 3:1 blocks. The mast end of the vang is attached with softshackle. All up about $100 in parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Sail-mounted reefing blocks. Less to chafe.

Connecting a second rode to the primary rode (Bahmian moor). By attaching the secondary rode to the primary several feet below the snubber, tangles are avoided.
 
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