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Preventing shackles from working loose

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What is the issue?
Shackles are one of the most versatile and important pieces of equipment aboard a vessel. They are used extensively in rigging, anchoring and lifting situations. They serve as a critical and highly convenient mechanism to fasten and fit various pieces of equipment together. However, they can come loose by turning and unfastening themselves of their own accord.

Why address this?
A shackle accidentally un-fastening itself could, at best, cause an unwanted inconvenience. At worst, as in the case where it is supporting rigging or anchor attachment, an unexpected shackle failure could cause extensive equipment, vessel damage and personal injury.

How to address this?
Secure all critical shackles by looping stainless steel split rings through the eye of the pin and back through the bodies as shown below.

Shackle secured by a split ring
Photo: Michael Harpur

Stainless steel split rings offer a more effective approach than the traditional wiring or whipping fail-safes. A wired shackle typically gives a protruding sharp end or spur that can tear sails and injure crew. Whipping is subject to chafe and UV degradation.

Undo the shackle and place the split ring into the U bend
Photo: Michael Harpur

The key to using split rings is not to spread them over the body of the shackle but only around the eye of the shackles. Running a split ring over the shackle body itself will most likely damage it by spreading it too far.

The approach to follow is to:

  • • Undo the shackle you wish to secure.

  • • As above, place the split ring into the U bend of the shackle.

  • • Close shackle in the required location by hand as normal leaving the split ring inside.

  • • As below, then finish by threading the split ring through shackle pin's eye to secure it.

Working the split ring through the eye of the shackle's pin
Photo: Michael Harpur

The reverse opens the shackle and the split ring can be reused time and time again. When shackles are secured by split rings there is no need to overtighten them so they may be more easily undone in the future.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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