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Softies Synthetic Shackles by Colligo Marine

These lightweight shackles have a number of fail-safe features to soothe your skepticism. "Gear Up" from our May 7, 2009, /SW eNewsletter/

May 7, 2009

The red O-rings on Colligo Marine’s Softie help prevent the loop from slipping over the knot when the synthetic shackle is shaking freely.

The red O-rings on Colligo Marine’s Softie help prevent the loop from slipping over the knot when the synthetic shackle is shaking freely. Www.colligomarine.com

Colligo Marine’s Softies aren’t the first shackles made out of synthetic line, but they’re the first ones you can trust.

“To overcome the trust issues,” says John Franta of Colligo Marine, “what you do is you overdesign.”

The Softie, which is essentially a short piece of Dyneema SK75 line with a spliced loop on one end that slips over a knot on the other, has a breaking strength of 5000 pounds. Franta suggests using it anywhere you’d use a traditional metal shackle, as long as there are no sharp edges in play. One logical application is as a lightweight replacement to the brass hanks on your headsail, especially if you have a synthetic headstay.

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Clever features of the Softie include a yellow lanyard for loosening the loop and releasing the shackle when it’s under tension, a special Chinese stopper knot that prevents the slippery synthetic line from working itself undone, and rubber O-rings to keep the loop secured against the knot when the shackle is not under tension.

It’s the inclusion of these O-rings that sells me on the Softie. When the shackle is under tension, I don’t doubt that the loop will remain tight against the knot. But what about when the shackle is flapping around in the breeze? Franta shared my concerns. “The biggest thing I was worried about was the shackle shaking loose,” he says. “We put the O-rings on for that purpose, and they have worked very well. I’ve given these out to all my sailing buddies, and to date none of the Softies have shaken loose.”

Because of this “unflappability,” the lightweight Softie makes sense as a replacement for the heavier steel shackles you might be using at the ends of spliced spinnaker sheets. In super light air, that reduced weight could make the difference between your chute flying or dying.

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Another advantage Franta points out is safety: In the event that your main halyard goes flailing across the deck, wouldn’t you rather be bludgeoned by a shackle made of synthetic line as opposed to steel?

$29 (2,000-pound capacity) and $35 (4,000-pound capacity), www.colligomarine.com

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