How to Attach Jib Sheets With a Soft Shackle

01
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Form a Loop in the Single Jib Sheet

Soft Shackle Step 1
Photo © Tom Lochhaas

Jib sheets attach to the aft-most corner of the jib (the clew) and run back to the cockpit on both sides of the boat. The jib sheets are used to trim the sail in or ease it out. Consider using a soft shackle to tie your jib sheets to the sail.

On most sailboats, jib sheets are usually attached to the clew in one of two ways:

  1. When two individual sheets are used, both are often tied to the clew with a bowline. This knot can easily be untied when the sail is changed, but the two large bowlines form a big, heavy mass that can cause injury if it strikes you while wrestling with a flailing sail in the wind.
  2. When a single line is used, a metal shackle is often placed in a loop of the line at its center point, for shackling the lines to the clew. This also means a dangerous hard object that can injure a crew in the head or eye.

But There’s a Better Way

A better solution is to use a soft shackle made with the single jib sheet itself, whipping line, and a short, extra piece of line. This extra piece should be the same diameter as the sheet.

Here's how to begin

First, form a loop at the center of the single line to be used as jib sheets. It should be about a foot in diameter. Whip the line firmly to maintain the loop.

02
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Form Another Loop in a Short Piece of Line

Soft Shackle Step 2
Photo © Tom Lochhaas

With a second short piece of line, form another loop that passes through the jib sheet loop. Whip the ends together to maintain the loop.

03
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Insert the Jib Sheet Loop Through the Clew

Soft Shackle Step 3
Photo © Tom Lochhaas

Insert the jib sheet loop through the sail’s clew.

04
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Pass the Smaller Loop Through the Jib Sheet Loop

Soft Shackle Step 4
Photo © Tom Lochhaas

Finally, pass the ends of the smaller loop through the end of jib sheet loop, as shown. Then pull the jib sheet to cinch the knot tight.

There are a few advantages of using a soft shackle. It’s lighter and less bulky (and therefore safer) than a metal shackle. It’s also easier to tie and untie with sail changes, and less expensive.