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New to Boating? Don’t Forget the Shackles

If you’re the proud new owner of a boat, you should become familiar with common rigging equipment like shackles.

Shackles are an extremely strong U-shaped piece of equipment that connects items together, securing with a pin, spring, or bolt. While most commonly thought of for industrial uses, shackles come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are used in boating to secure an anchor, hold lines in place, etc.

Anchor/Bow Shackle

Anchor shackles are also known as bow shackles. Both names refer to a shackle with a larger “O” shape look. This design can take loads from many directions without developing significant side load. The larger loop shape reduces its overall strength, but it’s also able to handle a larger strap.


Chain shackles are also known as D-shackles. Both names refer to a shackle with a “D” shape design. A d-shackle is narrower than an anchor/bow and generally has a threaded pin or pin close. The smaller loop is designed to take high loads primarily in line. Side and racking loads can bend or twist a Chain/D-shackle.

Twisted Shackle

A twist design allows you to hook it up from the same direction the pin is facing, so it’s great for situations where hook up can be limited.

Pin types

Both anchor/bow and chain/d-shackles come with different pin options. Keep in mind that the pin that locks a shackle can be a deciding factor on which type will work best for the job. A few options include screw pins, captive pins, bolt pins, and round pins.

Screw pin shackles are popular because they have a simple pin that’s easy to disconnect and connect.

Captive pin shackles have a pin that cannot be removed from the bow so it can’t accidentally fall out and into the water.

Bolt pin shackles have an oversized bolt pin with a pre-drilled hole for a cotter pin to slide through to keep the bolt tight.

Snap Shackle

Another variation of the D-shackle is a snap shackle, however it’s an all-inclusive design with a spring-activated mechanism so it can be used quickly and with one hand. These are handy for jobs where speed is important, or when an item needs to be hooked and unhooked often. However, snap shackles are not recommended to secure heavy-duty loads.

There are natural advantages and disadvantages of all the shackle options, so you might want to experiment with a few different types to get a feel for what will work best for your specific needs.

A few other items to consider adding to your boating supplies: A boat winch strap is designed specifically to launch and retrieve the boat to and from a trailer. Marine tape is a white, flexible waterproof tape that’s designed for heavy duty marine use, but also works great for recreational supplies, like attaching to life jackets and vests, ring buoys, inflatable rafts, etc.

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