A shackle is a shackle is a shackle – or NOT…...

Feb 10, 2004
3,522
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
Around the year 1990 I was at work and I received a call from the New London, Connecticut Coast Guard Station. We kept our 30 foot Morgan sailboat on a mooring near the mouth of the Thames River and it was only about 1/2 mile from the Coast Guard station.

They asked, “Are you the owner of a 1968 Morgan sailboat?” “Yes, I replied. Is there a problem?”

They proceeded to tell me that they had picked up our sailboat in the Thames River after receiving a call from a nearby office worker who thought that a sailboat, complete with mooring ball, drifting in the middle of the river was unusual. They towed it to their dock and found documentation inside the boat with my name on it.

They agreed to hold it until the weekend so I would have time to make arraignments to move the boat.

So why was our sailboat drifting in the river instead of being secured to the mooring? And by the way, we were lucky that the river was in a flood current and not ebb, and also that someone saw it and made a phone call to the Coast Guard.

Well upon inspection of the mooring ball, I found that the shackle that had secured the chain to the ball was missing. That explained why the boat was drifting in the river. The mooring ball was still connected to the pendant and the pendant was securely tied to the boat.

However, the shackle that connected the pendant to the mooring ball was completely failed. This Chinese shackle had rusted and corroded so badly that the threads on the pin and the mating threads in the shackle body were completely gone! And the shackle body on the non-threaded end of the pin was rusted so badly that the pin was loose and just rattled in the shackle body.

The only thing that prevented a TOTAL disconnect failure was that the pin was still in place held by two loops of seizing wire. And even one of those two loops of seizing wire was broken!

That was undoubtedly the cause of the other shackle that failed completely. The age of this mooring and its last inspection was unknown.

Lessons learned:

1. Never use Chinese hardware for underwater application. Use only American-made Drop-forged shackles and hardware.

2. Always use seizing wire to secure mechanical pins. Use at least two independent loops; three would be better.

3. Inspect moorings every other year either by underwater camera and/or pulling the tackle out of the water. Replace any questionable hardware.

2021_1122_175409.JPG2021_1122_175628.JPG
 

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
2,094
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
I think there is more awareness nowadays about the inferior quality of Chinese made hardware, and it is still difficult to find good American made hardware.
 
Last edited:
Oct 22, 2014
16,409
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Good cautionary post Rich.

Even the best metal hardware when immersed in water will corrode. It is only a matter of time.
 
  • Like
Likes: LloydB
Sep 25, 2008
6,353
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Every time I went to sleep onboard when tied to a mooring ball in Jamestown or Newport, Cuttyhunk, etc…,I thought - when was the last inspection? Never slept well even with an anchor alarm.
 

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
2,094
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Every time I went to sleep onboard when tied to a mooring ball in Jamestown or Newport, Cuttyhunk, etc…,I thought - when was the last inspection? Never slept well even with an anchor alarm.
We were on a mooring at Cuttyhunk when a microburst with 88 mph winds came through during the night. Not only did our mooring hold up fine, but the others with boats rafted up did well, too. Those are moorings I will definitely trust in the future.
 

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
2,094
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Good cautionary post Rich.

Even the best metal hardware when immersed in water will corrode. It is only a matter of time.
When I had a mooring on Hingham Bay, near Boston Harbor, the top two or three feet of the chain would corrode severely each season. Whenever we changed the chain on a mooring, we would add an extra 10 feet of chain, then move the shackle down 2-3' each spring, so that we had good solid chain at the ball.
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,886
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
Good cautionary post Rich.

Even the best metal hardware when immersed in water will corrode. It is only a matter of time.
Well, not exactly true, we just don't wish to pay for the metal alloys that don't corrode in seawater...

dj
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jan 25, 2011
2,228
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
We inspect our racing marks every year. But, that's also a DNR rqmt. Never found issues..
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,627
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
When we had ours in Maine, it was inspected every year and replaced the third year. While traveling, we found a few boats taking the tour of the harbor.
 
Aug 19, 2021
125
Hunter 280 Chesapeake Bay - Fort Monroe
I love a good sea story. The best one are like Aesop's Fables ending with a moral or lesson to be learned.

Thx for posting this one.