The sheep shank is a type of knot that is traditionally used to shorten a rope, take up slack or provide additional security for a rope that may have a weakened or frayed area that could break. It is also easily tied in the middle of rope if it is important to keep items secured without untying your rope. This knot is not very stable but can be useful if needed to enhance the stability of a weakened or frayed rope without having to actually cut out the bad section. It’s important to remember that this type of knot may fail if it has too much load or too little load placed upon it.
A much more stable variety of the sheep shank commonly used is called the dog shank. This variant of the sheep shank is more stable and can help protect against spillage of your knot. The dog shank variant is made by passing the ends of your rope through the eyes formed at each end of the sheep shank to prevent the knot from spilling. The only problem with the dog shank knot is that the ends of your rope must be available to make this variant of the sheep shank.
There are also two additional variants of the sheep shank that I refer to as either a double hitch or triple hitch sheep shank depending upon the number of half hitches used to make your sheepshank. One distinct advantage of this variant is that it doesn't require the ends of your rope to be available. It also only requires only slightly more rope than the original variant of the sheep shank. This variant also provides more stability than the traditional sheep shank.
The traditional sheep shank is tied using a basic half hitch on the end that forms your loop. To tie a double or triple variant, just add an additional half hitch (or two) to make your sheep shank more secure and far less likely to spill.
Knot tying skills can serve as a vital part of your survival training. You can also use your knowledge of knots to find variants that can serve to expand your knowledge base in tying a variety of knots to handle a wide variety of circumstances you may experience.
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Staying above the water line!