The sheepsfoot blade is commonly seen in sailing knives because it does make it hard to stab yourself while working with rope and such on board an unstable surface. It's also seen in rescue knives because you can slip it under seatbelts, clothing, etc without too much worry of cutting the person being restrained by same. With a lot of steel behind the tip of the knife, I imagine they are relatively strong, although you don't get a really pointy point.
Some people prefer straight-edged knives like sheepsfoots (sheepfeet?) or wharncliffes over curved ones. That's why on 2-5 blade stockman knives, there's usually at least one straight blade.
With a knife like the Griptillian, where the sheepsfoot is curved, it pretty much comes down to personal preference and what you're intending to cut. If you don't expect to stab much, the sheepsfoot might work better. It'll have a stronger tip and more predictable slicing using the belly of the blade.
- no tip to break off = more durable
- great for wood carving
- no curve in the blade = lessens "slipping" in the cuts like a drop point does
- no point to hurt yourself with
- easy to use with your thumb on the spine (again, wood carving)
- slicing = what I believe to be it's greatest strength. The straight edge makes for more acurate cutting and is easy to control.
I have seem some sheepsfoot blades with the handle "at an angle" relative to the blade. These are wonderful for wood carving and very easy to use. Almost like a sharpened, hardened, extra finger.
The so-called Sheep's foot blade is also known as a Mariner's blade. It was originally designed for common crew on sailing ships. The crew need knives for their work and also for safety in case someone gets entangled in the riggings which happens sometimes. BUT, the ship's officers harbored a constant fear of a mutany so they didn't want the common crew to have weapons. The Mariner's or Sheep's foot is a good blade style for utility and for enganglement emergencies, but not so good as a weapon. And so that's where this profile came from.
Like your knot page, Folsom! I looked at your "basic knots" page, and it's good, but you don't have a knot for tying a rope to another rope for parallel pull on there (like a rolling hitch or icicle hitch). Looking at your expanded page, you note the closeness of the "tautline hitch" to the rolling hitch. I think that "rolling hitch" is the proper terminology for the hitch, and that the "tautline" is just an application of a rolling hitch (i.e. taking a turn around an object, then tying a rolling hitch back to the standing part).
I have one of the Myerchin fixed blade knives, and it's very comfy in use, and seems to keep an edge pretty well. The sheath isn't all that great, but the spike that came with it is da bomb (to use the vernacular).
In addition to some of the other qualities mentioned, the true sheepsfoot blade (rather than the BM modified one) also has the following:
~Great for cutting line, as the straight edge prevents ropes from "slipping" off the upward sweep of a belly, but has more general usability than a hawkbill.
~Great for cutting against hard/damaging surfaces, as only the point will make contact with said surface, while the rest of the edge is preserved as it passes through the intended cutting medium. Think of cutting a steak on a ceramic plate. Only the tip will dull against the plate and you'll make repeated clean cuts in the steak.
~A damaged tip is easily repaired without changing the blade profile. Simply work the spine on a stone.
Another reason why it was good on ships was if you accidentally dropped it from up in the rigging, it didn't pin anyone's foot to the deck, since it would hit with the rounded nose.