How to tie common boating knots

November 3, 2015

Ahoy ye mateys!

Whether it is your first day on the water or you have been sailing for years, it is imperative that you learn basic knots that will keep you, your passengers and your boat safe. Here's what you need to know.

How to tie common boating knots

Cleat hitch knot

When tying the boat to a mooring, a dock or to attach a line to the boat, it is best to use a cleat hitch. Essentially a figure-eight knot, start by wrapping the line tightly around the cleat. Next, begin a figure-eight motion by wrapping the rope from one end of the hitch to the opposite end and continuing to the other side. Finish the knot by forming an underhanded loop that slips over the far side of the cleat. Be sure to pull the long end firmly and give the line a tug to ensure that it will hold.

Bowline knot

Considered the most secure of all nautical knots, the bowline is also the most challenging. However, once you learn how to properly tie the knot, it is extremely useful and can be utilized outside of boating in sports like mountain climbing. Ideal because it is extremely strong and stable, the knot won't slip when done correctly. Start by laying the rope on your non-dominant hand with the free end hanging towards the ground. Make a small loop and bring the end that is free through the loop that was just made. Wrap the line that just went through the loop around the free line and bring it back through the loop. Tighten by pulling on the free line.

Square knot

Considered the easiest knot to make, the square knot should never be used for tying a boat to a mooring or a dock; however, it is deal for simple tasks like tying down cargo. Similar to tying a shoe, cross the lines end over end twice and tie an overhand knot.

Clove hitch

Designed to be used for a temporary docking like when retrieving passengers or getting supplies, the clove hitch is generally stable; however, it can loosen over time. One of the easiest knots to make, start by looping both lines of the rope counterclockwise around the object to which you are docking. Make another loop and pull the line to tighten.

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