Understanding and using knots is a staple in the sailing world, as they are immensely important for your safety. You can find many apps and YouTube channels to help you master the knots, and here we have separated out the most important ones, with YouTube links included for your convenience.
- The Bowline Knot
This knot is called “the king of the knots” and “the most useful knot in the world”. It should be the first one you master. The bowline creates a loop on the end which is used for hitching, mooring and lifting. It tightens when it is pulled. When you make a loop and pass the free end of the rope through the loop, wrap the rope around the fixed line and back down through the loop before tightening.
It’s an important knot because it forms a set loop at the end of a line, which can’t fall apart. For this reason, it’s used to tie the sheets to the clew of a headsail.
You could also use two bowlines to join the ends of a rope. Keep in mind that you can always untie this knot regardless of how tight it becomes, having been loaded for a while.
We include this song for binding a bowline knot, in case you find it helpful:
“The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around back of the tree, and then jumps back into the hole.” The rabbit is the working end of the line, whereas the hole and the tree are formed on the standing end of the rope.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the bowline knot:
- The Cleat Hitch
The cleat hitch is incredibly important for your safety, as you use it when docking in a marina. Form several figure-of-eights to fasten the rope to the mooring cleat.
The crucial step is that the rope causes a sharp angle with the longitudinal axis of the cleat, which will then grip as much as possible in the longitudinal direction, and the least in the transverse direction.
Learning the cleat hitch takes only a few moments, and with practice you will be able to safely secure your vessel upon docking.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the cleat hitch knot:
- Round Turn and Two Half-Hitches
Round turn and two half-inches is most useful when you come upon a less sophisticated mooring location and instead of a cleat, you have to work with a post, ring or a tree.
This knot is formed by wrapping the end of a rope around the support twice, and then taking it around the stationary end of the rope. Complete another turn and take the end of the rope out of the loop.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the round turn and two half-inches knot:
- Figure Eight Knot
Figure Eight knot is a fundamental sailing knot, also known as the ‘stopper’ knot, and the Flemish knot. It keeps your rope in place by preventing the tag end from slipping out. It is enduring, non-slip, easy to tie and untie.
You are most likely to need the figure eight knot when dropping out of ship rigging, pulleys and so on.
This knot is formed by making a loop with one end of the rope, then handing the other end through the loop. Then tighten both sides equally to adjust the knot.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the figure eight knot:
- Reef Knot
The Reef knot is also known as the square knot. It’s used when reefing and furling sails, and for securing the load on the deck. It’s recommended for light use, as it’s deemed unsafe for heavy lifting.
The knot is formed by tying a left-handed overhand knot, followed by a right-handed overhand knot (or vice versa). It’s a binding knot that connects two ropes similar in size.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the reef knot:
- The Anchor Hitch
The Anchor hitch is also known as Anchor bend, the Fisherman’s hitch and the Fisherman’s bend.
This knot is used to connect an anchor line to an anchor, but it can also join a rope to a ring, or something similar. You can use it if you need to quickly set up a dual anchor. It will not significantly reduce the line strength, it is easy to tie and 10 percent stronger than the Bowline knot. Alternating between the heavy and slack loads will not affect the hold of the bend.
Follow the link for a YouTube presentation on how to tie the anchor hitch knot: