Boating knots are used for various purposes, such as securing a line when handling heavy loads, mooring, towing, and adjusting your sails.
Following are the four most common knots you can use to tie your boat to a cleat:
A cleat hitch helps you tie your boat to a dock and can also be used for securing halyards and ground tackles. This is the most common knot, which every boat should know. It’s a strong knot and easy to untie.
Here’s how you make a cleat hitch:
- Warp the rope around the cleat’s base (under the horns)
- Pull the rope across the top and loop it on the other side under the horn
- Reverse directions and go across the top again the other way
- To finish the knot, go the other way again, but instead of wrapping under the horn, pass the rope under it, forming a small loop
- Flip the rope upside-down and place the loop over the horn
- Pull hard so the rope cinches
A bowline is the best knot to create a temporary loop that does not slip close under pressure. One of the best things about a bowline is that it’s easy to untie. The knot can be tied to a piling or cleat. It is also quite helpful in retrieving objects.
Here’s how you make a bowline:
- Place the rope on your left hand and let the free end hang down
- Use the free end to make an eye hold and pass it from the underside through the eye
- Wrap the rope’s free end around its fixed part and through the eye again
- Pull the free end, holding the fixed part firmly, and tighten the knot
As the name says, this knot ties the boat to an anchor. Boaters commonly seize the rope’s free end using a backup knot, which ensures the anchor is not lost.
Here’s you make an anchor bend:
- Wrap the rope’s end around the anchor loosely twice. Leave enough slack so you can finish the knot
- Pass the rope’s end at the back of the line and pass it through the loop
- Grab the tag end and wrap around the standing line and pass it underneath the new loop
- Pull the end to secure the knot
- Grab the tag end and make a double half hitch for temporary reinforcement
Figure Eight Knot
The figure eight knot, also known as a stopper knot, allows you to secure your boat to a mooring location. Rock climbers often use this knot to secure their gear while climbing because it is an extremely strong knot.
Here’s how to make a figure-eight knot:
- Make an eight with the rope and leave 2 feet of the free end
- Retrace the eight on the free end and leave a loop of your desired size at the bottom
- Pull all four strands and secure the knot
A couple more knots on the complicated end can be used to tie boats to a dock. These include a clove hitch, double half hitch, sheet bend, Wagoner’s hitch, and a reef knot. Want a more comprehensive list of boating knots? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our blog, “Basic Boating Knots.”
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