Monday, April 25, 2011

Knots I

It's not just me who's obsessed with knots. It's Mike, too. But we've got good reason to be obsessed. Knots are simply the foundation of any captain's boating knowledge. This is not just a matter of looking cool (though tying a good know does make you look cool). It is a matter of safety and convenience, both for you and the boat. And they're easy to learn.

I find the adjustable clothesline hitch very useful as well because you can bring it in and let it out as people get off or on the boat (and it's plenty strong for our docking needs). But it's not included here. I and Mike would be happy to teach it.

Most important below are the simple hitch and the bowline. There's no such thing as a "best" knot because they all have different uses... but if there were a "best" knot, it would be a bowline (usually pronounced BO-lin, but also pronounced Bo-LINE). Simple, strong, easy to undo. You need to know it.

Boating Knots (From

Knowing how to tie a few basic knots is essential to a boater's security. Following are simplified instructions for tying a few commonly used knots.

Two Half Hitches
This reliable knot is quickly tied and is the hitch most often used in mooring. To tie:

Pass end of rope around post or other object.
Wrap short end of rope under and over long part of rope, pushing the end down through the loop. This is a half hitch.
Repeat on long rope below first half hitch and draw up tight.

This knot doesn't jam or slip when tied properly. To tie:

Make the overhand loop with the end held toward you, then pass end through loop.
Now pass end up behind the standing part, then down through the loop again.
Draw up tight.
Here's another primer, courtesy of Mike. By far the half hitch and the bowline are the most useful for our day-to-day knot needs.

Figure Eight
This knot is ideal for keeping the end of a rope from running out of tackle or pulley. To tie:

Make underhand loop, bringing end around and over the standing part.
Pass end under, then up through the loop.
Draw up tight.

Square Knot
This knot is used at sea in reefing and furling sails. To tie:

Pass left and over and under right end. Curve what is now the left end toward the right and cross what is now the right end over and under the left.
Draw up tight.

Anchor Bend
This knot is used to secure a rope or a line to an anchor. To tie:

Pass two loops through ring.
Place free end around standing line.
Pass free end through loops.
Complete by making half hitch.

Clove Hitch

This knot is the "general utility" hitch for when you need a quick, simple method of fastening a rope around a post, spar or stake. To tie:

Make a turn with the rope around the object and over itself.
Take a second turn with the rope around the object.
Pull the end up under the second turn so it is between the rope and the object. Tighten by pulling on both ends.

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