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I’M TIED UP AT THE MOMENT

Posted 11/1/2010

Basic Boating Knots Made Easy

Anchor Bend/Fisherman's Bend  Cleat Hitch  Clove Hitch

Basic Boating Knots Made Easy

Some of the most essential pieces of gear on your boat are the “lines,” nautical-speak for the ropes on the boat. These basic pieces of equipment can fasten loose items above and below deck, connect the anchor to the boat, and secure your vessel to the dock.

Although lines are invaluable, they’re worthless if you don’t use them properly. Specifically, you need to know how to tie the appropriate knots correctly in order for the lines to function properly. Don’t panic! You don’t need to be an “old salt” to master these knots; in fact, there are only a handful of everyday boating knots, and they’re easy to tie.
Below, we explain how to make each knot, but the illustrations are also extremely helpful.

Definitions
Lines/ropes have their own technical jargon, and for the sake of clarity, we’ll provide a few of the pertinent terms as they apply to use in recreational boating.

  • Running end/bitter end: the free or working end of a line.
  • Standing part: the rest of the line, not including the running end/bitter end.
  • Bight: the result of forming a U-shape in a line.
  • Loop: the result of forming a circle by crossing the running end over or under the standing part of a line.
  • Turn: the result of making a loop around an object (rail, post or ring), with the running end continuing in a direction opposite of the standing part.
  • Bend: To fasten two lines together or to an object, you would make a bend (or knot) in the line.

 

Bowline
If you need a loop at the end of a line that absolutely, positively will not slip or fail, the bowline knot won’t disappoint. In fact, rescue crews often use a bowline to lift a victim when other methods aren’t feasible.

Holding the end of the line close to you, make an overhand loop, and push the end of the line through the loop. 

Then, move the running end around behind the standing part of the line, and put the running end down through the loop. Next, pull the running end of the line as tight as you can. 

Cleat Hitch
Before you tie up to the dock, push the eye spliced (looped end) of the line through the cleat on your boat, hook the loop over the ends of the cleat, and tug the line to make sure it’s snug.

To secure your boat to a dock cleat, wrap the running end of the line once around the cleat; make a figure eight around each end of the cleat. Tuck the running end under the part of the figure eight at the opposite side of where you began. Pull the running end tight. 

Clove Hitch
To quickly tie up to a post, piling or railing, wrap the running end of the line around the post and back over the standing part, and wrap the running end around the post again. Finish by threading the running end under the final wrap of line (between the post and line), and pull both ends of the line tightly. 

Two Half Hitches
The two half hitches knot has multiple uses and is great for tying fenders to pontoon railings, boat bow rails or almost anything else. To tie two half hitches, wrap the running end of the line around the rail, back over the standing part and through the loop; then repeat below the first loop and pull the running end tight. 

Single Sheet Bend
This is a super simple knot for fastening two lines (particularly of different diameters) together.

Make a J-shaped bight in the larger line (the running end will be the short part of the “J”), thread the running end of the smaller line through the bottom of the “J” and around the standing part of the “J”.

Next, wrap the running end of the small line around the running end of the big line (the short part of the “J”); push the running end of the smaller line under its first wrap – and pull the running ends of both lines tight.

Anchor Bend / Fisherman’s Bend
This knot is commonly used to tie a line to a buoy or an anchor ring. Loop the running end of the line through the ring twice, forming two loose loops. Wrap the running end around the standing part, and push the running end through both loops. 

Use the running end to tie a half hitch around the standing part of the line, and pull the knot really tight. 

Of course, these are only a handful of the basic knots you’ll need to be a competent boater. As with any subject, there is always more to learn, and proficiency takes practice.

Lines and knots don’t have to be intimidating; if you can tie your shoes, with a little practice, you can tie these boating knots without any problems.