Know your knots

5 Knots All Aailors Ahould Know!

Sailing Spyridon


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The Bowline

This is hands down, the number one most important knot to learn. The bowline is a quick and easy way to put a loop in any line. We use it on our lead sheets, on our dinghy painter, while docking…pretty much all the time

 The bow line is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed “eye” at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load.


Cleat Hitch (Halyard)

It blows my mind that some sailors/boat owners don’t get this one right. The most important part is the LOCKING the hitch! Make sure you get the hitch in by putting the tail of the line under the figure eight. This prevents the line from coming undone. In fact, we often do two hitches. I’ve even had line handlers at fuel docks not put a locking hitch in and when the line is pulled against, it comes undone.

Clove Hitch (with and without Quick Release)

The clove hitch knot is fairly simple, and it can be useful for securing ropes to trees, posts, or poles. One benefit of this knot is it’s fairly easy to adjust the length of the rope if you need to. When you are putting your fenders out, use this knot to make it easy to adjust your fenders on the fly. With the quick release, one tug reduces the knot to a simple wrap around the lifeline, and then you can pay out or take up the line as needed to get your fender height just right. I’ve seen boaters fiddle with fenders and struggle with getting them to the right height easily, and this knot is the solution.

Figure 8 knot

The Figure-8 knot is an essential stopper knot. Unlike the overhand loop, it won’t bind up no matter how much strain it comes under. That means it will always be easy to untie. It is used primarily to stop a line from running.

The figure-eight bend knot is used to “splice” together two ropes, not necessarily of equal diameter. This knot is tied starting with a loose figure-eight knot on one rope (the larger-diameter one if unequal), and threading of the other rope’s running end through the first figure eight, starting at the first figure-eight’s running end and paralleling the path of the first rope through the figure eight until the second’s ropes running end lies parallel against first’s standing end. The result is two figure-eight knots, each partly inside the other and tightening its hold on the other when they are pulled in opposite directions. This can be a permanent or temporary splice. While it precludes the ropes’ slipping relative to each other, it is a typical knot in having less strength than the straight ropes.

The Square knot

A quick and easy knot for temporarily joining two ropes together. It got the name of reef knot from the old days of tall ship sailing, when it was used to “reef” the sail. Back then the sailors would have to climb the rigging, go out on the yards, and actually reduce the sail by hand, and this was the knot they used. Not many of us still sail that way today, but this knot still has its uses! It’s easy and quick to tie when safety and stability are not critical, such as securing a sail cover.

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