This site uses cookies to provide you with a more responsive and personalised service. By agreeinging to this statement you consent for us to use cookies that ensure the marketing we do is relevant to you. Please read our cookie notice for more information on the cookies we use and how to delete or block them.

How To Tie Popular Sailing Knots

< Back

Learning how to tie knots is of up-most importance when sailing.  Poorly tied rope will eventually lead to a disaster, especially when pulling boats up the side of the reservoir on the wench. Five of the most popular knots used when dinghy sailing are the Bowline, Reef Knot, Clove Hitch, Figure of 8 and the Round Turn Two Half Hitches.  Beneath are instruction on how tie each of these knots, along with diagrams and a brief overview of when to use the knot.

How To Tie A Bowline Knot

The bowline is a long established, reliable and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope

The bowline is commonly used in sailing small craft, e.g. to fasten a halyard to the head of a sail or to tie a jib sheet to a clew of a jib.  It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie. Although generally considered a reliable knot, its main deficiencies are a tendency to work loose when not under load.

Bowline Knot 1

1 - Make a rabbit hole

Bowline Knot 2

2 - The rabbit comes out of the hole

Bowline Knot 3

3 - He runs around the tree

Bowline Knot 4

4 - and hops back into his hole

How to Tie a Reef Knot

The reef knot is a simple binding knot used to secure a rope or line around an object. Although the reef knot is often used for tying two ropes together, it is not recommended for this purpose as the potential instability of the knot will cause it to undo.

A reef knot is formed by tying a left-handed overhand knot and then a right-handed overhand knot, or vice versa. A common mnemonic for this procedure is "right over left, left over right". A common mistake when tying a reef knot is to put two consecutive overhands of the same handedness, doing this will make a granny knot. The working ends of the reef knot must emerge both at the top or both at the bottom, otherwise a thief knot results.

reef knot 1
Reef Knot - Right over left

reef knot 2
Reef Knot - Left over right

How To Tie A Clove Hitch Knot

To tie a clove hitch at the end of a rope as shown at right, pass the end around the pole starting at the right, with the end coming around below. Put the end around in the same direction to cross over the standing end to be above the first loop. As the end comes around, put it under itself to be over the standing end. To start on the left side, the end comes around over the standing end, crossing it by wrapping below, then comes around to go under itself below the standing end. Check that both ends are in the middle, emerging in opposite directions. Pull to tighten. When pulled tighter, the rope passing over itself binds it in place.

 clove hitch knot 1
Clove Hitch Knot - Step 1

clove hitch knot 2
Clove Hitch Knot - Step 2

clove hitch knot 3
Clove Hitch Knot - Step 3

How To Tie A Figure of 8 Stop Knot

The figure-eight knot is very important in both sailing and rock climbing as a method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices.  The figure of eight can be easily untied after even the greatest strain.

How to tie a Figure Of Eight Knot

1 - Make a loop between the two ends of a rope (bight)
2 - Loop the other side through the bight
3 - Loop the loop x2.  Pull tight.

An alternative way of remembering the figure of 8 knot:

Make an alien.
Choke it.
Poke it in the eye

figure 8 stop knot 1
Figure 8 Knot - Step 1

figure 8 stop knot 2
Figure 8 Knot - Step 2

figure 8 stop knot 3
Figure 8 Knot - Step 3

How To Tie A Round Turn Two And A Half Hitches

A Useful Boating Knot: A Round Turn and Two (or more) Half Hitches is useful for attaching a mooring line to a dock post or ring. It can be placed under a lot of strain and is easy to untie.

1 - Take the end of a rope up around the pole from back to front.  Then take it around the pole again to form a round turn.

2 - Now take the working end across the standing part (the long 'unused' part).  Then take the rope behind the standing part and tuck it behind itself to form a half hitch

3 - Repeat to make a second half hitch. Pull on the ends to tighten the knot.

round turn two half hitches knot 1
Round Turn Two Half Hitches (1)

round turn two half hitches knot 2
Round Turn Two Half Hitches (2)
round turn two half hitches knot 3
Round Turn Two Half Hitches (3)


Holiday Sailing Camp

Find out more & Book online >