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How To Tie Popular Sailing Knots

  • 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)

    How To Tie A Fisherman's Knot

    A fisherman's knot is good tor joining two ropes of equal width.  They are commonly used to tie the ends of jib sheets or spinnaker sheets together

    fisherman's knot 1

    Make a loop with the red rope (around the blue rope) and pass its end through it.
    fisherman's knot 2

    Make Make another loop with the blue rope an tuck it's end into it.
    fisherman's knot 3

    Thighten the two individual knots by their tag ends.
    fisherman's knot 4

    Pull the standing parts to draw the knots close together.