As we wait patiently — or not so patiently — for the boating season to start, this is a perfect time to brush up on all the stuff we boaters need to know. Like safety regulations. Or the finer points of maneuvering through locks. Or why bananas on board are a serious no-no.
Or knots. Yes, the wise boater knows the knot for every job and how to tie it quickly and securely. Whether you’re new to boating and never tied anything more complex than a shoelace bow, or you’re an old sea dog who could use a refresher, it’s important to keep your knot-know-how in top shape.
Now, if you ask 100 boaters which knots are most useful and how to tie them, you’ll probably get 99 different answers (hey, we may be opinionated, but we can occasionally agree). That said, most experts would cite the following seven knots as essential to any serious boater’s repertoire.
The bowline knot is one of the most common for boaters; since it’s both strong and easy to undo, it can serve a number of purposes. Be aware that the bowline can come untied when it’s not under load and that it won’t hold well with more slippery materials (such as polypropylene).
How to tie a bowline:
The anchor bend is strong, secure, and pretty simple to tie. Use it in situations where you do not want the knot to come untied, such as tying to an anchoring ring. Keep in mind that sometimes, due to their sheer strength, anchor bend knots need to be cut.
How to tie an anchor bend:
The clove hitch is considered a “temporary” knot because it’s quick to tie, easy to release, and adjustable once it’s in place. It tends to come in handy when you’re tying a fender to a grab rail or in other situations where you may need to adjust the length of the rope.
How to tie a clove hitch:
The trucker’s hitch — also known as a wagoner’s hitch — is a favorite for uses like tying loads down to the deck or securing a dinghy to deck in a storm. It holds well under tension but is also easy to undo.
How to tie a trucker’s hitch:
The cleat hitch is a popular choice for tying the craft to a dock or boat lift. Despite its impressive strength, this knot is relatively easy to tie and untie.
How to tie a cleat hitch:
Many boaters rely on the reef knot when they need to connect two lines of the same size or secure a bundle of objects. For many sailors, this is the go-to knot for reefing and furling sails.
How to tie a reef knot:
Also called the stopper knot, the figure eight is one of the strongest knots around. How strong? This is the knot rock climbers use to hold their climbing gear when they’re umpteen feet off the ground. So it does a pretty good job when it comes to securing your boat to mooring locations.
How to tie a figure eight:
Okay, time to grab a rope and start practicing. Happy knotting!