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The Ultimate Guide Boating Knots

Every sailor knows the importance of knots. Each knot serves a unique purpose and aids in the challenging work of a sailor. While there seem to be an infinite number of knots out there, we have selected 29 of our favorite knots to exhibit. Read on to find out what each of these knots is used for and click the links on each title to discover how to tie them for yourself.

1. Alpine Butterfly Bend

(Source: Wikimedia)

This simple knot is used to join two ropes in a secure way. It is a reliable knot that can be untied even after the knot has been heavily loaded. In addition to sailing, this knot is useful for climbing and rescue.

2. Alpine Butterfly Loop

(Source: Wikimedia)

The alpine butterfly loop is a popular knot that, when tied correctly, provides you with a fixed loop. This is the ideal knot to use any time you need a secure loop in the middle of a loop. Uses include creating transverse lines, binding anchors, shortening rope, and more.

3. Alpine Coil

(Source: Wikimedia)

The alpine coil is a great way to tie your rope neatly so it is ready for use in a moment’s notice. Whether you are carrying or storing your rope, the alpine coil will keep the rope from getting tangled. This knot is secure, but easy to pull apart the moment you need your rope.

4. Ashley Stopper Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

One of the most common uses of the ashley stopper knot is to prevent the end of your rope from unraveling or keep your rope from passing through a hole. The ashley stopper knot is a secure and reliable knot. It can also be used to stop the rope from slipping through another knot.

5. Bachmann Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The bachmann knot is the ideal knot for securing rope to a carabiner or similar surface. It is similar to the prusik knot, but it is much more mobile, making it the ideal knot when you need to secure your rope and still be able to push the knot up and down as needed.

6. Bowline

(Source: Wikimedia)

The bowline knot is relatively simple and it is an incredibly useful knot. It tightens when loaded, making it ideal for securing heavy loads. The bowline knot is a versatile knot that can be used for most every occasion. Plus, it is fast to tie, which may come in handy in an emergency.

7. Bowline on a Bight

(Source: Wikimedia)

Bowline on a bight is similar to the bowline knot in that it is a secure knot in the middle or at the end of a piece of rope. Like the bowline, it also tightens on load and does not slip or bind. This knot can be used in all the same settings as the bowline, only with an extra layer of security.

8. Bowline, Running

(Source: Wikimedia)

The running bowline functions as a type of noose. Similar to the bowline, this knot is strong and secure. The advantage of the running bowline is that it does not bind on the standing end and is easy to take apart. That being said, the running bowline will grip its load so long as the rope remains under tension.

9. Buntline Hitch

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(Source: Wikimedia)

The buntline hitch is a convenient know to use whenever you need to attach a rope to an object. Originally, the buntline hitch was designed to secure the buntlines to the foot of square sails, but it can also be used in any variety of circumstances. The only downside to this knot is that it has a tendency to slip when tied using Samson Armsteel Blue. For a similar knot with that does not slip, check out the EStar Hitch.

10. Carrick Bend

(Source: Wikimedia)

The carrick bend is another knot that can be used to join two types of rope. It is a simple knot to tie and is especially useful for tying two very heavy ropes or even cables together. The advantage of the carrick bend is that it can be used where other common bends may not be possible.

11. Chain Splice

(Source: Wikimedia)

The chain splice knot is the most common knot used to attach chain to rope. When tied properly, it will attach to the chain without slipping or coming loose. This knot is particularly useful when sailing as is can be used to upgrade your anchor rode. Using a chain splice knot offers you an anchor rode with no parts to fail and one that passes easily over anchor rollers and through chain pipes.

12. Cleat Hitch  

(Source: Wikimedia)

The cleat hitch is one of the most common knots used in sailing and is, inevitably, used to secure a rope to a cleat. This knot is easy to learn and quick to tie. Understanding the cleat hitch is an absolute necessity for any and all sailors.

13. Clove Hitch

(Source: Wikimedia)

The clove hitch is often referred to as an all-purpose hitch and is fairly easy to tie. It is best to use the clove hitch as a crossing knot. While this is a useful binding knot that can be helpful in many situations, it is not particularly secure as a binding knot and has a tendency to clip or come undone in such circumstances.

14. Double Fisherman’s

(Source: Wikimedia)

The double fisherman’s knot is one of the most secure ways to tie two ends of rope together. It is the most reliable way to join two ends of a line in order to form a prusik loop and can be used whenever you need to join two ropes. While the double fisherman’s knot is not complicated, it is extremely important that it is done correctly. When tied correctly this knot is as secure as any knot can be, but if not tied correctly, this knot can easily come undone.

15. Eye Splice

(Source: Wikimedia)

While this knot is a little more complicated than some of the other knots on this list, it is important to learn how to splice a rope. The eye splice knot, when done correctly (with a minimum of five tucks) is a secure and reliable way to splice your rope. The eye splice can be used for mooring, towlines, or for any other reason you may need a permanent loop at the end of your rope.

16. Figure 8

(Source: Wikimedia)

The figure 8 knot is one of the easiest knots to tie and it is also one of the strongest knots available. When finished, the figure 8 knot does no slip. It is an incredibly secure way to create a loop at the end of your rope. This knot can be used to in a variety of settings and is one of the most simple and reliable knots around.  

17. Girth Hitch

(Source: Wikimedia)

Tying the girth hitch knot is reminiscent of connecting two rubber bands, but the end result is much more useful. The girth hitch attaches a strap to another strap or rope, but it can also be used to create a sort of harness for larger objects (as pictured).

18. Heaving Line Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The heaving line knot is another one that is easy to learn and tie. This knot is especially useful for creating a strong, heavy weight at the end of your rope. If you need to add weight to your rop in order to throw it, the heaving line knot will give you the mass needed to make the throw.

19. Honda Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The honda knot is the knot that is used to tie a lasso, but it has many uses for the sailor as well as the cowboy. This knot can slide easily along the rope it is tied to, making it ideal for creating an adjustable loop.

20. Klemheist Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The klemheist knot is a great knot to use if you need to support a load, but only in one direction. When the tension is released, the knot can slide up or down the rope (or other surface) it is attached to. This slide and grip feature makes the klemheist knot especially useful.

21. Monkey’s Fist

(Source: Wikimedia)

The monkey’s knot does not just look cool, it is useful as well. In particular, it can add weight to the end of your rope. Similar to the heaving line knot, the monkey’s fist knot is useful if you need to add weight in order to throw a rope. We recommend learning this knot and practicing it a few times before you need to use it in order to perfect the complicated tie.

22. Midshipman’s Hitch

(Source: Wikimedia)

The midshipman’s hitch (also known as the taut line hitch) creates an adjustable loop at the end of your rope, useful for securing the rope to a variety of objects will still giving you the ability to slide the rope up and down on the standing end.

23. Pile Hitch

(Source: Wikimedia)

The pile hitch is a useful knot to know as it is quick to learn and even quicker to tie. This knot is especially useful for attaching a mooring line to a dock post. Even though it can be tied (and untied) very quickly, it is shockingly secure. That being said, the pile hitch is recommended to be used for temporary mooring, not as a permanent mooring hitch.

24. Prusik Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The prusik knot is one of the most well known knots used to attach a loop of rope or cord around another piece of rope or cord. Like the klemheist knot, this knot has slip and grip features, however, unlike the klemheist knot, a load can be applied in either direction to the prusik knot.

25. Reef Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The reef knot is a secure knot that can be used to secure a bundle of objects or attach two ropes together. It does not slip or move once secured. The reef knot is particularly useful to sailors for reefing and furling sails.

26. Rolling Hitch

(Source: Wikimedia)

The rolling hitch knot can be used to attach a rope to a pole, a rod, or another rope. It is a fairly simple knot that creates a pull in line with the object it is tied around rather than perpendicular to that object. This knot can be used to relieve the strain on a hawser and help make it easier to transfer the bitter end to the bitts.  

27. Water Knot

(Source: Wikimedia)

The water knot is the most common knot used on webbing and is also an extremely easy knot to learn how to tie.  The water knot is ideal for any time you need to tie two pieces of webbing together, but be warned that it is known to slip under heavy loads.

28. Yosemite Bowline

(Source: Wikimedia)

The yosemite bowline knot is a version of the bowline knot, but with an extra loop of the free end to increase the strength and security of this knot. Not only is it more secure, but it is also easier to untie than the bowline.

29. Zeppelin Bend

(Source: Wikimedia)

The zeppelin bend is a reliable and secure knot that is useful is supporting heavy loads. It can also be untied even after having been heavily loaded. This knot is a great way to secure two pieces of rope together.

Now that you are equipped with all these knots, you are ready to use them. So get out there and get sailing!

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