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How To Tie A Sailors Knot

Learning how to tie a knot is one of those must-know things if you’re going to spend any time in the great outdoors. A sailor’s knot, specifically, is important to know if you plan on spending time out on the water. Knot tying has been taken for granted and it has led to a number of accidents. You can ensure that you are prepared for anything by learning how to tie a sailor’s knot.

Why Learn About Knot Tying

When you learn to tie a sailor’s knot, you may be wondering why this is necessary. It can save your life when you’re out on the water. It can also help you with survival situations, first aid, and even when you want to tie a scarf or make a bracelet. Knot tying is such an important topic that it’s even covered in Boy Scouts.

There are going to be times when you need to know how to tie a knot in order to secure your boat – or to be able to get the sails into the position that you need them to be in. There are going to be knots to keep a boat tied to a post, as well as on the bowline to ensure that a line cannot slip or run. When sheets are being secured to the clew, fender whips are being secured to a lifeline or toe-rail, or two lines need to be tied together, some kind of knot needs to be made.

Popular Sailors Knots

The “sailor’s knot” is not one specific knot but rather a series of knots that you should know how to make so that you can knot a line in a pinch and be able to undo it when necessary. Some of the most popular knots that you will need to make include:

  • Bowline
  • Stopper Knot
  • Clove Hitch
  • Two Half Hitches
  • Rolling Hitch

Each one of the above knots is going to serve their own purpose.

The bowline forms a fixed noose that won’t run or slip at the end of the line. It’s going to help you connect two lines as well as to secure sheets to a clew. Even when it becomes really tight, it can be untied easily.

Stopper knots are going to keep lines from pulling through a rope clutch or a block. This is a secure knot that will not come loose easily.

The clove hitch is tied quickly and is used in various ways, but for sailing, specifically for fender whips to be secured to a toe-rail or lifeline. It can be adjusted to lower or raise a fender, too.

The two half hitches are two half hitch knots that form a running noose that can be altered as needed. It’s ideal for tying a line to an object tightly.

The rolling hitch won’t slip and is helpful when a riding turn jams a line on a winch drum.

How to Tie a Bowline

Most people would agree that the most popular sailor knot is that of a bowline, so learning how to make the knot is of the utmost importance.

  • Form a closed loop with the line
  • Pass working end through loop
  • Bring working end behind standing end
  • Then bring working end back into the loop
  • Give it a tug to close the knot

What You Will Need to Tie a Sailor's Knot

There aren’t a lot of things that you will need in order to execute a good sailors knot. As long as you have the dexterity to form a knot, you won’t have a problem. Having a few different colors of rope to learn about the knot tying can serve you well. The two or three colors will allow you to pretend that they are lines or leads, which can ensure that you are tying the knots onto the right areas.

Additionally, you may want to get a few knot tying books. These will walk you through the steps so that you understand what is being required of you. Until you get the handle of all the different knots that you need to know about, it can also be advantageous to take the book with you.

Dedicate some time to learning the different knots. Each one can benefit in one way or another. Some knots are going to be great for one purpose and completely wrong for another. Practice makes perfect and knot tying is no exception to the rule.

Tips & Tricks for Tying a Sailor's Knot

There are over 20 different knots that can be made and you won’t use all of them. There are some dedicated for sailing. If you are into the outdoors, you may already know certain knots, such as the Alpine Butterfly Loop or the Figure 8. While these may work in some scenarios, they likely aren’t going to work when it comes to sailing.

Don’t assume that all knots are going to be the same. Many are capable of holding more weight without slipping. Some are impossible to untie while others can be done easily. While you may want a secure knot for a loop that is going over the post, you won’t want one that cannot be untied while you’re sailing and trying to move the lines and sheets back and forth.

Learn with rope instead of string. While string may be easy to manipulate, it’s hard to control. You also won’t be able to see the knot effectively to see if you did the best possible job. Instead, purchase nylon robe that is ¼ to ½ inch thick so that you can practice with your sailor knots until you are able to tie them with your eyes closed.

Your sailing success depends on your ability to tie quality knots – and do so in a timely manner. Learn the knots that will be used and practice until you don’t need a book or a video tutorial to guide you through the process.