9 Easy Knots for Boating

9 Simple Boating & Sailing Knots You Should Know

When it comes to boating, there are many types of knots used for everything from securing line when mooring, handling heavy loads, towing and of course, adjusting your sails.

As boating experts at Van Isle Marina, we’ve narrowed it down to this list of 9 tied and true (pun intended) knots, hitches and bends. These knots will assist you with everything from anchoring to joining two different lines in a pinch. Armed with this basic knowledge, you can cast off with confidence.

Note: When in use, the end of a line is called the standing end. If hanging loose it’s known as the working end, sometimes referred to as the tail end.

The Knots

A knot is mainly used to secure a line to an object, like a piling. It is also used to form an eye, or a noose. Knots used at the end of a line can function as a stopper to keep the line from slipping away, a loop to fasten to an object, or to add weight to the line when tossing.

Bowline Knot How to tie a Bowline Knot

The bowline is the most widely used in boating. A bowline forms a fixed noose at the end of the line and can also be used to connect two lines. The bowline is a go-to because it doesn’t slip and the knot can easily be untied, no matter how tight it has become.

How to Tie a Bowline Knot

Make a loop in the line, with the working end over the standing end. The working end goes through the loop, around behind the standing end and back into the loop. To close the knot, pull tightly. To untie, turn the knot over and bend it downward to loosen it.

Video Instructions

 

how to tie figure eight knotFigure Eight Knot

The figure eight is used as a stopper knot that can easily be undone. It’s most often used to keep a line from sliding away and should never be used for bearing a load.

How to Tie a Figure Eight Knot

Pass the working end over itself to form a loop then loop under and around the standing end. Finish the knot by passing the tail of the line down through the loop.

Video Instructions

 

Heaving Line Knothow to tie heaving line knot

The heaving line knot is excellent for weighing down the end of a line, making it easier to throw the line farther and keep it under control.

How to Tie a Heaving Line Knot

Make a bight (loop) in the line and hold it so that it encloses the working end. Wrap the working end around the first two strands, then around all three to use up the line of the working end. Finish the knot by passing the working end through the loop.

Video Instructions

how to tie half hitch knotHitch

A hitch is commonly used for tying line together (bending) or tying line to an anchor or a pile. A well-tied hitch will hold tightly to whatever you need it to, and still untie quickly and easily.

Half Hitch

The half hitch is used to bear loads as well as tie line around an object. It’s also used to finish many other hitches securely.

How to Tie a Half Hitch

Form a loop around the object you want to tie on to. Pass the end around the standing end and through the loop then tighten into the completed half hitch, which is designed to take a load on the standing end.

Video Instructions

Anchor Hitchhow to tie anchor hitch knot

Used for tying anchor line to the anchor.

How to Tie an Anchor Hitch

Pass the working end twice around the post keeping the second turn slack. Pass the working end over the standing end and under the original slack turn to tie the first half hitch. Pass the line around the standing end to tie a second half hitch and finish the knot.

Video Instructions

 

how to tie a cleat hitchCleat Hitch

The cleat hitch is used to attach line to a cleat. In sailing terms, a cleat is a T-shaped piece of metal or wood to which ropes are attached.

How to Tie a Cleat Hitch

Pass the line around the bottom horn of the cleat and then around over the top. Pull the line down across the middle and then up across the top again. Twist a loop in the line and hook it on the cleat as a half hitch.

Video Instructions

Midshipman’s Hitchhow to tie midshipmans hitch knot

The midshipman’s hitch creates an adjustable loop at the end of the line. Even though the loop can be adjusted, when used in combination with a half hitch, it provides a secure hold.

How to Tie a Midshipman’s Hitch

Pass the working end around the standing end then pass it around again. Tuck it beside the first turn and pull tightly. Pass the working end around again and then tie a half hitch to complete the knot.

Video Instructions

 

Bend

how to tie sheet bend knotA bend is used to connect two lines together. In sailing terms, bend means “to join”.

Sheet Bend

A sheet bend works well for joining different sized lines.

How to Tie a Sheet Bend

Form a bight (loop) in the thicker line and hold it in one hand. Pass the thinner line through the bight and behind first the working end and then the standing end. Tuck the thinner line under itself to finish.

Video Instructions

 

Alpine Butterfly Bendhow to tie alpine butterfly bend knot

Based on interlocking overhand knots, the alpine butterfly bend is used to join similar sized lines.

How to Tie an Alpine Butterfly Bend

Join the two ends, then wind the line around your hand so the join is by your fingertips. Wind the line around your hand again, then fold the join back and up under the other lines. Push the knot off your hand and tighten. To finish the knot, release the temporary join.

Video Instructions

 

Carrick Bendhow to tie carrick bend knot

The Carrick Bend is a great solution for a load-bearing bend that can be easily untied when no longer needed.

How to Tie a Carrick Bend

With one line, form a loop with the working end under the standing end. Pass the line under the loop of the other line and then over and under. Thread the working line across the loop passing under itself. To finish, pull both standing ends to tighten the knot.

Video Instructions

 

The number of knots, bends and hitches out there is staggering. We narrowed it down to these nine sailing knots since they’re all simple to master and have many practical applications for boating. If you’d like to learn more, we recommend visiting Animated Knots for a complete list of knots used in yachting.

At Van Isle Marina, we are Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealers for top of the line Pursuit boats and Riviera luxury yachts. If you’ve been considering upgrading your boat, browse through our wide selection of new and used yachts and boats or contact our team of expert brokers to find the perfect model for your lifestyle.