Basic Sailing Knots Every Sailor Must Know

orange rope wrapped brown wood log

Here are 5 basic sailing knots that every sailor must know. These sailing knots are essential for beginners to learn, and every ol’ salt uses one or more of these knots every day on a sailboat. They’ll save your sails, ensure a good mooring, and might even save a life. So what are the most essential sailing knots every sailor must know?

  1. Bowline – Creating a loop or attaching a line to anything.
  2. Square Knot (Reef Knot) – Attaching two lines together.
  3. Clove Hitch – Securing lines to a piling or pole
  4. Round Turn & Two Half-Hitches – Securing a line to a pole or tubing.
  5. Figure-8 Knot – A stopper knot for the end of a rope or line.

How to Tie a Bowline Knot

Apart from a knife, the bowline knot is the most essential thing you’ll need on a sailboat. Here’s how to tie a bowline in 5 simple steps:

  1. Form a loop by passing the end of a bight over the standing part.
  2. Pullt it out through the loop thus formed.
  3. Open up the bight and bring it round the entire knot.
  4. Continue to bring it up till it encircles the standing ends.
  5. Hold the standing part and pull the loop downwards to tighten.
Video: Instructions on how to tie a bowline knot.

How to Tie a Square Knot

A square knot, also known as a reef knot is one of the oldest most basic knots. It’s used with two different ropes or with one rope and two free ends.

Step 1: Hold each end
Hold one end of a rope in your right hand and one end in your left to prepare to tie the knot.

Step 2: Loop right over left
Loop the right end over the left end all the way around.

Step 3: Loop left over right
Loop the left end, formerly the right end, over the right end all the way around.

Step 4: Pull on four strands
Pull on all four strands at the same time that extend from the knot created. This should tighten the knot into place, resulting in a proper square knot.

Video: How to Tie a Square Knot Properly

How To Tie a Clove Hitch

This is a small and versatile knot that’s easy to tie. It is used to hitch a rope to another object.

In this knot video, you will see how to tie the clove hitch in three different ways, including how to tie the constrictor knot (which is a slight variation on the clove hitch.

How to Tie a Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

This knot is great for tying fenders on and attaching objects that need to be secured for a longer period of time.

Video: Round Turn and 2 Half Hitches

How to Tie the Figure-8 Knot

If you don’t want your lines sliding out of your hands or out of the clutches, you’ll tie off the bitter end with a figure-8 knot. Here’s how to tie this essential knot for beginner sailors.

That’s it the most basic knots every sailor should know.

There are dozens more knots for different usages. You’ll soon be able to master more after tackling these 5 essential sailor knots.

If you don’t know a knot, just tie a lot.

– An old salt

So which sailing knot do you use the most? When do you use it? Which knot would you like to learn? Do you have any tips to share? Join the conversation below.

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