Knot Tying

A Knot to Remember

Learning the Ropes Regarding Nautical Knots
A big key to good seamanship is knowing the ropes, literally, and knowing a knot or two can give you the confidence you need to enjoy your venture into the waters. So to help make your outings more successful and fun (and keep your Bayliner from drifting), we've highlighted some of the more important nautical knots for our Bayliner friends and revealed some step-by-step "how tos" The first important things to know about nautical knots are the terms:

Anchor Rode: The anchor line or rope
Bight: The part of the rope or line, between the end and the standing part, on which a knot is formed; a shallow bay.
Bitter End: The last part of a rope or chain. The inboard end of the anchor rode.
Bowline (bô lin) Knot: A common and useful rope knot used to form a temporary loop on the end of a line.
Clove Hitch: A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a piling.
Eye: A fixed closed loop at the end of a rope.
Eye Splice: A fixed loop spliced in the end of a rope.
Fast: Said of an object that is secured to another.
Fid: A pointed, carrot-shaped tool used for splicing rope.
Figure Eight Knot: A knot in the form of a figure eight, placed in the end of a line to prevent the line from passing through a grommet or a block.
Granny Knot: An incorrectly tied knot.
Hitch: A knot used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.
Knot: A fastening made by interweaving rope to form a stopper, to enclose or bind an object, to form a loop or a noose, to tie a small rope to an object, or to tie the ends of two small ropes together.
Lanyard: A short piece of rope used as a handle or to secure an object.
Line: Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.
Manila: A rope fiber from the Philippines.
Rope: In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When it comes aboard a vessel and is put to use, it becomes a line.
Sheet Bend: A knot used to join two ropes. Functionally different from a square knot in that it can be used between lines of different diameters.
Slack: Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.
Splice: To permanently join two ropes by tucking their strands alternately over and under each other.
Square Knot: A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.
Standing Part: That part of a line which is made fast. The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.
Working Part: The part of a line being used to form the knot.

Crowned as the "King of Knots," a bowline is one of the most useful knot aboard any vessel because it is very versatile. It is used to form a temporary loop in a line, so it can be thrown over a piling. It can also be used to attach a line to an eye. This knot won't slip or jam. The first stage of tying a bowline will require some practice, but once mastered, you'll look like a pro.

What to do:

Hold the standing part of the line in your left hand and the bitter end in the right hand. Lay the bitter end on top of the standing part so as to make a number six.

With your left hand, loop the standing part around the bitter end. As the standing part loops over the bitter end, turn the bitter upward so as to poke up through the loop.

Pass the end upward behind the standing part and then back down through the standing part's loop to finish. Work the knot tight and you have a bowline.

If the line you are using is slippery such is the case with a synthetic fiber, or if it has to hold for sometime, wrap the bitter end to the side of the loop to keep it from slipping.

Cleat Hitch
Cleat hitches are for attaching a line to a cleat on the dock or on the boat. It is also used for fastening halyards, outhauls, and downhauls. It is never used for fastening the sheet, as the sheet often has to be released in a hurry.

What to do:

Take the line to the ear of the cleat furthest from where the line comes from (the load). Take full round turn around cleat.

Cross across the top of the opposite ear of the cleat to form a figure-8.

Make one or two full round turns, each pulled in tight. Finish with a half hitch turned under so that the line is coming away from the cleat in the opposite direction from which it came in.

Clove Hitch
This knot is simply two loops with an end tucked under. The clove hitch is typically used when both ends are carrying a load and need to be secured to a fixed object. It is a temporary knot and requires care as it can come loose. You may add a couple of half hitches to make it more permanent.

What to do:

With each of the standing parts of the line with the load in each hand, loop the bight between the hands over the post or fixed object. Make sure the left hand's standing part is on top of the loop, while the right hand's standing part is under.

With the right hand's standing part, loop the line again over the post or fixed object. Again, make sure the left standing part is on top of the loop, while the right standing is under.

When completed it should look like this:

Figure 8
The figure-of-8 is a very easy seaman's stopper knot that keeps the line from slipping out of things, such as a pulley or an eye. It does not bind so tightly, which makes it easier to undo. It is bulkier than an overhand knot.

What to do:

Make an underhand loop with the bitter end over the standing part, loop it behind the standing part, and then bring it back through the front of the loop to behind the loop to form a figure 8. Dress and set the knot.

This is the simplest of knots and is the kind you use to tie your shoes or knot your thread before sewing on a button. For the waters it's best used to prevent a line from slipping through an eye or sheave, or can stop the ends of a line from fraying.

What to do:

With the standing part in one hand and the bitter end in the other, create a bight by crossing the standing part and the bitter end, then loop the bitter through the bight, switching hands in the process. Pull tight.

Round Turn and Two Half Hitches
This knot permanently secures a load on one end to an eye or piling. It's good for mooring a boat to a dock, fastening a anchor line to an anchor, tying a towline, etc. The load is held with the round turn, while the two half hitches secure it. The round turn reduces the amount of chafing and wear on the rope. If there is a heavy pull, add extra turns. The half hitch is the start of a number of other hitches and is useful all by itself as a temporary attaching knot. It will hold against a steady pull on the standing part.

What to do:

Rope the bitter end of a line under the railing or through the eye and bring it over the top. String again in the same manner. This is the "round turn."

Make first half hitch, and keep going around line in same direction for second half hitch.

Sheet Bend
The Sheet Bend is commonly used to join two ropes of different diameters. It is better to use the sheet bend, rather than the square knot, to join two ropes. The sheet bend knot uses the "turn," not a round turn. (See the following illustration.)

What to do:

The bend is formed by inserting the bitter end of one line up through the bottom bight of the other line, then looping it once around the top of the bight (the "turn"). Pass the bitter end back between itself and the other line's bight. Pull tight.

Square Knot
The square knot is for tying two lines together or tying something down. It consists simply of two overhand knots, one on top of the other with the second being formed in the opposite direction from the first.

What to do:

Make an overhand knot. With the standing part in one hand and the bitter end in the other, create a bight by crossing the standing part and the bitter end, then loop the bitter through the bight, switching hands in the process. Pull tight.

Repeat in the opposite direction.