1. Figure-eight knot

We’ll start with an easy classic: the figure-eight. It is used to prevent ropes from running out of retaining devices, blocks or line lockers, it is a stopper knot. It is made by crossing the end of the rope over itself creating a little loop. The end is then brought around the rope and back through the little loop and can be tightened. Done.

5 Knots Every Sailor Should Know By HeartSource: Moxie & Epoxy

2. Bowline

The bowline is one of the most important knots among sailors, the king among knots. It has been used for over 500 years – and for good reason. It will create an incredibly tight loop that can withstand high tension and it is almost impossible to loosen it while it is bearing a load. It can be used for example to secure sheets to the clew of a headsail. It is also useful for docking as it can be thrown over a piling or tied around a pole.

A way to remember how to tie a bowline is as follows: The snake comes out of the pond, goes around the tree and then hides again in the pond. The snake is the working end, the tree and pond are formed by the standing end. Pull tight to close the knot. To untie, turn the knot around and bend it to “break” the knot. Done.

5 Knots Every Sailor Should Know By Heart

 Source: Moxie & Epoxy

3. Clove Hitch

The Clove Hitch is another useful knot used for securing fenders to the boat. It is can be easily changed to adjust the length of the rope for the fenders. It can also be used to tie a boat temporarily to a piling, post or pole. Since the knot will slip under pressure, it should not be used for securing the boat for longer periods of time.

To tie it, wrap the rope around the pole or object the fender or boat should be attached to. Cross it over itself and around the post again. Then loosen the second wrap slightly to slip the ends underneath it. Done.

5 Knots Every Sailor Should Know By Heart

Source: Moxie & Epoxy

4. Cleat Hitch

The next knot that is extremely useful to know is the cleat hitch. As the name suggests, it is used to secure a line to a cleat. It is similar to the clove hitch, but for tying around cleats. It can be used not only for docking in a marina but also for towing a dinghy or rigging a preventer. It is easy to tie but very secure and can also be easily untied if necessary.

To make the knot, start by wrapping the rope around the base of the cleat. After the wrap around the base, make a figure 8 shape around the horns of the cleat. On the second part of the figure 8, turn the loop, so the end lines up with the loop below and slide the loop over the cleat, pulling on the end to tighten. The end should point the other way from where it started. If there is enough space on the cleat and you want to make sure it is very secure, you can make more figure 8 moves around the cleat. Done.

5 Knots Every Sailor Should Know By Heart
Source: Moxie & Epoxy

5. Reef Knot

The reef knot is used to tie a rope around and object or also to tie two ropes together. Be careful, however, since ropes of different thickness may easily slip. It is therefore not recommended to use it for critical loads or when a very secure knot is needed. To tie it, form a half loop with one end. Take the other end and put it over, under, around the two lines of the half loop, under and over again. While this may sounds complicated, looking at the picture below, will make it very clear how to tie the reef knot. Done.

5 Knots Every Sailor Should Know By Heart

Source: First Class Sailing

Now the only thing left to do before you get on a boat: practice! It really does make perfect 🙂