How To Tie Sailing Knots

how to tie sailing knots

Tying knots is an art, rooted in the origins of sailing. Having appeared centuries ago, it still has not lost its relevance. More than that, mastering the skill of tying knots correctly, should be possessed by everyone who goes to the open sea on a boat or yacht.

Any marine knot should be tied tightly and reliably, as safety depends on this in many respects. At the same time, it should be possible to quickly release it when necessary.

If you want to get to know the basics of tying marine knots, this guide is for you!

Beginner Tips

Beginners tips:

It is often difficult for beginners to understand the terminology used to explain the basics of tying boating knots, so it is worth learning a few basic definitions beforehand:

  • Root end – fixed end of a cable or rope;
  • The running end is free, i.e., loose end, from which all movements begin when tying any of the knots.

It is also good to know that in International nautical terminology the following classification applies:

  • Knot – nodes that are characterized as weaving or linking the running end with the root;
  • Bend – nodes that are marked as the interweaving of the running ends of two cables for combining into one;
  • Hitch – nodes that are used for attaching the running end to an object.

Beginners in the marine business need to master the basic types of nodes that are most often used in practice. Based on those, it is already easy to understand the principle of the formation of other varieties.

Main marine nodes

Gazebo knot

The gazebo/bowline is one of the most important marine nodes, which should be mastered first by every sailor-to-be. It contains elements of various naval units, which makes it almost universal. It is for insurance, for mooring, and for attaching the cable to the hook. The binding of two cables by this maritime knot is considered to be the most reliable.

A significant benefit of the gazebo is the possibility of its use for cables of any diameter and any material. It easily knits, does not slide along the rope, it is easy to untie it, but at the same time, it never gets loose and is exceptionally reliable. Because of this versatility, the bowline is often called the king of sea knots.

Gazebo knot

How to tie a gazebo:

  1. Create a loop from top to bottom;
  2. Stretch the running end through the running end;
  3. Pull the running end behind the root one and take it through the loop again, after which the running end should end up in another loop;
  4. Tighten it well.

Although the bowline is quite strong, it will not be a problem to untie it; you just need to slightly move the loop of the running end with respect to the root end, which is slightly weakened.

Eight Knot

Eight Knot

Eight is a typical classic marine knot, named according to the number its form resembles. It serves as a basis for many other nodes and is usually used as a stop knot and a fixing knot. The main advantage of the eight is the ease of tying and untying, even in cases of wet cable.

How to tie an eight knot:

  1. Take the running end around the main, and then pull it over, thereby forming a loop;
  2. Pull the running end into the formed loop, but make sure to wound it up around itself beforehand;
  3. Tighten it firmly;
  4. Straighten and shape the knot.

Straight Bend

Straight Bend

This node is one of the oldest marine knots, which the ancient Greeks called with the name of Hercules.

Its primary purpose is to tie two cables of the same diameter. A straight knot is used rather often but is far from being the most reliable one.

Its main disadvantage is the possibility of sliding down the cable. It may also tighten under heavy loads or when wet. Thus, in such cases, it is better not to use it.

A straight knot is tied up quite simply: one running end in one direction, and the other one in the opposite direction. To untie it, you have to pull the running and root ends in different directions.

Simple half-bayonet hitch

A simple half-bayonet is a widespread simple, non-protracting marine knot that underlies more complex variations of this kind.

To knit it, it is necessary to circle the running end around the object to which the cable will be attached, and then rotate it around the root end.

After that, pass it through the loop formed. This way, the running end is attached to the root one. Such a unit is highly reliable and can withstand strong traction.

Simple bayonet

Simple bayonet

A simple bayonet is a more complex version of a simple half-bayonet, which is formed from two such nodes. Its main purpose is to fasten the mooring ends to the berths or tow. No more than three half-bayonets should be forming such a knot. A larger number will in no way affect the strength and reliability of the knot, which is eloquently testified by the English proverb, which states that three half-bayonets are enough even for a royal yacht.

Simple bayonet with lock

Simple bayonet with lock

A simple bayonet with a lock is a marine unit, similar to a simple bayonet, with only one additional lock around the item to which the cable is attached. It is also used for mooring, especially during long-term parking, as it is more reliable than the simple one.

Fishing Bayonet / Anchor Hitch

Fishing Bayonet / Anchor Hitch

The fishing bayonet/anchor unit is one of the oldest and most reliable nodes, which is used to attach the cable to the anchor. It is also implemented during all work types with cables under the influence of strong traction.

Fastening hitch

Fastening hitch

This node is useful when mooring the sailing vessel. The cable is pulled between shoreside or shipboard bitts and then circled around them several times.

Marlinespike hitch

 This node is a bit more profound for the competence of a beginner. However, it is good to know, at least in theory.

Marlinespike hitch

The marlinespike hitch is used, for example, when passing various tools (piles, brushes, etc.) to a worker on the mast, or when tightening a tench. In addition, it is essential when securing the cables to the stops made between the side and the berth while the vessel is stationary.

To tie it, put a small peg to the cable in the place where the node is supposed to be. After that, a double folded cable is placed over it and tightened.

With Eyes Closed

The described units are just a small part of the great variety of nodes used during sailing. The ones that have been covered may build up a basis, over which other, more difficult knots could be learned.

It is crucial to master knitting skills at such a level that even with your eyes closed, you could easily tie a node required in a particular situation. For this matter, practice is one of the main conditions.

Experienced sailors say that for especially complex nodes, it may take months of practice before the process becomes automatic for the hands. And yet, tying knots is one of the many things one should learn to be ready for the adventures that the open sea beholds!

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