Episode #023: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Top 10 Sailing Knots

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This week on Your Pocket Sailing Instructor podcast we are digging into knots! This is a list of the top 10 knots I use when sailing. I think that they are valuable and you should learn them as well. Being able to tie quick, efficient and reliable knots is key for your sailing toolbox.

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Here’s my most recent episode:

#25: Purchasing & Owning a New Boat! Now What? Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

Top 10 Sailing Knots

#1 Bowline

  • Description: the bowline creates a non-slip loop.
  • Examples: use for jib sheets, dock lines, crew overboard recovery

#2 Rolling Hitch

  • Description: attach a rope to another rope whereby you can apply tension to the rope and the knot will not slip
  • Examples: use for winch overrides, anytime you need to remove load from a rope

#3 Round Turn & Two Half Hitches

  • Description: attach a rope to a ring, bar, pole or dock post.
  • Examples: use for docklines on a dock ring; use for fenders on toerail or handrail.

#4 Eight Knot

  • Description: simple, but effective, stopper knot.
  • Examples: use at ends of halyards and sheets (except spinnaker sheets)

#5 Reef Knot

  • Description: tie two lines of equal thickness together.
  • Examples: tying your sail tie ends together.

#6 Double Sheet Bend

  • Description: tie two lines of unequal thickness together.
  • Examples: tying your dinghy painter to a sternline.

#7 Cleat Hitch

  • Description: secure a line to a horn cleat.
  • Examples: dockline to dock cleat; halyard to horn cleat; sheets to horn cleat

#8 Highwayman’s Hitch

  • Description: quick release knot for temporarily securing a line.
  • Examples: quick tie down for tarp.

#9 Alpine Butterfly Loop

  • Description: creating a secure loop in the middle of a rope.
  • Examples: used when there is damage on a line; tarp tie down.

#10 Clove Hitch

  • Description: simple, quick and temporary hitch to fasten a rope to a post.
  • Examples: used for initial fender set up when docking; securing tiller.

Things to consider

Being able to tie a good knot is key for any sailor. This is part of your seamanship skills and a great addition to your toolbox. Make sure you are inspecting your ropes regularly for wear and tear. Practicing these knots on a variety of ropes will help you figure out which knots hold best in which type of rope (new ropes can be slippery!).

Where to find knot info?

There are a lot of books available for knots including the bible: The Ashley Book of Knots. Some of my favourites include: Knots: The Complete Visual Guide, RYA Knots, Splices and Ropework Handbook, and The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework.

Several websites and YouTube channels offer videos, photos and descriptions to help you learn knots. One of my favourites is Animated Knots.

Have fun learning these knots and let me know what some of your favourites are!

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