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A Few Knots & Hitches That Everyone Should Know

21st March 2020

For some people, this may be second nature . But you’d be surprised just how many people we’ve come across who still haven’t got to grips with tying some basic but essential knots.

Knots (and hitches) are a crucial element of manning any fishing boat and those that are longer in the tooth than others will probably know more hundreds of ways to secure a rope. However, these basic skills have to be learnt somewhere. So, we thought it would be a good idea to kick off our series on knots and hitches with a simple guide to eight of the most useful knots and hitches to learn.

We’ve produced some simple video clips to guide you through the process and which show these knots being tied with a simple rope just so you get the idea. However, all of these knots can be tied using thicker rope using the same methods.

The Reef Knot

Used to tie two ends of one piece of rope together, the reef note is used in sailing for reefing and furling sails. It can also be used to secure objects to the deck and is one of the most common and ancient knots. Its use can be dated back as far as 9000 years ago and was known as the Hercules knot by the ancient Greeks.

The Figure Eight Knot

Commonly used in climbing, the figure eight knot is a type of stopper knot which can be used to stop a rope from coming loose in a block or pulley. Also known as a Flemish Loop, this type of knot is very traditional and is a fast and simple knot to learn.

The Rolling Hitch Knot

The rolling hitch knot can be tied in a couple of ways and is most commonly used to secure a rope to a pole, rod or other piece of rope. A friction hitch, this type of knot works best with traditional fibre ropes as synthetic rope may not hold fast. The rolling hitch is best when used to resist movement in a lengthwise direction in a single direction.

The Clove Hitch Knot

A useful knot to start lashings with, the clove hitch is another ancient way of tying off a rope. It is best as a crossing knot rather than to secure loads. The two ends can be adjusted to reposition the knot.

The Bowline Knot

A knot used to create a secure loop, most commonly for mooring, the bowline is referred to as the ‘king of knots’. It is one of the most basic maritime rope tying methods and also the simplest. Despite being a secure knot it is very easy to untie particularly after being under a load.

The Round Turn, Two Half Hitches

Used to secure a line to a fixed object, this hitch knot is easy to use and rarely slips or jams.

The Sheet Bend Knot

Used to tie two pieces of rope of differing thicknesses together the sheet bend is another common knot used in the marine industry. Though a secure knot, it does have a tendency to work loose if there is no load on it.

The Fisherman’s Bend Knot

A knot that is incredibly strong under pressure, the fisherman’s bend knot is easy to untie yet won’t slip with strain. It’s a very useful knot for securing two slippery or thin lines.

Further reading

Over the coming months, we'll return to the subject of knots as we look at other ways to secure ropes.

However, if you would like some further reading on knots and splices in the nautical world then we can recommend this book by Steve Judkins of Wiley Nautical - 'Knot Know-How: How to Tie the Right knot for every job: A New Approach to Mastering Knots and Splices

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