Boating Knots

Your Guide to 3 Commonly Used Boating Knots

From putting down an anchor while you fish to securely docking your vessel at the end of the day, knots play an important role in boating safely. To help you get the most out of your on-the-water adventures, Automotive Training Center (ATC) created this guide to three boating knots boat owners should learn now and practice often!

  1. Cleat Hitch

Cleat Hitch Boat KnotThe cleat hitch knot comes in handy for securing your boat to a cleat on a floating dock, boat lift, or deck. When properly tied, this knot holds strong while releasing with little effort on the part of the boater, making it a convenient option.

To tie a cleat hitch knot:

  • Line your rope around the base of the cleat starting at the bottom.
  • Take the rope around the first horn of the cleat in a criss-cross pattern and repeat on the other horn.
  • Form a final loop by passing the rope under itself and pulling tightly to secure.
  1. Bowline Knot

A staple knot to sailors, the bowline is a versatile knot that creates a set loop with dependable strength, and quick and stress-free untying—regardless of how long tension is put on the line. The bowline may be used to join two lines together, or is commonly used to trim a jib sail on a sailboat for faster and more controlled sailing.

How to tie a nautical bowline knot:

  • Create a loop by using the free end of the line, as well as the line, by crossing the free end over the line (sometimes referred to as a rabbit hole).
  • Take the free end through the rabbit hole from underneath.
  • Next, wrap the free end around the tight part of the line, then back down the open loop.
  • Pull on the free end to secure.
  1. Figure Eight Knot

Figure Eight Boat KnotWhen you need a steadfast, no-slip knot, turn to the figure eight, or Flemish knot. This knot is so strong and reliable that rock climbers often use it to secure their harness, rope, and carabiner. This knot may be used by boaters to create a stop or anchor mid-line to prevent it from running through a hole.

Tie a figure eight knot:

  • Begin by creating a loop in your line with the rope end (similar to step one of the bowline knot).
  • Pass your rope end through the loop you made.
  • Pull both sides of the line to tighten—the end result should resemble a figure eight!

Secure Boating is Happy Boating

Time to take your newfound knowledge on the water. We hope you enjoyed learning about these three key boating knots. They’re quite simple to master, so with a little bit of practice you’ll be able to rig your line with a secure stopper, connection, or hold in a matter of seconds.

If you’d like to learn more about our best practices for boat owners, be sure to check out this ATC post about how to prepare your boat for summer.

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