When it comes to boating, there are many different types of knots that you’ll need to learn how to use for things like securing line, towing, anchoring, and more.
This beginner’s guide to knots for boaters covers five of the most basic boating knots that boaters should know.
The first, and most important, knot you need to learn is the bowline, or “the king of knots.” The knot creates a loop at the end of a line that can be used for securing lines and attaching them together – which comes in handy for tasks like mooring. With just a little practice, you can master this easy, multi-purpose knot.
Step 1: Start a couple feet from the end of the line. Make a small loop. Pass the end of the line through the loop.
Step 2: Take the end of the line and wrap it around the line above the loop. Put the end back in the loop and pull it through.
Step 3: Tighten the knot by holding either end of the line around the loop and tugging in either direction.
The square knot, or “reef knot,” may not be the strongest or most secure knot, but it’s a great go-to when you need something quick. You’ll find it useful for tying things like packages or tying two ropes together, and it can even be used to tie a bandage for first aid.
Step 1: Hold the ends of the rope in your hands, one end in each.
Step 2: Take the right end and pass it over the left, then under. When done correctly, the ends of the rope should switch hands.
Step 3: Lightly pull either end of the rope to add some slack.
Step 4: Take the left end and pass it over the right, then under. This is the same as Step 2, but in the opposite direction.
Step 5: Pull both ends at the same time to tighten the knot.
The clove hitch is a great knot that can be used for temporarily securing fenders, securing a line to a rail, and more. This isn’t a strong knot, so it shouldn’t be used for heavy-duty tasks, but with a little practice it’s one you can learn to tie with just one hand, making it a super useful one to know. There are two different ways to tie it.
To tie around a rail, wrap the line around the rail two times. The second wrap should cross over the top of the first. Pass the end of the line underneath the wrap, then pull it to tighten the knot.
To tie around a pole, loop the line of the end of the pole. Make a second loop, passing the line under it toward the first loop, and pull it to tighten the knot.
If you need a stronger knot that’s like the square knot, you can use the sheet bend. This knot can be used to connect two different ropes and other boating purposes.
Step 1: Make a loop in the thicker rope.
Step 2: Pass an end of the thinner rope through the loop you made in the thicker rope.
Step 3: Wrap the thinner rope under the thicker rope.
Step 4: Pass the thinner line under itself to tuck it in. The two ends should fall on the same side of the knot. Tighten the knot by pulling the ends.
The fisherman’s bend, otherwise known as the “improved cinch knot” or “anchor hitch,” is a strong knot although it can be untied easily. It’s great for tying a rope to an anchor or a hook to a fishing line.
Step 1: Take the end of the line and wrap it around what you are tying it to five times.
Step 2: Place the end of the line over the rope, pass it through the loops you created in the wrap, and pull it through.
Step 3: Place the end of the line over the rope again and create another loop. Pull the line through and tighten the knot by pulling on both sides of the line.
Know Your Knots
We’ve covered the basics here to help you learn beginner level boating knots every boater should know, but there are plenty of knots you can learn to accomplish a variety of different boating tasks. Once you’ve mastered these, don’t be afraid to try to learn more!