When first learning to sail, some of the most essential things to know are the different types of knots and what they are used for. Knots are very useful in many ways, for example you need knots to dock, anchor, and sail your boat. There are many types of helpful knots to learn, however, no need to feel overwhelmed; you can get by with learning only a few essential knots at first. Once you have mastered those you can move on to others.
Four quick and useful knots to start with are the bowline, clove hitch, cleat hitch, and the sheet bend.
The bowline is one of the most popular knots used, it is a quick and simple knot that can be tied to a fixed object. You can also tie any two fixed lines together with this knot. Turning the end of your rope into a hoop makes this knot. It tightens under pressure but can also be untied easily when needed.
The clove hitch knot, though not as secure as the bowline, is another knot that is quick and simple but extremely useful at the same time. This knot is commonly used when docking, to hang the fenders over the side. The end of the line should be wrapped around the post you are attaching to. The line would then be crossed over it and wrapped again. The wrapped part of the rope is then slightly loosened; the end slipped under, and then just gives it a few pulls to make sure it is strong and secure.
The cleat hitch knot has a variety of uses. Just as the name expresses, a cleat knot is simply a knot that attaches to a cleat to secure your boat. A cleat is a metal object that is typically attached to a dock in which a rope from a boat can be securely attached to. A cleat hitch knot’s uses include docking your boat, anchoring, and towing smaller vessels among a few.
A sheet bend knot is used to attach two lines together and is also used when a stronger knot is needed as reinforcement. First making a loop in one of the lines creates this knot with the working part over the standing part. Starting below the loop, feed the second line through the loop. The end is then passed behind the standing part of the first line. Pass the end over and through the loop and pull to tighten.
Although there are several commonly used knots while sailing, these four should get you started and on your way. The more practice you have using them the more comfortable you will be when it’s time to sail.