How NOT to tie a cleat hitch - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

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Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
OK, I admit it. I check how other people tie their lines on the cleats as I walk the docks. I can't help it. Until now I've just vaguely wondered why it seems so difficult for so many to tie such a simple hitch, but a few examples I've seen lately have pushed me over the edge to where I can no longer remain silent. How in the hell can it be so friggin' difficult to just make a round turn and some figure eights with a hitch at the end? Do people work at trying to make the most complicated knot ever created every time they tie their boat to the dock? Is there a secret competition for "most ridiculous imitation of a simple cleat hitch" that I'm unaware of? Am I just getting old and easily irritated (don't answer that, it will only pi** me off).


Good reminder why any sailor should never, ever be without a knife...

I once got into a silly pissing match on another forum re the Bumfuzzles, and their proud proclamation that they had sailed around the world without ever having learned to tie a bowline... "Why should you care whether they know how to tie a proper knot? If every one on their boat turns out to be a Gordian, that's their problem, no?" was the opposing argument...

Well, if you happen to be in close proximity to another boat so secured in a blow, or other emergency, dealing with such bizarre mooring configurations on another boat, that cannot be untied under load, that might pose a threat to yours can be a serious problem... I had a very dicey situation years ago during a flood on the Erie Canal, when we had to try to adjust the lines on a nearby unattended boat that was secured in such an idiotic fashion... it was fortunate we had a few lines to spare aboard our own boat, there was no way we could release the extreme loads being placed on the rat's nest on the other without cutting a couple... (they had used another favorite technique, that of using a single very lengthy line to serve as both a bow, spring, and breast lines - drives me nuts when I see that one, too (grin))

Unfortunately, power boaters don't have exclusivity on this sort of stuff... It's pretty sad how often I see sailors tying a cleat hitch using an initial upside-down locking turn, that can be impossible to release under load...
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post #12 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

Flemish flake/coil to finish is a nice touch. Missing that is not as egregious as an improper cleat hitch, unless 20 ft of line is just dog piled on the dock. A monkey braid is perfectly acceptable too, and one might argue better for the line.


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post #13 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

Thanks. I have seen (and been taught) to finish my dock line cleat hitch two different ways- with and without an upside-down locking turn. I do not know which is correct.

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post #14 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

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Originally Posted by FirstCandC View Post
Thanks. I have seen (and been taught) to finish my dock line cleat hitch two different ways- with and without an upside-down locking turn. I do not know which is correct.
This is the only correct way: (note.... two rivers and a bridge is the way it will always appear when completed correctly)

Cleat Hitch | How to tie the Cleat Hitch for a Halyard | Boating Knots

Note that this site also has what they call a deck cleat hitch, which makes no sense whatsoever. It never actually hitches down at all. Ignore it.


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post #15 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

jrd, that second picture looks like hair in a shower drain!
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

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I completely agree. A proper cleat hitch is an acid test. Two rivers and a bridge.......

It really kills me when marina staff themselves can't do it correctly.
Yeah, don't get me started on dockhands who can's tie a proper cleat hitch, but have all your lines finished with Flemish coils before you've even shut the engine(s) down... Now, I don't have the stats to back this up, but I'd venture a guess that I have immediately undone as many Flemish Coils fashioned by dockhands as anyone else out there, they're just not my style... (grin)

If they're the owner's preference, I'll always leave the boat secured in that fashion, of course... But, if left over time, such coils can be rather unhealthy for the rope, some real nastiness can start breeding on the dark and damp underside... I've picked up boats in Florida that have sat for extended periods, and after having had to use some sort of prybar to open the hardened knot on the cleat, the tail of the rope winds up looking like it could be pressed into service as a Mosquito Coil...


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post #17 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

The knot is certainly bad but who uses poly line for a dock line? That cleat will not be there for long if there is a good blow.

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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

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..... Flemish Coils fashioned by dockhands as anyone else out there, they're just not my style... (grin)

...... I've picked up boats in Florida that have sat for extended periods, and after having had to use some sort of prybar to open the hardened knot on the cleat, the tail of the rope winds up looking like it could be pressed into service as a Mosquito Coil........
Fair point. Flemish flakes/coils are not necessarily good for the line, but they look professional and tidy. They should be undone cleaned, dried and redone from time to time. Perhaps in the opposite direction.

We leave our lines on the dock permanently. Even when away for a week or two. I do use the coil. I would say I kick them open about every two or three weeks and spray the line and dock down with the hose I am using to rinse the boat.

No doubt, I've found dust, dirt and occasionally the beginning of mold underneath them.


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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

If in a storm, where the pier is likely to be covered with water, be careful of "proper" and "improper" cleat hitches. They will work undone in a combination of wave action and line going slack as wind veers. Extra turns on the cleat don't look good but don't hurt...coiled line just comes uncoiled and holds nothing (but looks good). As added insurance, for storms, I put a couple of half hitches (last one reversed) in the tail of a cleated line around the standing part of the dock line. I've seen boats damaged in named storms after the cleated line worked loose due to wave action. (Had one of my own partially untie also and those extra turns may have saved the day.)

Also clove hitch variations to tie to the piling. They too will work loose if the line goes alternately loose and tight. A boat on my pier lost it's mast a couple of weeks ago in a bad thunder storm as a result of line coming loose.

I'm sure lots of people will say it's a no-no, but I like to tie my lines to pilings with a couple of half hitches (again, last one reversed), and pulled tight to the piling. It stays where I put it and doesn't slip down the piling as do loose loops of any type that tend to work down piling, then hang up, causing dock line to grind on the boat's fiberglass (if you don't have chocks). Hard to get undone, but that's not too big a price to pay.
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post #20 of 57 Old 06-19-2013
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Re: How NOT to tie a cleat hitch

Fastest Way to Tie a Cleat Hitch

95 Catalina 30 Island Time

The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." - Henry David Thoreau

Last edited by JimMcGee; 06-19-2013 at 09:45 AM.
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