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Old 11-14-1998
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The Seven Knots Sidebar

The 7 knots

1. Bowline

This sailor's knot is easy, strong and secure. Its beauty lies in that the greater the load on it, the tighter it holds. Yet it is always easy to untie. These qualities make the bowline the first knot of choice and the first knot to learn. You can use the bowline to secure the genoa sheets to the sail, make a lasso to slip over pilings (a running bowline), attach the dinghy painter to a ring or handle, and attach a line to an anchor, among many uses.

2. Sheet bend

This is the most common knot for tying together two lines of same or of different sizes. Like the bowline, the more pressure applied, the stronger the knot. If you can already tie a bowline, you can tie a sheet bend. You simply use two pieces of line instead of one. (Make sure that the lines are not too different or the knot loses its effectiveness).

3. Clove hitch

The clove hitch is commonly used when docking to tie your boat to a post or piling. With a slipped end, the clove hitch is our favorite knot for tying boat fenders to the lifelines or tops of stanchions. You can simply pull the slipped end and the whole knot unties.

4. Round turn, two half hitches

This knot is often used as an alternative to the clove hitch. You can secure a line to a piling, ring, hook or handle while supporting high loads. It is also used to secure a line to an anchor.

5. Figure eight knot

Probably the easiest of all knots to tie, you tie the stopper knot at the end of a jib sheet or halyard. It ensures that the line will not inadvertently feed back through your fairlead or block. Note: Never tie a stopper knot to spinnaker sheets as they may need to be quickly released to run through.

6. Reef knot (or square knot)

The reef knot is a multi-purpose, flat, symmetrical knot that forms a square when tied. It is useful when reefing the mainsail. It’s easy to untie by pulling one end at a 90-degree angle. Do not mistake this knot for a granny, which does not stay secure. The reef knot should lie flat after tying. This knot is never used with lines of different sizes or unequal fiber properties because slippage can occur.

7. Trucker’s hitch (Sue’s favorite)

The trucker’s hitch started as a way to secure goods or a load to a wagon. Since this hitch provides a purchase of 2:1, its primary advantage over other knots is that it can be drawn extremely tight. It is very handy for lashing any number of items on deck. The loop can be made by tying a harness loop, or simply a half hitch. (Note that the half hitch will work fine as a loop, but will be difficult to untie later.)

- - S.H. & L.H.

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