5 Boating Knots You Need to Know When Sailing

boating knotsFeeling the wind rush through your hair as salt water sprays up from below the boat is exhilarating. As Bask in the warm glow of the sun and enjoy being outdoors on the open water. If this sounds like a great Sunday afternoon to you, check out these important boating knots to prepare yourself for the open water. It would be a shame is you arrived in a new port to go exploring, only to find out that your boat has drifted away when you return. Hopefully learning these boating knots will keep you safe and secure on your adventures.

It may seem like there are thousands of boating knots you need to learn. The truth is, you only need a few key boating knots to do most everything you need. Just remember it is important to practice these knots so that you remember how to tie them quickly when you are on a boat. Learning to tie these boating knots will put you far ahead of many of the boaters out there who don’t really know how to tie some of these, like the cleat hitch.

Boating Knot Uses

Because there are so many different types of boating knots it is important to learn what kind of knot you need for different things. It is very important to use the right knot when boating. Not all knots are universal and could cause some pretty big problems for you. Here are some common knot types you might need.

  • Joining two ropes together.
  • Make a loop at the end of a rope.
  • Make a loop in the middle of a rope.
  • Secure mooring line to the dock.
  • Attach rope to your anchor.
  • Stopper knots.
  • Loop round standing end.
  • Secure rope to flapping sail.
  • Attach Halyard.
  • Stop a ropes end fraying.
  • Slide and grip knots.
  • There are also a few extra miscellaneous quick knots you might use.

This is also useful to know if you need to look up a new boating know. Knowing exactly what you need it to do will make sure you learn a knot you can use. You need to select the best knot for the job when you are boating. Below are a few types of knots that should help you with a variety of those categories. If you find out they are not doing the job you can always look up some new boating knots.


boating knotsOne of the most common and important boating knots for you to learn how to tie is the Bowline. It can be used to create a loop at the end of a rope to put around a post. It is one of the most important and useful knots to know. It can even be used to tie two ropes together when you don’t have time to splice two ropes together. This is a great knot if you only have one hand to tie with, however it can work its way loose and is not a good boating knot to use for safety. This boating knot should also be avoided if you will have to untie it while it is bearing a load. It is impossible to tie or untie this knot when it is weighed down.

How to tie the bowline Knot:

  1. Form a loop near the end of the rope.
  2. Take the end and pass it under the loop and up through the top.
  3. Then pass it behind the main part of the rope and then back down into the loop it came up and out of.
  4. Grab the very end and the first part of the rope that you passed the end through and pull them both together to tighten.

Cleat Hitch

boating knotsThis is an important boating knot to learn for docking. This is another popular knot that you will use a lot on and off the boat. It may not be an all-purpose boating knot, but it is important to know when you need it. This is one of the knots that many people don’t really know how to tie correctly. They usually just wrap the rope around in a figure eight multiple times on the cleat. This is important to get right if you don’t want to be waving goodbye to your boat as it floats away from the dock because you didn’t tie the cleat hitch knot right. It is also going to impress your boating friends when they see you have tied it correctly the first time you go sailing with them.

How to tie the cleat hitch knot:

  1. Pass the line around the cleat and begin your wrap on the furthest edge from where the line originates.
  2. Make a figure eight by wrapping the rope down and around the other end of the cleat and then up and over to the other side. Continue to wrap it down and around the end of the cleat and back up. If there will be a lot of pressure on the line you may want to wrap it one or two more times.
  3. To lock this knot when finished, create a loop by passing the end under, then hook it around the end of the cleat and pull it tight. The tail should be pointing away from the origin of the rope.

Anchor Bend

boating knotsIf you plan to stop and do some fishing you may have to drop your anchor to keep the boat from drifting. In order to do that you need to secure the anchor to a rope with a boating knot. Use this knot to keep your anchor secured and your boat from drifting off into the sea.

How to tie the anchor bend knot:

  1. Take the end of the rope and pass it through the ring twice creating two loops.
  2. Wrap the end over and around the front of the rope.
  3. Pass the end through the side of the two loops.
  4. Finish it off by making a half hitch. Pull end around rope and through the loop.

Clove Hitch

boating knotsThe clove hitch is a very quick and useful boating knot. It is best to use it with other knots because it doesn’t hold as well as a knot like the bowline. It is very quick to tie, which makes it so useful. It’s very common to use this knot to hang your fenders over the sides when you are coming in to dock.

How to tie the clove hitch knot:

  1. Wrap the end over a bar or around a post.
  2. Cross over the main rope and wrap it again.
  3. Then slip the end of the rope under the last wrap and pull it tight.
  4. Give it a few good tugs to make sure it is locked. (Just remember this knot does not always hold very well.)

Figure Eight

boating knotsThe figure eight knot is perfect for keeping a rope from slipping out of sight. It is a quick stopper knot that does not bind, even if it is being jammed tightly, and can be untied easily.  Because of this you should keep an eye on figure eight knots because they can also come undone and have to be retied. You could also use another type of stopper knot with this one to make sure everything is very secure.

Here is how to tie the figure eight knot:

  1. Pass the end of the loop over itself to form a loop.
  2. Continue to pass the end under and around the rope.
  3. Pass the end down through the loop to complete the knot.

Know that you have a few boating knots under your belt you will be ready to head out sailing on your next adventure. Remember practice these boating knots until you can do them with your eyes closed. You want your muscle memory to kick in so that you can tie them with ease. If you enjoyed learning these boating knots you should continue learning how to tie new knots. There is nothing wrong with learning more and being very prepared.

If you are interested in exploring, check out a course on taking your first steps to flying. With the boating knot skills you have, and that knowledge, you will be able to explore the skies and the seas! If you plan on spending a lot of time out exploring the world you can also prepare by learning some new swimming techniques.