Know Your Knots!
| October 24, 2013

Guests often remark on the impressive skills of the Star Clippers crew. These guys are true sailors! Let’s take a look at one of the first steps towards becoming a professional sailor — knots!


Sailors know their knots. There are two general types you should know: bend and hitch. A bend is a knot that fastens rope ends together. A hitch loops a rope around itself to secure the boat to a rail or post.

There are hundreds of knots but only a few basics that should be on your practice list:

Bowline: A bowline knot is your standby. It creates a loop at the end of a top, is strong and easy to untie. If you know the old saying, the rabbit comes out of his hole, ’round the tree and back down into his hole, you already know the bowline. When in doubt, use this knot.

Square knot: The square knot, or reef knot, is used to tie two ropes (lines) of the same size together. You may be familiar with it from Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, first-aid class or from tying your shoelaces.


Clove hitch: This loop is a quick way to temporarily moor a small boat to a ring, rail or post.

­Round turn and two half hitches: This knot is frequently used to secure a boat to the docking ring or post.

Figure-of-eight: This stopper knot is used to prevent a rope from unraveling or slipping out of a ring or other device. This type of knot is essential in both sailing and rock climbing.

Sheet bend: Need a longer rope? A sheet bend knot is a quick way to fasten two lines temporarily.

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*The photos in this post are not meant to represent the knots described.

*This post is an excerpt from the article How Sailing Works by Maria Trimarchi. For the full article click here

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