Sailing knots tend to be a riddle wrapped in an enigma – we have all heard of them, but few people master the art of tying a good hitch. And yet this is an important nautical skill that will make your life easier on land and at sea, particularly if you opt for a bareboat yacht charter. Think of strong winds, the resulting high pressure and all sorts of extreme conditions you might encounter while roaming the seven seas – it is handy to know how to tie a strong, reliable knot!
Overall, a good hitch should have the following properties:
- It can be tied quickly
- It endures extreme pressure
- It can be undone easily
We are avid sailors here at Click&Boat, and we are always happy to help sailing novices learn the ropes. So get a rope, or just a gift ribbon, and get started!
The figure-of-eight-knot, is a very simple hitch that you have probably already used, albeit unconsciously. As the name implies, it is a stopper knot that is similar to the number eight and is mainly used to prevent ropes and cables from running out of retaining devices. Due to the knot at the end of the rope, it does not fit through eyelets, flattening sheets or traps and thus ensures that the sail is always well moored when the winds are strong.
Thanks to its relatively simple form, it can always be easily undone, even after heavy pressure. This is particularly important on a boat because the wind and the waves put immense pressure on the ropes. The next step is to use this knot to tie two ropes.
Similar to the eight knot, the square or cross knot is not only useful for sailors, but is also a well-known and useful hitch that you can use in everyday life. It is the perfect choice to tie together two equally thick ropes. This is particularly handy if a rope is not long enough or to tie the reefed sail to the boom. In case the rope rips apart, you can put it back together with a cross knot. Another option could be a more complicated hitch like the sheet bend.
The cross knot is not to be confused with the Indian knot or the thief knot. They are all very similar, but a cross knot is much stronger. You only need just one rope to tie a cross knot – just take the two ends of the rope and try to tie them according to the instructions.
If you charter a yacht, you will often use the weaving stitch, especially in the evening when you dock, as this knot is used to attach the fenders to the railing. The fenders serve as protection device for your own boat as well as other boats next to it by preventing a collision. This knot is always tied around railings or the bathing ladder, so it is mainly used to fasten something.
A particular advantage is that it is possible to undo it under pressure, but it can also be tied easily. This is very useful when it’s windy and you have to act quickly.
The name of this knot sounds a bit strange, but the bowline is essential for every sailor and is one of the most widely used sailing knots. In principle, this knot is a loop that does not tighten when pressed. The bowline is incredibly flexible and can be used in any situation. Above all, it is useful to moor, as the bow in the form of a loop is ideal for fasten the boat to bollards and cleats.
Unlike aforementioned sailing knots, the bowline is a little trickier and brings some sailing novices to despair. A certain mnemonic device would help you master this knot: make a “pond” with your rope, imagine the end of the rope is a snake and the rest of the rope on the other side of the pond is a tree. The snake comes out of the pond, winds around the tree around and then dives back into the pond. Simultaneously pull the tree on one side and the snake and the lake on the other, and voila! You have a bowline!
Just like the clove hitch, the cleat hitch is particularly important when you are mooring in a port with ropes and you are using cleats. Even if it is much more difficult to learn how to tie this knot at home without a proper cleat, it is essential for a yacht charter. A mooring manoeuvre in the harbour is always a challenge, but once you get your head around it will be fun. Check out these mooring spots in Greece!
A special thank you to Animated Knots, for their great knot GIFs!