Knowing how to tie a few basic knots is essential to a boater's security. The art of knot tying is known as "Marlinspike." Good sailors take pride in their ability to chose and tie knots. Below are 7 Basic Knots you should know....If you master these knots, you'll be way ahead of most recreational boaters in your knowledge of marlinespike. For practice, a section of rope six feet long with a diameter of 3/8" is a good size. Tie each knot several times to make a mental picture of the sequence. With practice you'll be able to tie each knot without thinking about it.

NOTE: The end of the line that you work with in tying knots is called the "Bitter End." The main length of line is the "Standing Part."

Two Half Hitches

This reliable knot is quickly tied and is the hitch most often used in mooring. To tie: two half hitches
  1. Pass end of rope around post or other object.
  2. Wrap short end of rope under and over long part of rope, pushing the end down through the loop. This is a half hitch.
  3. Repeat on long rope below first half hitch and draw up tight.


This knot doesn't jam or slip when tied properly. To tie: bowline
  1. Make the overhand loop with the end held toward you, then pass end through loop.
  2. Now pass end up behind the standing part, then down through the loop again.
  3. Draw up tight.

Figure Eight

This knot is ideal for keeping the end of a rope from running out of tackle or pulley. To tie: figure eight
  1. Make underhand loop, bringing end around and over the standing part.
  2. Pass end under, then up through the loop.
  3. Draw up tight.

Square Knot

This knot is used at sea in reefing and furling sails.
Square Knot                    
To tie:
  1. Pass left and over and under right end. Curve what is now the left end toward
    the right and cross what is now the right end over and under the left.
  2. Draw up tight.

Anchor Bend

Anchor Bend This knot is used to secure a rope or a line to an anchor. To tie:
  1. Pass two loops through ring.
  2. Place free end around standing line.
  3. Pass free end through loops.
  4. Complete by making half hitch.

Clove Hitch

Clove HitchThis knot is the "general utility" hitch for when you need a quick, simple method of fastening a rope around a post, spar or stake. To tie:
  1. Make a turn with the rope around the object and over itself.
  2. Take a second turn with the rope around the object.
  3. Pull the end up under the second turn so it is between the rope and the object. Tighten by pulling on both ends.

Cleat Hitch

In order to secure the boat to a dock or secure a line to the boat you will probably use the cleat hitch.
  1. Take the line to the ear of the cleat furthest from where the line comes from the boat (or load).
  2. Take one wrap around the base of the cleat and then start a figure eight across the top of the opposite ear.
  3. Finish with a half hitch turned under so that the line is coming away from the cleat in the opposite direction from which it came in.

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