Know your Knots?
Know your knots?
There are a few knots that go a long way on the water, and I’m not talking about fishing knots. While I was in Coast Guard boot camp, there was one thing pounded into my brain every day. Knots! As a kid growing up around boats all the time I thought I had a grasp of the knots that were needed in everyday boating, and that was probably pretty true when it came to just one boat operating alone. But, after boot camp I was stationed at a small boat search and rescue station in Grand Isle, LA where all of the knots that I learned in boot camp came to be quite useful.
Here is a list of the knots that I learned in my early days that have helped me and others even to this day, both on and off of the water:
Slip Clove Hitch
And although not necessarily a knot, making a line off to a cleat or bitt
I am not going to show you how to tie these knots, because there are already plenty of videos out there on the internet that can show much better than I can, but here is a link to the Coast Guard Auxiliary that has most of these knots and some others that I haven’t covered.
The bowline is probably the most useful knot to know. It is used to create a temporary eye in a line. It is also easy to untie after it has been placed under a load and holds a good amount of breaking strength in the line. (Anytime you place a knot or even a bend in a line, it loses some of its resistance to breaking.)
The clove hitch and slip clove hitch are used to fasten things, like fenders to a rail to hang over the side of a boat. I prefer the slip clove hitch for this because removing the knot is a lot easier. You just pull on the end of the line and it is loose. I use the clove hitches to hang my mooring line up to dry after I have used them.
Making a line off to a cleat or bitt is most likely needed by every boater out there, in that, you will probably need to use a cleat of bitt anytime you launch, recover or moor your boat. It is simple to do but can be done wrong. What I was taught in the Coast Guard is take the line around the base of the cleat and then complete three figure eights around the horns followed by another round turn around the base. That worked in the Coast Guard but doesn’t always work on leisure boats. Some of the cleats on boats are too small to do that so a lot of people put a weather hitch in after one or two round turns. I tend to not do this because it was frowned upon in the Coast Guard, but I will do it if the cleat is too small for the line that I am using.
All in all, the more knots you are familiar with while boating, the better for you and other boaters. By that, I mean that if it comes to a situation where you need to tow someone or you need to be towed, there are a bunch of variables that need to be taken into consideration and each variable might call for a different knot/s. Variables like sea state, vessels tow line attachment points, vessel all around condition, experience of the boaters involved and a slew of other thing. To this day I still keep a short piece of line around to practice the basics and to learn new knots that I have seen.
We do offer training services to assist you with boat handling, which, can include knots if you desire.
If you have any comments or concerns, please let us know. And, as always, stay safe on the water!