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Knots That Every Sailor Must Know

Knots that every sailor must know

Surely no self-respecting sailor would tie his boat with the first rope that fell into his hands or with the first knot that went through his head, if he had, the it wouldn’t be surprising to soon find that boat a drift somewhere.

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It is well known that within the nautical world, each knot must be made according to the different uses and different tasks that are going to be undertaken. In this article, we have decided to show you a couple of sailor knots so you can learn how to make them. We encourage you to leave us your comments!


The bowline is one of the most commonly used nautical knots and absolutely every sailor should know it. It ties quickly and unties even more easily. An extremely tight and secure knot that will not jam and is used in all cases where a permanent or easy-to-carry loop is required. The only drawback of this node is that it is practically impossible to untie it when the rope is tightened. In that case, you can leave a stub at the open end, the pulling of which can easily loosen this node.

Bowline Knot Tying Instructions:

 sailor knot bowline

–    Lay the rope across your left hand with the free end hanging down. Form a small loop in the line in your hand.

–    Bring the free end up to and pass through the eye from the underside (the rabbit comes out of the hole).

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–    Wrap the line around the standing line and back down through the loop (around the tree and back down the hole).

–    Tighten the knot by pulling on free end while holding the standing line


The most common use of this knot is to merge two ropes with the same or similar diameter, that need to be untied after that. Very solid and reliable knot but, if exposed to heavy load, it is difficult to untie it. In that case, it is useful to leave a spat at one end.

Square Knot Tying Instructions:

nautical square knot

  • Tie two over hand knots. First, right over left and twist. Then left over right and twist.
  • Make sure both parts of the rope exit the knot together!


Another knot that every sailor must know. The most common use is to fast bind to the beam or to attach the fender to the fence. Its advantages are that is extremely quick and easy to bind, it is very easy to extend and shorten and easy to untie. Its disadvantage is that it will slip if not under tension and will slip when tied with nylon rope. Always remember this disadvantage and when you think that the end is loosened, secure it with a plain knot.

Clove Hitch Knot Tying Instructions:

clove hitch sailing knot

–    Wrap the free end of a rope around a post.

–    Crossover itself and around the post again.

–    Slip working end under the last wrap.

–    Pull tight.


The anchor bend or anchor hitch is also extremely secure and stronger than the bowline, and is used when it is necessary to have a permanent connection. For this reason, it is most commonly used to a ring or similar termination, and to tie anchors to a buoy.

Anchor Bend Knot Tying Instructions:

anchor bend knot nautical

  • Make two turns around the shackle, leaving turns open.
  • Pass free end behind the standing line and feed the free end through the first turns and pull tight.
  • Now tie a half hitch around the standing line and pull tight.
  • Seize the free end or tie the knot with a long tag end and tie a backup knot such as one half of a Double Fisherman with the tag end around the standing part.


The Figure 8 knot is a stopper knot, and one of the top most important for sailors. It is used to put a stopper at the end of a rope or line to stop it from running away through a pulley, block or fender eye. This knot can always be untied, even after a load. It is simple to make and has the shape of the number eight as its name suggests.

Figure 8 Knot Tying Instructions:

figure 8 nautical knot

  • Tie a single eight in the rope two feet from its end. Pass the free end through any tie-in point if desired.
  • Retrace the original eight with the free end leaving a loop at the bottom of the desired size.
  • Pull all four strands of rope to cinch down the knot.
  • Add a backup knot for extra security.
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