Learning to Sail Basics – Tying Sailing Knots

Published: 11th January 2012
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Sailing lines and ropes are important in handling sailboats. Different types of sailing knots are one of the basic skills that one should need to know when learning to sail. Lines and ropes are fundamental parts of a boat and they are used when docking, mooring and anchoring the boat. They are also used when controlling the sails. Ropes are either made of synthetic materials or natural fibers and they can be twisted together or interwoven.

When learning to sail, it is essential to know the different types of sailing knots. The working or running end and the standing part are the two ends of a line. The working end is where the knots are done. You don’t form knots on the standing end while bights are found at the end of the rope. Ropes or lines are heavy and can be very expensive depending on material. Knotting is important in learning to sail not only to handle your sailboat but to able to use those ropes safely and repeatedly in controlling the sails and securing the boat.

Here are the basic sailboats knots that are commonly taught when learning to sail:

- Overhand or Thumb knot

- Square knot

- Figure eight

- Bowline

- Clove hitch

- Double half-hitch

To do an Overhand knot, cross the running end to the standing part of the rope to form an overhand loop. The running end is crossed behind the standing part and then through the loop. Overhand knot is the simplest knot and easiest to learn. It used as a stopper knot and prevents the rope from running through the mast.

Square knot or Sailor’s knot are two overhead knots and usually used as a binding knot. Form a half knot by crossing two ropes. Do this twice and pull the ends twice and you will form a Square knot.

Figure Eight knot is also used as a stopper knot. However, Figure Eight knot can be undone easily even if the line or rope is wet. To do this, cross the running end behind the standing part to form an underhand loop. Bring the running end over the standing part. From under, run it around through the loop then pull it tightly.

Bowline or the King of knots has many uses. It is also used to secure a line. With load on the standing end, it cannot be untied easily. Two Bowlines can secure two lines together. It can be done using one hand only. Bowline is usually tied to an object which it needs to be tied, and then the running end is crossed over the standing part to form an overhand loop. From under, run the end through the loop. The running end is wrapped around the back of the standing part then run it back again where it came.

The Clove hitch is used mainly to tie a line or rope to a post. At the working end of the line, form a loop then place it over the post. Form another loop same as the first one. Put it over the post and tightly secure it.

Double half-hitch are two half hitches. You can use this to attach the sailboat’s line to a pole or mooring buoy. Loop the line twice on the pole then tie two half hitches on the same direction.

Learning these basic knots is very helpful when learning to sail. Lines or ropes have its different uses or purpose. The rope is your tool to secure the boat and sail well.

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