For beginners, this is an excellent place to start! Grab a piece of line and get to practicing. For those who are a little further along, this is a good time to put the rope behind your back and practice these knots until you know them inside and out. I am always amazed when I meet seasoned sailors who don’t have these basic knots down!
The Clove Hitch
This knot is frequently used for securing a vessel to a piling, post or pole. It is also commonly used for securing fenders to a railing along with many, many other uses.
The Cleat Hitch
This knot is frequently tied incorrectly even by seasoned sailors. To ensure an easy release after there has been tension on the line, it is important that you are turning the final loop so that the bitter end lines up with the loop beneath it as shown.
The Figure Eight Knot
This is a great knot to use as a stopper for your jib sheets and any other lines that run the risk of flying free.
The Half Hitch
This knot is extremely useful for a variety of situations. I had an old boss who used to always say, “three half hitches will save the world.” Every time he tied the knot, he tied it 3x because he believed nothing could be stronger.
If there’s one knot that I use frequently not just in sailing, but also in my life outside of sailing, it’s the bowline. Anytime you need an unbelievably strong loop that will not tighten under tension, you want a bowline. If you’re a beginner and you master this knot before day one – your instructor will be VERY proud. For those who know it: practice it backwards, upside down, with your opposite hand, etc.
Once you get into the habit of learning how to tie the right knots for the right situations, you’ll be amazed at how frequently you use them. It’s great to be the handy one out of all your friends who actually knows what they’re doing!