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Boater Blog

Tips & Tricks #3 - Knots & Hitches

Knots and learning how to tie them are great tools for anyone to know. Here we will talk about some of the basic knots and hitches commonly used on and off the water and how they can be used. For detailed instructions on how to tie the knots we will provide a link with animated directions. For our purposes we will only describe the knot and its uses in general terms.

Overhand - This one is almost as easy as tying your shoes, which is essentially taking the tail ends and doubling them over to make a bight (a bend in the rope. Think of your shoelace loops.) then pulling them back through. An overhand knot is the same but without the bights. This is a great stopper knot for the end of the rope or to secure any extra tail on one of the knots listed below. Once tied and pressure is applied it can be difficult to remove. (Overhand tying instructions)

Bowline - This is one of the best knots you can learn. Forms a fixed loop at the end of a rope. Easily applicable in all types of uses, the Bowline is great because once tied it does not slip and is extremely strong. When untying though it still allows itself to be undone despite previously having tension on it. Excellent for hauling, hoisting, securing boats, and can also be done one-handed. (Bowline tying instructions)

Water knot - Used for tying lengths of webbing together. Essentially this is an overhand knot on one piece of the webbing then using the other piece of webbing to reverse follow the knot back through on top of each other. A great example of their use is by making anchor systems for swiftwater rescue scenarios. Note: once these knots are tied and pressure is applied they are near impossible to remove. (Water knot tying instructions)

Figure 8 - used as a loop in the middle or end of the rope and as a stopper knot. It is very similar to the Overhand knot but with a literal twist in the loop, allowing it to still function properly but allowing it to be untied easier if needed. This knot is a great way of tying into a harness for a belay and with practice can be tied either separately or around an object. (Figure 8 tying instructions)

Double Fisherman’s - This is the standard knot for joining ropes and is the first step in forming a Prusik loop. The Double in the name refers to the amount of times the rope is wrapped in the tying process and can be done more than twice, however no less than 2 wraps is recommended. (Double Fisherman’s instructions)

Prusik - Using the Double Fisherman’s knot, by connecting two ends this makes a loop of rope or cordage. Then by wrapping this loop around the line, it grips under tension but releases otherwise. Used for anchors, securing gear into a boat, making an extension for a Trucker’s hitch, or setting up a Z-drag pulley system. (Prusik tying instructions)

Trucker’s hitch - This is probably my favorite and most used hitch. Great to secure items by using the force and tension of the rope as a mechanical advantage system. Excellent at tying down rafts to vehicles, tightly securing gear, and lashing down tents or tarps. (Trucker’s hitch instructions)

Clove hitch - Used to secure a line to a post or pole (Ex. tie up a horse) This hitch is a quick way to secure gear where tension holds the hitch closed. When tension is removed it falls apart. Great at hanging gear from above or lashing to a tree. (Clove hitch instructions)

Girth hitch - Able to secure gear with a quick release. This hitch is like the clove hitch in that it needs tension to work however the difference is that this knot will not collapse by releasing tension the way the Clove hitch will. I use this to tie in my coiled rope by forming a Girth hitch on the tail then running it through the D-ring on the raft. This allows it to be tied in but for me to access it quickly when needed. (Girth hitch instructions)

Again, these are just a few of the many, many knots there are out there and we suggest doing your own research to learn more. The info above is merely a starting point to learn basics and expand from there. The key is just like anything else, practice, practice, practice! Let us know how you use these and other knots in the outdoors and happy tying!


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