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In a knot?

In a knot?

Knowing your knots is an important aspect of sailing. Impress your crew at this year’s RISKAFRICA Regatta by having a few knot tying techniques up your sleeve…


The bowline is the king of sailing knots. It has been in use by sailors for 500 years. Simply put, the bowline is way of turning the end of your line into a loop. Why is this useful? You can tie it around a post or other fixed object to make the line fast.

How to tie it:
Step 1: Form a loop near the end of the line. (How much of the line you leave will depend on how big you want the final knot to be.)

Step 2: Run the end of the line back through that loop.

Step 3: Next, run the line around the standing end and back through the small loop.

Step 4: Now grasp the end and pull the knot tight.

Step 5: You should have a large loop now! Congratulations, you’ve tied a bowline.




A clove hitch is an extremely useful and quick knot. It has the advantage of being very quick to tie and untie, but it doesn’t hold nearly as well as the bowline.

How to tie it:
Step 1: Wrap the end of the line around the post (or whatever you’re attaching it to).

Step 2: Cross the line over itself and wrap it around the post again.

Step 3: Loosen the last wrap slightly and slip the end under, then pull it taut. This is a way of ‘locking’ the knot.

Step 4: Give it a few tugs to make sure it’s secure, and you’re done!




As you might imagine, this is used all the time on a sailboat, whether you’re docking, towing a dinghy, or rigging a preventer. Knowing how to do it will make you a much handier sailing companion!

How to tie it:
Step 1: Make a wrap around the base of the cleat. Begin your wrap on the edge furthest away from where the line originates.

Step 2: Make a figure 8 on the cleat.

Step 3: Add a hitch to the final turn to lock it. Do this by making a loop with the tail end underneath, hook it around the cleat, and pull taut. The tail end should be pointing away from the line’s origin.