Even if it's the first time you have ever been on a boat, learning a few basic knots is not only fun, but useful too. Any competent crew member should be able to tie these basic knots.
The King of Knots! If there is only one knot you ever learn - let this be the one! A useful, strong non-slip loop knot for so many situations, not only sailing. The key to getting this right is the first twist of the rope. Then you can follow this cute anecdote to help you remember the moves. “The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree and back into the hole. This little saying works time and time again and is the best way to teach your little sailors this principal knot. Great for securing the dock lines when mooring. Practice, though. If you get it wrong, it won’t hold!
Almost as important as the bowline, this knot is great for sailing novices who really want to help out on the boat. Good for securing fenders to the railings and an easy way to help out while staying out of the way of the skipper. They can slip or bind though, so take care and double check! Or secure it with two half hitches to be sure. The great thing about this knot is the ease of adjusting the position of the fender without having to unite the knot.
A binding knot, used to join two ends of a line. It’s a quick and easy knot for temporarily joining two ropes together. It got its name from the old days of tall ship sailing, when it was used to “reef” the sail. This knot is sometimes known as a square knot on land. Right over left for the first knot, left over right for the second knot.
One Turn and Two Half Hitches
This one is an easy knot, used to tie and adjust. It’s simple, but highly effective. It’s usually used to secure the end of a rope to a stable object. The name refers to the way the knot is tied, a round turn wraps the rope around the object twice and the two half hitches secure it. This knot is more likely to bind than the Clove Hitch, but not as easy to adjust without untying. It’s easy to untie, if needed, and hardy ever jams.
The Cleat Hitch secures a rope to a cleat, usually a docking rope. Initially the rope must be led round the most distant horn of the cleat followed by a turn in the same direction round the other horn. Starting round the wrong horn increases the risk of a Cleat Hitch jamming.
Practice makes perfect. In no time you’ll be ready for that sailing charter holiday and tying knots like old sea dog!