Buy Boats, Sell Boats, Review Boats

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Do It Yourself, How To, US | 3 comments

Three Best Knots for Tying Up a Boat

Knots are an important part of seamanship. Here are three that will make it easy to tie up your boat.

The term ‘knots’ covers several different types of line tying. There are hitches, where you tie a line to something else; there are bends, where you tie one line to another; and there are knots, where the line is tied to itself. The aim of them all is to secure your boat when you want, but allow you to untie them when it’s time to push off the dock again.


You don’t have to be an old salty seadog to master the essential powerboating knots.

You don’t have to be an old salty seadog to master the essentials. Here are three basics that are easy to learn and will serve you well. For more details and some great photos, read Alex Smith’s post on UK site, Essential Power Boating Knots.

1. Bowline
Make a loop in the line. Feed the end up through the loop, then around the lower part of the line and back through the loop. Pull the ends tight and test to make sure there is no give.

2. Clove Hitch
Go around the object once, make a second turn around in the same direction crossing the first, and then tuck the free end through the eye of the second turn.

3. Round Turn with 2 Half Hitches
Go around the object twice (more for a large load). Then tie a clove hitch around the line itself.

For more knot tying info, watch How to Tie a Line on a Cleat. And if you’re new to boating, you might want to watch How to Dock a Powerboat.




  1. Clove hitches were only useful when we had manila and hemp rope which was very rough. They won’t hold for 5 minutes in modern synthetic line. Although the ASA requires me to teach them to 101 students, I also tell them never to use them.

    The third knot i would teach would be a figure eight with a loop which is the only loop knot that never loosens till you wnat it to in poly line.

  2. Sandy, Thanks for the added info. I agree that clove hitches should be used with great care in modern line, and I tend to add a couple of half hitches to keep them from coming out when I tie a clovehitch around anything.

    The figure eight is definitely the best stopper knot, but not necessarily useful for tying a boat up, which was the premise of this post. We had to limit ourselves somehow! :)

  3. Cloves hitches by themselves should not be used to tie up a boat. If you need to use a clove hitch, throw in two half hitches to lock it off otherwise you will not find your boat when you come back.