Learning how to tie knots and handle rope properly are essential skills to safe boating. Generally speaking, a good knot not only holds whatever it is designed to, but is also easy to untie. While tying additional knots will often secure the line, tying knots that can't be undone easily is not safe, as sometimes boats must be moved in a hurry.
You need learn only a few knots to drastically improve your abilities on the water. Sailors will disagree over which knots are "best" to learn, but the knots below are reasonable choices and learning them well will drastically improve your capabilities on the water. Many of them are also useful for other outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing, and camping, so you will likely be able to use them outside of Ephemerisle.
Everyone should know these
- Rope terminology - What is a bight? What is the difference between a bend and a hitch? There is a vocabulary to knots and ropework--learning it will help you understand tutorials, and communicate precisely when training others.
- Bowline - Versatile knot which forms a loop which holds perfectly, yet unties easily even after being under load. If you learn only one knot, learn this one!
- Cleat Hitch - Used for attaching anchor rodes or dock lines to a cleat.
- Bowline on a Bight - Another way of tying a bowline when you don't have access to the end of the line.
- Double Overhand Stopper Knot - Stopper knot used to prevent the end of a line from slipping through a block. It is also an element of the Double Fisherman's Knot, which is commonly used to tie two ropes together (see below).
- Slipped Buntline Hitch - A good temporary knot which will hold, but comes undone with one pull. Useful for temporarily tying up a dinghy or a kayak.
- Clove Hitch - A temporary knot used to tie and adjust fenders.
- Butterfly Coil - An improperly coiled rope will knot and tangle, making it difficult or impossible to deploy when needed. The butterfly coil is one method of of coiling rope so that it can be stored and deployed without twists/knots. If you have a very long rope, or limited arm strength, you can butterfly coil the rope over your neck, instead of your arm.
Other important knots
- Trucker's Hitch - To tightly ratchet down a line around cargo (such as a backpack, kayak, etc.)
- Double Fisherman's Knot - A good way of attaching two lines together
- Icicle Hitch- A gripping hitch. Can be used to relieve or distribute pressure on an anchor line, or to tie off a line securely to a post, or railing. Practical Sailor tests found it to be better than other gripping hitches, such as the rolling hitch.
- Buntline hitch - Used for securing lines to halyards and shackles.
- Anchor hitch - Used for attaching anchor rodes to anchor shackles.