Uses: The Figure Eight knot provides a quick and convenient stopper knot to prevent a line sliding out of sight, e.g., up inside the mast. Its virtue is that, even after it has been jammed tightly against a block, it doesn’t bind; it can be undone easily. This virtue is also, occasionally, a vice. The figure of eight can fall undone and then has to be retied.

How to: In the bitter end, form a loop by twisting a bight of the rope. Then pass the bitter end round the standing end, i.e., take the longest journey not the shortest, and through the loop to make the figure of eight.

Uses: The Sheet Bend is recommended for joining two ropes of unequal size. The larger rope must be used for the simple bight as shown. It works equally well if the ropes are of the same size.

How to: Form a loop in the thicker rope and hold it in one hand. Pass the thinner piece of rope through the loop and then round the loop. Take care to go round the short end first then round the long end. Finally, tuck the smaller rope back under itself to finish the Sheet Bend.

Uses: The Cleat Hitch, or Cleat Knot, secures a rope to a cleat. It is deceptively simple and an unwary skipper who invites visitors to tie the dock line to a cleat may be astonished and dismayed by the unsatisfactory results.

How to: Pass the rope round the distant horn of the cleat and continue on round the other horn. Then, cross over the middle and pass the rope round alternate horns to form figure eights. Finally create a half hitch and pull the end so that it is snug beside the crossover.

Uses: The Carrick Bend joins two ropes together. It used to be widely used to join large hawsers. To preserve the attractive shape of the knot, the bitter end of each hawser was often fastened with a seizing back to its own standing end. This seizing, however, is not required for safety.

How to: Form a loop in one end (blue) with the bitter end under the standing end. Pass the other end (green) under the blue bitter end. Tuck the green standing end under the blue loop. Thread the green bitter end under itself and pull the standing ends to obtain the appearance under load.

Uses: The Bowline makes a reasonably secure loop in the end of a piece of rope. It has many uses, e.g., to fasten a mooring line to a ring or a post. Under load, it does not slip or bind. With no load it can be untied easily. Two bowlines can be linked together to join two ropes. Its principal shortcoming is that it cannot be tied, or untied, when there is a load on the standing end. It should therefore be avoided when, for example, a mooring line may have to be released under load.

How to: Form a loop a short distance from the end – allow for the size of the loop and the knot itself. Pass the end of the rope through the loop as though making a simple knot (a half-hitch). Pull the end through, then round the standing end, and then back through the loop to finish the Bowline.

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