Sailing Knots vs. Non-Sailing Knots!

Ever wonder why certain knots are part of the curriculum and certain knots are left out? Perhaps you know some rescue knots or construction knots that sailors don’t use? Maybe you are good at tying things up and just make up your own knots!

It’s actually important to stick to the knots that we teach and use them in the ways that they are intended. We had a great example of this last week when a member found a knot he couldn’t untie in one of our new dock lines. Since he couldn’t get the knot out (a loop in the end of the line), he used it to dock the boat at Pier 1-1/2, where there is generally a surge. When he returned tot he boat, he found the line broken at the knot and the stern no longer attached to the dock. Luckily, he had used two spring lines as well as the two breast lines to tie up, and no other damage resulted.

Here’s a photo of the line that broke:

And the method used to make this loop was an overhand knot like so:

What’s the problem with this knot and the resulting loop? There are two main problems here.

One – Once tension has been put in this knot, it is almost impossible to untie. This makes the line unusable for any other purpose that doesn’t require a loop in the end.

And Two – and this is the most important – tension on this knot causes it to constrict onto the line and weaken it. This is what caused the line to break when tied to a dock with movement.

A simple bowline makes a great loop, doesn’t weaken the line, and is easy to untie even after it has had a lot of force applied to it.

Know your knots, and use the knots that are taught in sailing classes for sailing purposes!

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1 Response to Sailing Knots vs. Non-Sailing Knots!

  1. Herman Haluza says:

    This is a very informative article but I question why even use this line for docking? My take is that if one cannot untie the knot, the line should not be used at all until it is free of all tangles. This also reminds me that knot tying is like learning a new language: if you do not use it the skills disappear. This article reminds me that at least each week I should practice some knot and continue to practice it so it is in body memory.

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