Sailing is a wonderful sport that allows us to take to the ocean and our lakes and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration that comes with controlling a vessel while out at sea. Still, when setting out on the water it’s always important to be prepared. With the wind at your back and the vast expanse of the ocean or our lakes ahead of you, it can be extremely liberating but by no means is it a suitable environment for the unprepared. Whether you’re sailing out for the first time or whether you’re a seasoned old salt, preparation makes all the difference between a satisfying sailing experience and a frustrating one.
With that in mind, it’s important to at least ensure that you know a handful of knots that will make for easier control of the sail and make for smoother and more pleasurable aquatic adventures. Here is a handful that will stand you in good stead when setting out on a Sunrise Sailing Club cruise…
One of the most useful and versatile knots in sailing and widely referred to as the “king of knots,” a bowline is the perfect place to start. If you only learn one knot before sailing out, make it this one. It’s a fairly simple loop knot designed to tighten the more load is placed upon it. If you can tie your shoelaces, you can manage a bowline. It’s most commonly used to fasten the halyard to the head of the sail although it’s also used by the coast guard to haul in wayward swimmers… although hopefully, you won’t need to do that.
A reef knot or square knot is also not a million miles away from a typical shoelace knot using the same over-under method. It’s commonly used to create a stopper knot to tie two different lines together. With a maritime history that goes back over 4,000 years, a reef knot is easy to tie and release, and it’s another knot every sailor should know.
The aptly named figure-eight knot is another stopper knot that’s highly versatile and widely used at sea as well as in a range of other outdoor sports like rock climbing. This is a temporary knot that can be tied in seconds and handle immense pressure actually growing stronger the more strain is placed upon it. Yet, despite its enormous strength, it’s still quick and easy to untie.
Midshipman’s Hitch Knot
This one’s a little more advanced, but it’s a strong and highly versatile adjustable knot that can come in handy in a crisis. Not that we expect you to experience any crisis… but as they say, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
The midshipman’s hitch knot can be fastened under tension, creating an adjustable loop at the end of your line. Those who find themselves falling overboard can stay secure while they’re hauled back on board by fastening the midshipman’s hitch knot around themselves.
While all of the above knots will help you out at sea, a cleat hitch will keep your vessel secure when docking. Simply wrap your line around the far side of the cleat, then up and across, back toward the nearside, and back to the far side. Repeat this until the line is pulled under itself. It’s a quick and easy knot that ensures your boat is still where you left it when you return.
You are now well on your way to becoming a seasoned sailor with this newfound knowledge of sailing knots. If you’re ready to test your skills out on the water, join the team at Sunrise Sailing Club for an adventure you won’t soon forget. Schedule a sailing lesson or reserve a boat with us today: (770) 271-7444