Among Seamen the term knot must give way to its more specific meanings: bend and hitch. In addition, Seamen must know which knot, bend, or hitch will serve best in a particular circumstance.
First and foremost, a good knot must hold fast without slipping. Next, if it is a knot in general use and not an ornament, it should be easy to tie. The best knot is one that possesses all these advantages and is easy to untie as well. In making knots and splices, you must know the names for the parts of a line and the basic turns employed.

Basic Parts and Loops
Running End (Bitter End) - The running end (bitter end) or the free end of a line. It is the end of the line that is worked with.
Standing Part - The standing part is the long unused or belayed end of a line. It is the remaining part of the line, including the end that is not worked.
Overhand Loop - The overhand loop is a loop made in a line by crossing the bitter end over the standing part.
Underhand Loop - The underhand loop is a loop made in the line by crossing the bitter end under the standing part.

Pasted Graphic

Bight and Turns
Bight - A bight is a half loop formed by turning the line back on itself.
Turn - A turn is a single wind or bight of a rope, laid around a belaying pin, post, bollard, or the like.
Round Turn - A round turn is a complete turn or encircling of a line about an object, as opposed to a single turn.

Pasted Graphic 5

Overhand Knot
The overhand knot can be used as a temporary stopper to prevent a rope from unraveling or passing through a ring, eye, or pulley. Bitter end over and under the bight is all there is to it!

Pasted Graphic 8

Figure Eight Knot
A figure eight knot is an overhand knot with an extra twist. It will prevent the end of a line from feeding through a block or fairlead when loads are involved. It is a better stopper knot than the overhand, and is also easier to untie and does not jam as hard as the overhand knot.

Pasted Graphic 28

Basic Square Knot
(Square Knot) Called a square knot by Boy Scouts, the reef knot is one of the most commonly used knots. Reef knots are primarily used to join two lines of equal size and similar material. Caution should be used if the line is going to be under heavy strain since the reef knot can jam badly and become difficult to untie afterwards. Reef knots are best used to finish securing laces (canvas cover, awning, sail to a gaff, etc.), temporary whippings, and other small stuff. Here is the proper procedure for tying a square knot: Take the end in your right hand, say to yourself, “over-under,” and pass it over and under the part in your left hand, as shown. With your right hand take the end that was in your left, say to yourself this time, “under-over,” and pass it under and over the part in your left hand.


Single and Double Becket (Sheet) Bend
Lines can be lengthened by bending one to another using a becket bend. It is the best knot for connecting a line to an eye splice in another line. It can be readily taken apart even after being under a load. Single becket bends are used to join line of the same size or nearly the same size. It is intended to be temporary. The double becket bend works for joining lines of unequal size. It is tied in the same manner as the single becket bend except you pass the line around and under its standing part twice.


Carrick Bend
This knot is stronger than the reef or sheet bend, but is just as easy to loosen, even after a sustained, hard pull. The carrick bend is an easy knot formed by two overhand loops crossing each other. It provides a very secure means of fastening two hawsers together, and has the advantage that when drawn taut, it assumes a form that can be passed around a barrel or winch. The ends should be seized down on their standing parts for security.
Pasted Graphic

The bowline is the standby for putting a loop in the end of a line. It neither slips nor jams, yet unties easily. A bowline is the best knot to use for bending a heaving line or messenger to the eye of a hawser because it is quick to tie and easy to get off. A bowline on a bight gives two loops instead of one,
neither of which slips. It is used to hoist a person, chair-seat fashion, out of a lifeboat or hold.

Pasted Graphic 6

Clove Hitch
A clove hitch is preferred for securing a heaving line to a towline. It is the best all-around knot for securing a line to a ring or spar. Correctly tied, a clove hitch will not jam or loosen. However, if it is not tied tight enough, it may work itself out. Reinforcing it with a half hitch will prevent this from happening. Also known as a "jam" knot, because the more stress it takes, the tighter it becomes ... yet it can be slipped the when the stress is removed.

Pasted Graphic 4

Timber Hitch
Timber hitches are used to secure a line to logs, spars, planks or other rough-surfaced
material, but should not be used on pipes or other metal objects.

Pasted Graphic 21Pasted Graphic 23

Taught Line Hitch
The Taught-Line Hitch can be tied on a line that is taught. When used for tying a tent guy-line, you can tighten or loosen the line by pushing the hitch up or down on the standing part.
Pasted Graphic 15

The sheepshank hitch is used for temporarily shortening a piece of line. It consists of two
bights of line, side-by-side, with a half hitch at either end.

Pasted Graphic 27

There are hundreds of knots to be made and you may discover your own top ten most useful knots. The point is that there are many situations in which knowledge of even the most basic of knots can make a big difference...