Learning the Ropes

Knots, bends, hitches and splices. Here is a guide to help you learn the ropes, literally

Bends and Hitches

A bend is a way to fasten two ropes together, while a hitch is a way to fasten a rope to an object.
Bowline
Bowline

This versatile knot does not slip under load, yet can be easily untied without a load. Done properly, this knot is so reliable that it can even be used as a lifeline around a person’s waist.

Clove Hitch
Clove Hitch

Consisting of two half hitches, the clove hitch securely fastens the rope to a spar or fenders (cushion-like impact absorbers hung over the vessel’s side). It can be made even more secure with more half hitches.

Timber Hitch and Half Hitch
Timber Hitch and Half Hitch

These hitches are used to tow, hoist or lower a spar, which is a wooden or metal pole used to support sails and rigging.

Bowline
Reef Knot

This easily undone knot is perfect for joining lines of the same thickness together.

Clove Hitch
Double Sheet Bend

This bend is used to secure two unequal-sized lines together.

Timber Hitch and Half Hitch
Figure-of-Eight

This knot is often used to tie the ship to a dock. This knot prevents a rope from unreeving (withdrawing).

Splicing

A splice is a way to form a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope.

Monkey Fist
Monkey Fist

This splice is tied at the end of the rope to serve as a weight at the end of a heaving line. The splice looks like a small simian fist — hence the name.

Figure-of-Eight
Back Splice

This splice is used to prevent the end of a rope from fraying.