‘If you don’t know knots, do lots..’ is a well known saying on the water, but in reality, doing lots will make you no friends on the water!
The first time you are perched on the foredeck in a gale trying to untie the incredibly intricate and stubborn lump of tightly-bound cord stopping you from doing your job and enabling you to return the the relative comfort and safety of the cockpit, you’ll be cursing that particular saying, and the crew responsible for your predicament.
So, what knots do you need to know and why?
During the RYA Competent Crew course you will learn a handful of knots. They are; the bowline, the figure eight, the sheet bend and double sheet bend, the reef knot, the clove hitch, the round turn and two half hitches and the rolling hitch. Of course, there are many more and certainly we’d suggest you consider also learning the admiralty knot (a useful and robust stopper knot), cow hitch and the trucker’s hitch.
Why do sailors use certain knots? For no other reason than they serve a particular purpose. Want a strong, non-slip loop in the end of a line that can be heavily loaded for days and yet will still undo when you want it to? The bowline is what you want. Need a secure way to connect two lines of similar size? The sheet bend will do the job.
Next time you are on the foredeck in a gale, you'd better hope your crew mates can tie knots or you might just get into a bit of trouble up there…. Lots!