While taking apart the city there were a lot of very bad knots. Generally speaking a good knot not only holds whatever it is designed to, but is also easy to untie. Knots on top of knots on top of knots, shows a lack of confidence that the original knot will hold.

The two knots everyone at Ephemerisle should know:

  • Bowline - The best simple loop knot. Puts a non-slip loop in the end of a rope, can be used to tie off to a post or rail.
    • Advantages
      • Quick to tie
      • Easy to untie
      • Many useful variants
    • Disadvantages
      • Difficult to tie in a rope that’s under load
      • Should generally only go around one thing at a time - “ring loading,” where two things inside the loop pull in different directions, can cause it to slip.
      • It’s not safe to add a load to the trailing end
  • Cleat Hitch - Used for attaching anchors lines or dock lines to a cleat.
    • The basic hitch for tying to a cleat. On a poorly-shaped houseboat cleat, adding a stopper knot (figure-eight) to the end of the line, or adding a second tucked turn at the end, can make it more secure.

Other knots which are good to know:

  • Taut-line Hitch - makes an adjustable loop around a post or rail. Unlike a bowline, can be easily tied while there is a heavy load on the rope. May tighten down if loaded unevenly. Use variant 1855 from the linked page.
  • Butterfly Knot - Make a non-slip loop in the middle of a line that can be safely loaded from either or both directions. Can be tied without access to the rope end.
  • Butterfly Bend
    • A bend is a knot used to join two rope ends. If you know how to tie a butterfly knot, you can use the same technique to make one of the best bends. It’s strong, secure, easy, and easily untied.
  • Figure 8 - Stopper knot (keeps the free end from slipping through your other knot) - you can use this on the loose end when tying a cleat hitch in slippery rope on a crappy houseboat cleat. Leave a tail a few inches long.
  • Fisherman’s Knot - A good way of attaching two lines together, but very hard to untie after loading
  • True Reef Knot - A good temporary knot which will hold somewhat well, but comes undone with one pull. Use as a binding knot for tying up a bundle, but not as a bend. If you want a slipped bend, try a Slipped Sheet Bend
  • Trucker’s Hitch - provides mechanical advantage for tightening the line - There are a lot of different trucker’s hitches. The linked site shows a version of the trucker’s hitch that jams horribly under load. Use the same technique, but start with a butterfly knot so you can untie it afterward. Better yet, get me (Noah) to show you a knot called “The Dutchman.” The few illustrations I can find of it are either poor or wrong, so I might have to make my own video.
  • Clove Hitch - Quick, temporary hitch for a post or railing. Tends to work itself loose if left unattended, but ok if you just need a quick hitch to hold a line for a few seconds. It’s the first step in tying a double constrictor knot, which is an extremely secure hitch, but difficult to untie.