Learn the Ropes

In the age of sail it was very important for all sailors to know their knots in order to operate any size vessel. The modern day phrase 'learning the ropes', meaning to learn new skills,  comes from this period of maritime history. 

Here are 5 knots sailors from the age of sail would have used....

1. Bowline

Referred to as "the king of knots", the Bowline has multiple purposes aboard ship. A bowline creates a fixed loop on the end of a rope and is used for hitching, mooring and lifting. Because it tightens when stressed, the knot gets tighter when pulled. 

The bowline is tied by forming a loop, bringing the free end of the rope to pass through the eye, wrapping the rope around the standing line and back down through the loop before tightening. 

2. Reef Knot or Squared Knot

Knowing how to tie a reef knot is essential for joining two ropes together. We use the reef knot when tying our shoelaces. 

It is formed by crossing the ends of each rope, passing one end through the loop we have created with the other rope and pulling each end to tighten. The reef knot is frequently used for furling sails.

3. Clove Hitch

Another essential knot for any sailor to know how, the clove hitch is often used for tying something up temporarily, often attaching a rope to a pole or stanchion.

4. Round Turn & Two Half-Hitches

The round turn and two half-hitches is used for holding mooring lines by fastening a rope to a fixed object such as a post, ring or tree. 

The round turn and two-half hitches is created by wrapping the end of a rope around the support and taking it around the standing end of the rope. Another turn is made before taking the end of the rope out of the loop. 

5. Figure-8 Knot

The figure-8 knot is a very secure knot which is used to prevent the rope running out. It is an essential "stopper" knot. The figure-8 knot is tied by making a loop with one end of the rope, passing the other end through the loop and pulling both sides to adjust the knot.

Below is our video, showing each of these knots...

Why not have a go at tying some knot?

Why not send us a photo or video of you having a go?