How to Make Sailor Knots

How to Make Sailor Knots
Sailor's knots come in handy for all types of rigging--be it on a boat or on the mountainside. Sailors found ways to tie knots that could be (relatively) easily undone, even when subjected to great torque. Thus a common feature of a sailor's knot is the ability to "break" the knot. These steps show how to tie two of the most useful sailor's knots: the bowline and the figure of eight.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Bowline

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rope
  • Rope
Step 1
Hold the rope in one hand. Have at least a foot of rope until the rope's end.
Step 2
Twist a small loop in the rope. Keep about 1 foot of rope until the rope's end. The rope should now have a single coil in, with the part closer to the rope's end on the top, the other part of the rope underneath. In other words, if you were to follow your finger along the rope, it would coil round upward through the loop you've made, before tracing along to the rope's end.
Step 3
Take the rope's end and bring it up through the loop from underneath. Bring it through about half a foot.
Step 4
Lace the rope's end around the part of the rope behind the loop.
Step 5
Rethread the rope's end back into the loop and pull tight. If you have followed these instructions correctly, you will have a bowline. To break this knot after use, pull back on the lacing around the rope, behind the loop you made.

Figure of Eight

Step 1
Take a rope in one hand. Double the end back and hold it against the main rope.
Step 2
Twist the loop you've made twice.
Step 3
Take the loose end, and from underneath thread it through the loop.
Step 4
Pull tight. You have made a figure of eight--a knot useful for stopping ropes. In sailing, the figure of eight is tied to the ends of the sheets (the ropes that attach to the bottom of the sails to harness the wind). Because the knot can be broken (you pull back on the looped part), even if made very tight by strong winds pulling against a cleat, the rope can be unfastened if necessary.

Tips & Warnings

 
Make sure the knot resembles the figure eight--8. If it doesn't, you probably didn't effect two complete twists before threading. A variation of this knot, called a double figure of eight, is used in climbing.
 
Make sure the knot resembles the figure eight--8. If it doesn't, you probably didn't effect two complete twists before threading.
 
A variation of this knot, called a double figure of eight, is used in climbing.

Article Written By Benjamin Williams

Ben Williams is an award-winning reporter and freelance writer based out of Colorado. He has written for conglomerates of newspapers and magazines, supplying news, features, editorial and opinion. While running an Energy Services and Consulting firm, he now writes for multiple websites including the news site, Examiner.com.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.