There are a lot of knots you can learn. And the vast majority of them are very useful, each having it’s own time and place (situation) for it to be used. The following is a list of useful knots for dinghy sailing as required for the Phase II class of yacht that is used by Evan’s Bay Yacht and Motor Boat Club for it’s Learn to Sail program. Hence some useful / essential knots of other classes have been missed.
The Most Important
If I had to name just 2 knots at the most important it would have to be the Figure of Eight and Bowline.
Animated Knots by Grog: Figure 8
Usage Locations: Mainsheet tail, Cunningham (downhaul) tail, Jib Cunningham, Barberhaul/Tweaker tail, Kick (Vang) tail, Traveler/Bridal tail.
The Bowline is used for attaching a rope to an object, often used at the beginning of a pulley system. It’s nice feature is that it holds under load but is very easy to under when there isn’t any load on it.
Animated Knots by Grog: Bowline
Usage Locations: Jib sheet, Kick (Vang), Cunningham (Downhaul), Jib Cunningham, Mainsheet, Traveler/Bridal,
The Very useful
Obviously those 2 knots are not going to cover all situations. The following I class as “Very Useful”. It’s a good thing to know how to tie them and where to use them.
The Half Hitch classically used to tie off the end of a rope to keep it tight.
Animated Knots by Grog: Half Hitch
Usage Locations: Forestay
This knot is magic for tying two ropes together that aren’t nesscesarily going to be under load. It’ll stay done up when it’s not under load and is easy to break apart later.
The Reef Knot is is used for tying two ropes together that are usually under load.
Usage Locations: Tying the jib sheets together
Animated Knots by Grog: Halyard Cleat Hitch
Usage Locations: Securing the Jib and Main Halyards
The gasket coil is the classic way we use to coil up the jib and main halyards to keep them tidy, just incase when we are out there that we need to low the sails. It also makes derigging the boat less painful if the halyards don’t look like spagehti.
Animated Knots by Grog: Gasket coil
Usage Locations: Keeping the Jib and Main Halyards
Other useful knots for boating
These knots are worth know too.
Like the Figure 8 the Double Overhand is excellent as a stopper knot, however it’s not so easy to untie. Keep it for ropes and control lines that you don’t have to untie often (if at all). Don’t use this knot on your mainsheet, in an emergency you may need to use your main sheet as a tow line, so it’s best to use the Figure 8 knot instead.
Animated Knots by Grog: Double Overhand
Usage Locations: Kick (Vang), Barberhauler/Tweaker, Cunningham, Outhaul, and other control lines (note: do not use on your mainsheet)
Animated Knots by Grog: Boating Knots