Clove Hitch using Half Hitches Details
Alternatives: In addition to tying it Using Half Hitches, the Clove Hitch can also be tied by Threading the End and by Using Stacked Loops
Caution: The Clove Hitch (ABOK # 1245, p 224) was, originally, included here with the intention of condemning it. It does have two giant faults: it slips and, paradoxically, can also bind. It should be deeply distrusted when used by itself.
Uses: As shown in this animation, the Clove Hitch can make a quick hitch. Only two Half Hitches were used. To make the hitch secure, additional Half Hitches must be added in the same manner. The Clove Hitch has various applications. For example, in the theater it is used to adjust the height of stage curtains hanging from a bar; and in boating it can be used to initially position a fender hanging from a rail. Both are described in the section about the Clove Hitch tied by Threading the End.
Dangers: As stated above, the Clove Hitch's problems are slipping and binding:
Slipping: I watched a friend trying to dock his 53' Hatteras. Each time the bow mooring line was handed to the marina assistant, he used a clove hitch to attach the line to the dock's post. The offshore wind was blowing the stern away so my friend used his engines to swing the stern in. Each time he did so the strain was too much for the Clove Hitch, which slipped undone. This process was repeated seven times despite increasingly forceful requests that some other knot be employed to secure the line. Reviewing the events later it became apparent that the assistant was using the only knot he knew. It is not a knot to be used alone.
Binding: Finally, if you make the knot secure by stacking on additional Half Hitches, i.e., multiple clove hitches, then you are inviting a major strain to cause the earlier turns to bind tightly and become impossible to untie. So, if on a boat you feel an urge to use a clove hitch - resist! Choose something else unless you are merely hanging a fender
Alternatives: There are good alternatives available:
Temporary whipping for a frayed rope end
Paradox: When you tie this round turn and two Half Hitches, in the process you actually create a clove hitch round the standing end!