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Boating Index

Boating Icon Boating Index Boating Usage

Alpine Butterfly Bend Alpine Butterfly Loop Anchor Hitch Ashley Stopper Knot Bowline Bowline on a Bight Bowline, Running Buntline Hitch Carrick Bend Chain Splice Cleat Hitch (Deck) Cleat Hitch (Halyard) Clove Hitch (End) Constrictor (Twisting) Double O'hand Stopper EStar Stopper Knot Eye Splice Figure 8 Icicle Hitch (Loop) Halyard Hitch Heaving Line Knot Lighterman's Hitch Midshipman's Hitch Pile Hitch Rat-Tail Stopper Rolling Hitch Round Turn & Hitches Soft Shackle Soft Shackle Edwards Trucker's Hitch Stevedore Stopper Zeppelin Bend

Knots by Name Terminology Safety Rope Properties About Contact Knot Store

Instructions: Move the mouse over each knot. Look at the description to find out what it can be used for. Click on the knot you wish to see. On the new page wait until the selected knot starts to tie itself.

Pictures of Boating Knots Index
Boating Knots Index

Boating Knots Index

Index of Animated Boating Knots

This page provides an Index of Animated Boating Knots. Above, the photo of each knot is a link to its Interactive Step by Step Animation. The picture on the right shows all of these knots for a quick reference.

Welcome to Boating Knots

These animated knots are primarily for boaters, but many are useful for anyone who uses rope and values safety.


The selection of knots is based on many years of sailing combined with feedback and advice from several helpful captains. The knots are arranged in alphabetical order.

Boating Knot Characteristics

Rope used in boating is durable and expensive and is often handling heavy loads, e.g., when berthing, mooring, towing another vessel, preparing for a storm, or managing sails. The emphasis, therefore, is on safety, reliability, and convenience. In contrast to the fishing knots, value is also placed on being able to use the rope repeatedly and untie each knot without difficulty.

Standing End, Tail, and Bitter End

In many knots there is Standing End - which takes the strain, and a Tail - the loose end in your hand.

Pictures of Bitts and Bitter End
Bitts and Bitter End

Bitts and Bitter End

On large ships a shore line is initially tightened with a winch. The tail is then properly called a Bitter End as it is transferred to the Bitts. To do this, a second rope is tied to the shore line with a Rat-Tailed Stopper or a Rolling Hitch to take the strain temporarily.

Mooring Lines and Names

Mooring lines on large ships are nearly always made of a high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) such as Vectran® or Dyneema®. These ropes float and their minimal elasticity reduces risk of injury due to "snap-back" in the event of a breakage. Each line serves a specific purpose. On large vessels two lines often run in parallel ("doubled up") for safety. The following diagram shows a typical arrangement:

Pictures of Large Ship Mooring Lines
Large Ship Mooring Lines

Large Ship Mooring Lines
  1. Bow Line
  2. Forward Bow Spring
  3. Forward Breast Line
  4. After Bow Spring
  5. Forward Quarter Spring
  6. Quarter Breast Line
  7. After Quarter Spring
  8. Stern Line

On yachts mooring lines are more likely to be made of nylon, or polyester (Dacron® or Terylene®). By contrast with mooring a large vessel, distances are usually small and movements due to waves and tide are proportionately greater. Moreover, because far fewer lines are used, it is critical to understand their purpose:

  1. The Breast Lines prevent rotation and should run roughly at 90o to the dock. To gain length, they should be led from the farthest part of the boat: the bow itself (or the outer hull of a catamaran) and from the far quarter of the stern.
  2. The Spring Lines prevent fore and aft movement and should run nearly parallel to the dock and may cross each other to obtain an optimal lie.
  3. Direction: The Bow Spring may be led forwards and the Stern Spring aft, but MUST lead in opposite directions.
Pictures of Yacht Mooring Lines
Yacht Mooring Lines

Yacht Mooring Lines
  1. Bow Breast Line
  2. Bow Spring Line
  3. Stern Spring Line
  4. Stern Breast Line

Doubling-Up and Sharing a Bollard

When two lines run to the same Bollard, especially when they are from different ships, the second line should be threaded up through the eye-splice of the first. This is called Dipping the Loop and allows either line to be released with out tangling.

Make a selection from the images above or go to the Options Page.

Disclaimer: Any activity that involves ropes is potentially hazardous. Lives may be at risk - possibly your own. Considerable attention and effort have been made to ensure that these descriptions are accurate. However, many critical factors cannot be controlled, including: the choice of materials; the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this material.

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