5 Common Boat Knots and How to Tie Them

Whether you are boating in the back bays, off the shore in the ocean, or in the beautiful lakes, New Jersey offers many great spots for spending the day on the boat. Because of our geography, you can partake in many different boating activities: deep sea fishing, swimming, water sports, back bay fishing, and exploring the beautiful scenery. There is nothing like spending a hot day on the boat, with the cool water below you: pure relaxation and excitement.

But in order to fully enjoy your adventures, every boater should know how to tie common boat knots when they get back to the dock. You don’t have to be a professional skipper with decades of experience behind you, but it is important to have a few knots in your repertoire that you can use when tie-ing off to the dock. There are hundreds of boat knots out there, but these five below are the most common that you will use as a boating hobbyist. Each knot has an image tutorial of how to tie them, courtesy of our friends at 101knots.com!

Cleat Hitch – If you are at a static dock, floating dock, or boat lift, the cleat hitch is the most commonly seen knot. This knot is used mainly for docks where the boat could be jarred loose if other knots were to be used. The cleat hitch is easy to tie and untie but has the strength to securely hold your boat to the dock. Identified by its figure 8 shape, this shape helps hold your boat steady as it is tied up.



Figure Eight Knot – One of the strongest knots, the Figure Eight will ensure that your boat remains still when needed. This knot provides a firm, non-slip loop at the end which is so strong that its use goes beyond boating: rock climbers often use this knot to hold their climbing gear in place to ensure it doesn’t fall as they climb.



Bowline – A very versatile knot, the bowline creates a loop at the end of the rope that allows it to easily tie off to almost anything sturdy. Easy to tie and untie when needed, it is also reliable, strong, and stable. You can toss this line over many items to keep the boat in place when it is not occupied, making it a must-have in your knot toolbox.



Clove Hitch – For temporary mooring to a dock post, the clove hitch is extremely useful. Like the others, it is easy to tie and untie, but the advantage of the clove hitch knot is that it continuously keeps the pressure on whatever it is tied to, which keeps the knot from slipping and potentially causing the boat to drift away. This knot is extremely helpful if you are tying off to an object that rotates.



Anchor Bend – This knot is used to fasten the anchor to the boat, and can also join a rope to a ring or similar termination. This type of knot is 10% stronger than the bowline, is easy to tie, and it doesn’t significantly reduce the line strength.




Different situations can lead to the need for an array of knots. It is important as a boat owner to know the different knots and what their specific uses are, their strengths, and their weaknesses. The five knots above are the most common knots that you will come across as a boater and it is important to learn at least these knots. While there are hundreds of knots that you can learn about, these five will make you a very competent boat owner.