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There are a few essential boating knots that every boater should know how to tie before heading out on the water. While it may seem as if there are dozens of different knots and variations of boating knots, don’t let the amount of information out there overwhelm you. Just start with the basics.

Once you learn these five common knots for boating, you will be better prepared on your boating adventures and when coming into the docks.

1. Cleat Hitch. This knot is used for securing your boat to the cleats on a dock. When learning how to tie a cleat hitch, do a full turn with the rope around the bottom of the cleat. Then create a figure eight on top. To lock the knot, tuck the loose end of the rope underneath the top cross of the figure eight.

2. Bowline Knot. When you tie a Bowline Knot makes a temporary loop that won’t slip. This is an essential knot to know so that you can secure a rope around your waist, around someone requiring rescue, around a post, or in the free end of a rope. First, create a half twist of the rope to make a small loop. Second, take the end of the rope and pass it up the loop, back around the longer length of rope, and back down the loop.

3. Clove Hitch. A Clove Hitch is one of the most common boating knots used when attaching a line to a post, pylon, or fender. First, lay the rope over the top of the object. Second, pass the rope underneath and then to the left of the rope on top, go back over the rope on top and underneath to the right of the rope, going over it this time. You should see a figure eight shape. From there, pass the end of the rope under the cross of the eight to finish the knot.

4. Square Knot. Tie a square knot to connect two lines of the same diameter. First, situate the lines so that the working ends are next to each other with each line coming from the opposite direction. Second, tie the two lines together with an overhand knot. At this point, the end of the line on the right should be extending from on top of the other line, and the end of the line on the right should be extending from underneath the other line. Third, tie a second overhand knot, keeping the same line on top and the same line underneath. Tighten the square knot by pulling both ends.

5. Anchor Bend. The Anchor Bend is commonly used to tie rope to an anchor shackle. It is a good idea to reinforce the free end of the line with a backup knot to ensure you do not lose your anchor. First, make a complete turn around the eye or loop of the item. Second, the short end (or bitter end) and bring it around behind the standing end, ultimately sending the short end back through the original loop. Pull on the short end until tightened.

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