Fit to Be Tied: 5 Essential Knots for Boaters

Boat Knots

Although there seems to be an endless selection of boating knots out there, most boaters can get by with just the basics.

Listed below are five basic boating knots you should know. Find out what their uses are—and, most importantly, how to tie them—then grab some rope or a shoestring and practice on your own!



If there’s one knot you absolutely need to learn it’s the bowline. There’s a reason it’s referred to as “the king of knots.” This multi-purpose boating knot is essential for boaters to know. It creates a fixed loop on the end of the rope that can be used for hitching, mooring, or lifting. Tying this knot is easy, after a bit of practice.

Square Knot

Square Knot

The square knot is a simple, quick knot used to join two ropes or lines together. If you’re looking for something to use in a pinch, try this knot. If you need something more secure, this isn’t your best bet.

Clove hitch

Clove hitch

Looking for temporary fastening? Look no further than the clove hitch! This boating knot is super useful because, with some experience, it can be tied using just one hand. Need something with a little more holding power? Add two half hitches after you’ve tied your clove hitch.

Sheet Bend

Sheet bend

The sheet bend is used to join two ropes of different sizes and/or materials together, and is a more secure alternative to the square knot.

Fisherman’s Bend

Fisherman's bend

The fisherman’s bend, a.k.a. an anchor hitch, is a strong knot used to attach a rope to an anchor or hook. The great thing about this knot? Although it’s strong, it can be untied easily.

Now that you know each knot’s use, watch the video below to learn how to tie them!

Looking to learn more boating basics? Start learning for free at Boat Ed®.