Ropes and Knots

01 September, 2019

Ropes are one of man’s oldest inventions and today they come in an array of materials and methods of construction.  Natural fibre ropes made of sisal, manila, hemp, coir and cotton have largely given way to man-made fibre for use on the waterways.  Sisal, manila and coir are more often found made up as fenders as they are harder wearing. Cotton is nowadays used for decorative work.

Ropes & knots

Round turn & two half hitches

The most common man-made fibres used for lines are nylon, polyester and polypropylene. Nylon is strong and stretchy, whilst polyester is extremely durable and has little stretch. Polypropylene rope comes in a variety of versions – being slightly weaker and not as durable.  Polypropylene ropes float where others sink.

Knots and Ropes

Clove hitch

Treated with care, most rope will last a long time.

Put simply, ropes are used to connect two or more items or locations – such as between a boat and a bollard at a lock or when mooring up for the night.

The connection can be for a few minutes or much longer. The longer the time required to be tied up, generally the “stronger” the knot or hitch required.

A simple Round Turn with Two Half Hitches is a good way to hold the boat to a rail or post and is easily untied. The code is “Always tie to the boat” not the bollard. See the diagram. The Fisherman’s bend or Anchor hitch is similar



Another useful method is the simple clove hitch – again, see the diagram.

Note the use of “hitch” as opposed to “knot”. The difference is simple – a hitch can be untied simply, whereas a knot is sometimes permanent.

The bowline is a commonly used method of creating a loop without the use of a knot. It is strong in operation, yet easily untied when finished with.


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