The Only Five Knots You Need to Know

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Doug has sailed over 30,000 miles with us on "Morgan's Cloud". He's a dab hand at tying knots.

Way, way, way back in time when I attended our yacht club’s junior sailing class, one of the tasks that the instructors set us each summer was to make a knot board. The kid that made the most complex esoteric knots, most beautifully arranged, on the most beautifully varnished board, won a prize.

I never won that prize. In fact, I never even came close. OK…really…the truth is I sucked big time at knot boards.

So maybe that’s why I decided early on that fixating on how many knots one can tie is at worst an affectation and at best a kind of quirky hobby that has very little to do with being a competent offshore sailor.

Be that as it may, here’s a secret for you: We only need to know how to tie five simple knots to be a competent sailors. Really, that’s it.

Before we get started, I should just say that I’m going to write about how we use each knot, not how to tie them. There are already excellent how-to sites for the latter and I will link each knot to its instructions.

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Richard Dykiel

For jib sheets my figure 8 knot happened to undo itself at the wrong moment ; since then I’m using a stopper knot shown on ‘Good Old Boat’ but I dont’ know its name; a version of it is shown here http://captnmike.com/2013/08/21/three-stopper-knots/ as “another stopper knot” except I do 3 turns around my hand instead of 2.

Erik

Great knot, use it all the time. If it gets loaded, it won’t be casual to untie.

Richard Dykiel

Indeed, but I usually untie them only once in the season, for the winter 🙂

Dick Stevenson

Good morning John,
Nice article well presented. A couple of comments:
I believe you may be misleading in your comments with respect to the round turn and 2 half hitches area. What you have pictured I call a cow hitch, or the way you have it a cow hitch ready to be slipped. (I actually have some initial misgivings about a cow hitch used in this manner, but I will have to think about it.) You are correct in saying that if you have the finishing half hitches going in the same direction you will end up with a clove hitch. A clove hitch leaves the bitter end on the outside of the knot (as in the “wrong” picture), relatively easy to wiggle and get the knot loose even after load. This is in the picture you have labeled “wrong”.
A buntline hitch is not pictured. It is essentially a clove hitch where the bitter end is no longer on the outside of the knot, but is on the inside, so that as the knot works tighter, the bitter end is crushed between the secured object (bollard) and the knot itself, making it so difficult to untie, as you correctly point out. To say that what you end up with is “in effect” a buntline hitch is, to my mind, quite misleading and inaccurate. A clove hitch after a round turn belay is functionally and practically extremely different than a belay using a buntline hitch. While both hitches, they are quite different knots.
My best, Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

John,
I enjoy your promoting the attributes of the rolling hitch and agree fully that it is an essential (and way underutilized) knot for sailors to have in their armamentarium. I would add 1 more benefit: the capacity to look good while responding to embarrassing moments, such as the winch wrap you mentioned. If another winch is not easy to come by or the lead is bad, a handy billy is an awful nice tool to have ready at hand and its use multiplies with the knowledge of how to tie and use rolling hitches.
I will suggest one variation of the rolling hitch that is a bit easier to tie than the tandem knots you suggest that you may wish to try and has worked well for me. I suspect they are both attempts to solve the same problem. You tie 2 rolling hitches in tandem. For my variation, I tie an extra turn both below and above the “hitch” in the middle of the knot. This makes for 3 turns below and 2 turns above as opposed to the conventional 2 below and 1 above). This gives more surface area for the knot to grip the chain/rope/etc. I believe this covers the concerns that lead you to tandem knots and is simpler and easier. In an case, this has worked well for us on Alchemy.
Unlike you I have (occasionally) had trouble untying a conventional rolling hitch and the above variation has always allowed easy un-tying.
Lastly, for all knots, and especially for rolling hitches, I would want to emphasize taking a few seconds to work them up and hand tighten them leaving enough of a bitter end for it further tightening when the load comes on. Loose knots are like an unsharpened knife, just plain dangerous.
My best, Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
As you may come to see (and regret), I have a quiet morning with extra energy as I have got my sailing juices flowing by starting mental preparations to return to Alchemy.
I am concerned that your strong admonition to only comment if you have knots that are “needed” by sailors, (and that only after thinking carefully) may inhibit comments that are interesting. After all, you have already commented that the rolling hitch may be the only knot needed to run a ship, while listing 4 others, thereby illustrating that “needed” is a slippery target. I support your wish to get people out on the water with necessary skills to keep boat and people safe, and to not get anyone bogged down with the many “shoulds” that lie out there lurking. That said, knots are merely tools and some problems that come up on a boat lend themselves to specialty tools. I for one would like to hear of some of these maybe less than “needed” knots/tools and would rely on the good sense of the readers to sort out what is necessary for their “tool box”. I suspect that with the restrictions of comments by members only will keep discussions from going too far afield.
I will illustrate with a knot that is “needed’ on Alchemy: but first the problems this knot solves.
1. Turning a halyard end for end after a few years use. The bitter end is un-splicable because of the rope’s age (or my skill level) so a knot is required and the knot has to have the attribute of being able to snug very close to the mainsail halyard shackle. A bowline will not do in this area as it stands to far from the shackle in many instances and I wish to know I get full hoist on the halyard, whether main or jib.
2. Splices on spinnaker halyards have to likelihood of jamming if they are drawn into the throat of the sheave. A “ball” can be used as can, in this instance, a bowline to preclude this happening, but the following knot needs no extra pieces like the ball and is more compact and elegant.
3. If your reef lines end by being tied around the boom, you want the clew to be drawn down as close to the boom as is workable. A bowline in this regard sits up farther above the boom. A (what I call) loggers hitch works well, but benefits from being stitched or it can work loose. The following knot works its way down right onto the boom allowing the clew to be brought very close to the boom.
5. This knot can replace most any splice on the boat that gets chafed or goes bad. Again, a bowline may also work, but this knot is more compact and elegant. It also “holds onto” the shackle etc. whereas the bowline leaves it loose on the loop.
The buntline hitch is the knot I am referring to. It is not an everyday knot by any measure, but when certain problems come up it is a good tool to have. It is a very secure slip knot basically. It can be thought of as a poor man’s (or un-skilled man’s) splice. As such think of it as relatively permanent, like a splice. That said, I have never had to cut one out, but I can attest to many minutes of working the knot with 2 pair of adjustable pliers to get it loosened. Also, when dealing with HM lines which might creep, I sew the cover to core a few of times and leave the bitter end a bit longer. This is unnecessary with conventional lines. As to lines loosing strength in knots, I have never worried as my HM lines end up being overkill in diameter/strength so that I can comfortably handle them.
My best, Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Ted Tripp

I agree with Dick about the buntline hitch. I use it all the time to make a secure, tidy loop in lieu of a bowline, and though it will jam, a fid has always served me to untie it. Furthermore, I have heard that it is stronger than a bowline.

Dick Stevenson

Richard,
You reported a figure eight happening to untie at the wrong moment. There are 2 most common reasons for tried and true knots failing: the most likely is that they are not worked up and tightened a bit to give them initial integrity. The second is that there is too short a bitter end so that when load occurs and the line thins down, the end gets drawn into the knot. This often occurs with stopper knots as they are done close to the end of the rope by definition.
I would not wish your experience to cast aspersions on a figure eight, a very good and useful knot, while the alternatives you mention are also excellent and, in fact, are slightly larger. I would suggest, while not knowing for sure at all, that your positive experience with your replacement knot, is in part because of increased attentiveness in knot tying after the failure rather than their being “better” knots (aside from the marginal size difference).
My best, Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

Richard Dykiel

The figure-8 knot that failed was at the end of a relatively thick genoa sheet. Maybe the bitter end was too short. My assessment at the time is that it unwound itself little by little while the sheet was being used, banging against the boat, etc… I also think that this knot is less efficient on thick rope, or I find it harder to tighten properly on thick rope. I never had issues with the new stopper I’m using, and from my standpoint that’s that. The only drawback of my new stopper might be that it’s bulkier than a figure-eight but at least I can use it to flog unruly crewmates 🙂

RDE

Time for a postscript: “The right way to attach a dock line to a mooring cleat.” One of my pet peeves is to find a cleat with the line on backwards and then compensated for by a whole birds nest of extra turns when I need to use it as well for a bow or stern line while docking parallel on a long finger pier.

So you can imagine the steam coming out of my ears a few years back when Steve Dashew wrote an article about the advantages of high modulus dock lines and illustrated it with an ass backwards bird’s nest—–. I guess we all have our blind spots!

Terje M

Great article,
Everyone can make an article how to make a knot. The hard part: Uses. Benefits and Cautions. That comes with experience.

Well done,
Terje

Bruce Savage

Hi John
Rock climbing is one of my hobbies and a sport where knots are obviously (and literally) vitally important. The figure eight follow-through knot is pretty much universally used for making loops, and attaching to harness. The reason this is advocated is that it is such an easy knot to tie and also easy to visually check and confirm correct. It’s always been interesting to me that sailors prefer the bowline, whereas rock-climbers and mountaineers use the figure eight follow through.

It is for sure a less neat and bulkier knot than the bowline but I would recommend it over the bowline for:-
Attaching a bosuns chair or anything else used to hoist a person aloft.
Tying a quick and secure loop at the end of a line, particularly if not around something yet. In this case you merely fold the rope back on itself making the loop and tie a big figure eight with the doubled rope. Quicker than the bowline and pretty much foolproof.
Bruce

Bruce Savage

Hi John
I would never use it for attaching jib sheets, or halyards, definitely the bowline for that. I think the knot is more of a quick dock line solution or anytime one is going aloft, tying a quick loop of rope around a person in an emergency for example.
A falling climber puts a lot of load on a rope, climbing gear is rated to over 20 KN of force, and the knot is always easy to undo once the load is off, so don’t think that is a concern.
Bruce

enno

Hi Bruce and John
Yesterday I had to untie one that I tied more than a year ago. It turned out to be absolutely impossible. I had to use a knife. So for me it’s bowline again next time. I think the reason might be that climbers usually untie themselves from their harness the same day. Also the load of a falling climber is high but short, while loads in sailing more often are continuous or cyclic.

Drew Frye

A. Climbers very seldom put more than 500 pounds on a rope in a fall, having taken many thousands myself. The rope stretch limits the force.

B. In a long whipper of a fall, that figure-8 can be a bloody bear to untie. In fact, it is specified in the UIAA fall test standard specifically because it absorbs fall energy by tightening up.

C. I have pull-tested many knots to failure. Figure-8s, overhands, and in fact most knots, can only be released with a knife once they pass ~ 25% BS. It isn’t so much the tension that gets them, as that the rope shrinks under load (% stretch ~ % shrinkage) allowing severe tightening. The stetchier the rope, the worse the problem. Only the bowline remains easy (possible) to untie.

Ben Pearre

I like the figure eight follow-through (which I know as the Flemish loop). Strong and secure, and for sure it can be hard to untie after load.

Don’t forget about the double bowline, which some climbers use to tie in. Much less likely to untie itself under load-unload cycles than a single bowline, and much easier to untie than a Flemish loop.

What about the Alpine butterfly? I haven’t really used it, but it has a solid reputation. It’s easy, can be tied as a loop or in the bight, can take load in either direction, still unties easily after loading, and it’s thought to be as strong as the Flemish loop. Not as easy to visually inspect for correctness (to my eye, at least), which, frankly, is probably something offshore sailors should talk more about.

Tom Clements

Having always been partial to the bowline, I was delighted when a number of years ago Yachting Monthly did a reasonably exhaustive test on how best to connect two lines while maintaining as much of the breaking strength as possible. Yes, a splice – long or short – is the best, but it turns out second best is to simply use two intertwined bowlines. As I remember this maintains nearly 80% of the the original strength. This is far greater than the square knot, sheet bend or other alternatives. Admittedly it won’t go through a block or chock, but it certainly is easy and secure.
Tom

Gregory Toews

Hi John and Tom,
Zeppelin Bend. Since this is an old thread, I may be repeating someone here. A zeppelin bend addresses the bowline to bowline flaw of having a single stress/chafe point, while spreading the load over several contact points, and being just as easy to untie after load.

Wilson Fitt

Thanks for this reminder of the basics that everyone should have, whether they are a sailor or not. I like knots, have been pretty good at them since my days as a boy sprout so many years ago, and use all of the ones on your list regularly. Probably 50% of my knots are of the round-turn-and-two-half-hitches variety although I don’t ever recall being very fussy about what direction the hitches go.

I would add to your list of necessary knots as follows:

– The reef (or square) knot, used for tying reef points (with one slippery end), tying your shoes (with two slippery ends), tying ribbon around presents, and endless other purposes. Make “right over left and left over right” completely automatic. Few things are more treacherous than a granny knot.

– The chain knot and the sheepshank, which provide endless amusement for small children aboard the boat or ashore. They love making long ropes short and then, with a tug or a shake, making them long again.

– The true lovers knot, consisting of two tightly nested overhand knots, used to remind your long suffering partner during a quiet evening following hours or days of cold wet misery.

Rob Gill

Hi John,
Can I recommend a close relative: “as many round turns as you need and two-half-hitches knot”? I know it’s a bit of a mouthful but I remember as a cadet the bosun taking five full round turns before adding the securing hitches to a tow-line. I asked him why so many turns and he asked me how many fingers I could see (holding up his five and three) – I never forgot that lesson!
Rob

Bill Attwood

Hi John.
In view of your comment that one of the aims of AAC is to help people new to cruising, here my contribution.
I was taught (about 60 years ago) the phrase when tying a stopper knot, eg in the end of a sheet:
“a knot and a tail”
Might not be obvious, although your example does show a small tail.
Yours aye
Bill

John Pedersen

Rather than ‘as many round turns as you need and two-half-hitches knot’ for tying a line that is or soon will be under load, I use the tugman’s hitch – quick , easy, never binds, easy to take off under load. I don’t have as many winches as I’d like, and I often use a tugman’s hitch to temporarily hold a sheet while I use a winch for something else. A winch that already has a sheet on it can be used quite easily to hold a second sheet – not sure how many people have such a requirement though!

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I won’t argue with your list. When I was regularly teaching new crew members, I taught them a very similar list and I think that either one would work just fine.

What do you use for spectra/dyneema? At this point in time, all of the dyneema that we have aboard I have either spliced or turned into a soft shackle. Occasionally, we make it off using a tugboat hitch but we have never had to put a knot in it beyond a star knot for the soft shackle. I know many people use it for lashings so it seems like there must be good knots.

Thanks.

Eric

Ted Tripp

AnimatedKnots.com claims the Estar Knot (a stopper knot) can be used to securely fasten Dyneema ropes. Tie a buntline hitch, then pass the free end around the tied object and back through itself, under both turns of the buntline hitch.

Eric Klem

Hi Ted and John,

Thanks for the responses. The Estar hitch looks interesting but it looks a bit difficult to undo. I think that I will stick to splicing and soft shackles with these lines for the time being although I will probably give John’s method of lashing a try at some point. Dyneema is probably the easiest stuff that I have ever spliced so it is really not a big deal although Jay Maloney gets excellent reviews and would be a good option for people who don’t want to do it themselves.

Eric

Bill Balme

Very good!

Maybe I’m missing it – or it can be accomplished with a couple of these, but I don’t recognize a knot that would allow you to tie down something and be able to synch it tight – like securing a dingy to the foredeck. ..

The knot I use is a variant of the one described by the makers of the Monitor Windvane – I think it’s a ‘Trucker’s hitch?’

How would you accomplish the task John?

Ted Tripp

I use the Single Linesman’s Loop whenever I need to grab onto a line, most helpful when splicing double-braid, but also good for making any kind of temporary attachment point, e.g. forming a three-point sling to hoist a dinghy, or even to form the loop in lieu of a trucker’s hitch. It can jam under very heavy loads, but usually bends free easily. Climbers call it an Alpine hitch, and they use it all the time as it is very easy to learn and tie.

ChrisW

One observation about stopper knots of any stripe: Leave a foot or more of line beyond the knot (standing end).

A stopper knot up tight against block under load leaves no option but to cut the line or to throw a hitch on it on the loaded side which may or may not bite and may or may not hold if the line is flailing.

With a foot or more of line beyond the knot, one can now tie on to the unloaded not failing tail with any number of knots/hitches and pull the stopped knot away from the block with better control and thus more safely.

Learned this when felling trees (40+ years ago).

Ben Tucker

Hi John, I agree, with your choices with some reservations about the cow hitched round turn+ 2 half hitches. I have never had an issue with the conventional knot jambing, but have seen it slip under extreme load.

Like you, I think it’s better to know how to tie a few good knots very well in all conditions rather than to know a lot of specialised ones poorly.

I think we are missing a bend from the list, and I consider a sheet bend and double sheet bend to be an essential knot. Much better than two back to back bowlines. The Reef knot is also pretty important, and simple to tie.

Your pictured bowline has the tail on the outside? I prefer to have the tail on the inside, much less likely to catch and capsize the knot.

Nowdays I often make up a spectra salvagee strop from light line, and electrical tape and use it as a prusik loop in preference to a rolling hitch. I like to have one looped on the cockpit dodger support tubes, ready to hand. It grips a highly loaded line much more securely than a rolling hitch, with no slippage, and comes off very quickly even after a very high load.

Ben Tucker

Hi John, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_bowline has a good description and pictures of what I was refering to with the tail being inside the knot. I don’t think it makes much difference to strength, but with the “outside” Version the tail seems more likely to catch.

Dick Stevenson

Ben, Why do you consider the sheet bends much better knots to tie 2 ropes together than back to back bowlines? My experience with sheet bends has been that they are vulnerable to shaking apart unless the load was steady (or sewed to secure). As a consequence of this belief, I do not use the knot much.
Thanks, Dick

Ben Tucker

Hi Dick, interesting that you’ve had them shake free. Never had an issue myself, though if it is going to get a tough life I always make it a double and draw the knot up well. I use them often for shore lines and dock lines, which admittedly don’t get much of a shaking.

The only two knots I’m wary of are the plain clove hitch and the bowline, having had a few shake out in the past, though to be fair to the bowline it’s only given problems in old stiff jib sheets before it gets loaded, when hoisting after a quick change. A pretty tough assignment, and usually the root cause is not really tightening the knot before raising the sail.

When I was about 6 or 7 I remember running a shore line from the boat to a tree. I ran out of line and needed to join the spare line to it in a hurry. Unfortunately my improvised version of a bend came undone, to my immense shame, so since then I have been a fan of the sheetbends. they can be tied and untied much quicker than two bowlines, it uses much less line, and is less prone to catching on stuff. Oh, and it’s a very elegant knot. simple and neat and satisfying to tie…

ChrisW

Have read several comments about jammed knots… had to use a knife…

We have found a solution of warm to hot water and 20-25% personal lubricant (water soluble) and a soaking with occasional massaging of the knot with a rubber mallet will free just about any knot in any fiber.

Marc Dacey

Nor does the conclusions of Customs officials when they find a big tub of “personal lubricant” in your sail repair box bear thinking about. Although I personally have a “travel-sized” jar of Vaseline in there, I never had a naughty thought about it until this thread.

ChrisW

Propriety may be maintained by using the Aloe Vera Gel which should be in you meds kit.

Marc Dacey

Suitable for rope burn and therefore legit.

ChrisW

Back in the early foil-luff, pre Sailkote days, I crewed for a doctor who used the goo (his term) to lube headsail luff ropes on his racing boat when they were new, as in each season. One night during an off watch I couldn’t sleep because of a knocking noise. I went topsides to find the source, and it was him pursuing the described solution, right above my berth.

BobP

Would like to hear about others experience, either good or bad, with the slip hitch (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDfx8Re2usA ) for tying fenders to lifelines or stanchions.

When cruising and visiting many harbours for the first time last year (as compared with returning to a home berth or mooring previously, mostly day sails) it quickly became the most crucial and often used rope tying task outside of the dock lines. We had previously used round turn and 2 half hitches for tying fenders on, but that was not ideal for using when entering many, sometimes small, harbours double handed on a 46 footer and not knowing exactly what we would face. Putting out three fenders on each side to start with and then sometimes needing to quickly adjust height or switch one or more from one side to the other was a challenge. Not to mention setting up bow, midships and stern docklines on each side to be ready for all the potential scenarios we could and did face, so time was a real issue in small harbours unless you tried to start setting everything up in rough seas before entering the harbour, not much fun and could be dangerous so setting up a system to do everything as quickly as possible and easy to adjust is very important to us. Apologize if this is topic drift, but this year we’ll also be facing stern to med mooring so will also be dealing with dropping anchor while reversing in. Oh, and did I mention we have a dinghy on davits! All this is, I think, relevant to the need for speed and easy adjustability in any knot used for tying fenders on. If some of this is more relevant to another post, please let me know which one. “Tips and Tricks for getting set up to enter harbour” might be a good topic for another post in its own right. Thanks!

Eric Klem

Hi Bob,

I have used this hitch a lot and never known the name, thanks. It brings up something which I don’t think has been discussed otherwise which is tying knots on a bight. Frankly, I tie most of my knots on a bight as you don’t have to pass a lot of line through and they are often easier to undo.

Eric

Jon

Great article and comments on knots. Allow me to introduce No. 6; the truckers hitch. Use it to tie down things on deck.
Norwegian description here ; http://www.seilas.no/wip4/detail.epl?id=2184451
,or many more on Google.

Jon

Watch the video as well:http://www.seilas.no/wip4/detail.epl?id=2184451 ifra you care for some music while practising the truckers hitch

Robert Andrew

Not exactly related to knots, but seemed like the best place to ask about DOCK LINES. For a 39 ft, 18,000 lb sloop,what inventory (e.g., quantity, lengths, diameter and material) of dock lines (actually any lines onboard not related to rigging or anchoring) makes sense for a cruising boat that doesn’t tie up often but needs to accommodate a variety of situations? I’ve accumulated a hodge podge of lines over the years and many need replacement so I’m seeking the advice of those with more experience than I.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Robert,
It certainly depends on your cruising area and the docking challenges these areas present. For example, the inventory below might not suffice for wharfs in high tidal range areas.
I can tell you what I use for the last decade in Europe and before that in the US, Caribbean and Central America. For our primary go-to dock lines for our significantly heavier 40 foot boat, we have two 45 foot 5/8 inch 3 strand nylon lines and two 35 foot 5/8 inch 3 strand nylon lines. We have two 60 foot 3 strand ½ inch nylon lines for warping and specialty situations as well as two 60 foot 5/8 inch polyester (Dacron) double braid, again for special situations.
For more thoughts on dock lines, their construction and use, please go to some recent writing of mine at http://stevedmarineconsulting.com/securing-your-boat-to-a-dock-with-a-homage-to-cleats/.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

jeff clark

You mentioned in the section about figure 8 “We never tie it in spinnaker or jib sheets because there are emergency situations where we might need to fly said sheet completely and, in this case, if the figure eight comes up hard against a block only a knife will save the situation.”

Wondered, what kind of stop knot would you use for spinnaker or jib?

Carlos

Good day John

I’ve just switched from using a chain hook on a bridle to using two lengths of 3-strand nylon line secured to our anchor chain with rolling hitchs as my snubbers. The problem I’m encountering is that while they hold beautifully while loaded, I’ve had to re-tie one of the two twice now because it has come undone. Am I doing something wrong (perhaps not tightening them enough?) or is that simply the nature of the rolling hitch? That is, do they tend to work their way free when unloaded for long periods?

Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can offer.

Regards,
Carlos & Maria
S/V Rocinante

Carlos

1. Currently tying a single on each – BTW, it’s not slipping, but rather coming completely undone.
2. The line is new & supple, so no issues there.
3. Unfortunately, I have no place to secure the snubber if I lead it over the bow roller – no, I’m not kidding! I only have the 2 bow cleats and if I run the snubber directly from the roller to either cleat, it chafes on top of the sides of the bow roller.
4. I believe it is tight, but will try leaving a longer tail; perhps that will help.

I’ll also try to adjust the two snubbers to see if I can’t get them to share the load equally (doubt it, but will give it a try) if not, then I quess I’ll switch to just one and a double rolling hitch as you’ve suggested.

Thanks again,
Carlos

Ben Pearre

Disclaimer: I was that kid who got the Ashley Book somewhere around age 11. But… I recently learned a couple of good ones:

  • Icicle hitch has been a revelation. I’ve been using it everywhere possible (partly just so I become faster at tying it). Like a rolling hitch, but holds immediately on dyneema, on slime-coated mooring lines, on tapered spars, on stainless steel stanchions… yeah, probably on icicles, but I haven’t seen one since I learned the knot. Perhaps most importantly, in some kinds of line the rolling hitch can be hard to untie, but the icicle hitch is easier. “Everyone knows a better rolling hitch”, but seriously, this one is worth a glance.
  • There’s actually a thing called the constrictor knot, and it is a hose clamp. Not in the top 5, but I’ve used it to repair the wiper fluid line in my aging car in the middle of a blizzard. Esoteric but fun. I mainly bring it up as a footnote on terminology.
  • I’d argue that it’s handy to have at least one bigger and/or more secure stopper knot up your sleeve (figure 8 can untie itself if it flogs too much, and sometimes, well, size matters). Depending on whether you need to untie it quickly, or ever, an extra loop in the figure 8, the Ashley stopper, or tie a Figure 8 in line doubled back on itself (giving a Flemish Loop, and then optionally pass the loop over the knot, but that takes time to dress and it is hard to untie after a load)… ok wait no now I’m getting carried away…
Ben Pearre

I just saw the note where you asked us not to do this. I’m sorry!