Tie This Super Sailing Knot in Seconds

Here’s another sailing tip from our friend Captain John at skippertips.com

What sailing knot could you use to tie off a main or headsail halyard, hoist yourself safe and sound aloft, tie off the foot of a reefed sail or hang fenders, hammocks, or bags so that they stay in place? Not many marine knots are as compact and trustworthy as this one. Read on to discover one of those little-known gems of the sailing world you will want to know.

Why Know This Ancient Sailing Knot?

I believe today’s sailor can often look to the past for reminders of those “works every time” tips and techniques. And sailing knots that you can rely on–even with your life in the balance–are the ones I like to learn.

The little-known buntline hitch was used by square rigger crews to tie off the foot of the sail when they furled. And it held through thick ‘n thin. Shake, rattle, or roll, and the buntline will hold like a stubborn barnacle to the bottom of your boat.

So why would the modern-day sailor want to know this super knot from the past? Check out these seven super uses of the buntline hitch to decide if this might be right for you…

- Secure the foot (bunt) of a reefed sail.

- Make a compact knot in the end of any line.

- Hold together without untying when shocked or flogged.

- Tie a halyard to a shackle for peace-of-mind hoisting.

- Form a safe knot to go aloft in a bosun’s chair.

- Hang fenders, bags, or other sailing gear.

- Add an easy-to-remember knot to your sailing skills.

Three Steps to Tie the Buntline Hitch

Grab a piece of practice line about two to three feet long. Practice along with the steps below and the illustration. In no time, you will master this super sailing knot and be ready to use it wherever in the world you choose to sail.

1. Pass the bitter end through the shackle, ring or fitting. Loop the bitter end over the standing part and then behind the standing part as shown (illustration 1). Note that you begin the Buntline Hitch just like a clove hitch. Go to step 2.

2. Thread the bitter end behind the standing part and tuck it beneath itself as shown (illustration 2). Note that this completes a virtual “inside clove hitch”. Go to step 3.

3. Pull on the bitter end to compact the knot. Slide it along the standing part and snug it up against the fitting (illustration 3). Take an extra second or two to remove all excess slack from the knot to make it safe, secure, and compact.

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