Posted by: svwindward | 2015-06-09

Skills: Our friend the cleat hitch

“Let us not, dear friends, forget our dear friends the cuttlefish” – Captain Jack Sparrow
Seen the movie?  Great.  You know, then, that Jack sometimes gets things a bit wibbly-wobbly.  It may be related to the rum always being gone. What I am sure he was actually referring to was our friend the Cleat Hitch.
This mondo-useful knot secures your boat to the dock, your anchor rode to your boat, and even your boat to other boats.  At a raft up, for instance.  At the Summer Sailstice Raft-up (coming to a Watauga Lake near you on June 20) you’ll probably be tying to a boat on either side of you, providing a great opportunity to practice this useful hitch and showcase your skills.
There are many ways to tie this classic mark of a good seaman (or woman. Not playing favorites here, there are excellent sailors of both genders).  One of them is actually correct.
First, let’s get some terminology of the way
  1. The long, horizontal part of the cleat is referred to as the horn.  Once I’m tying the knot, I may refer to two horns, one on each end.
  2. The vertical part that is bolted to the deck is the base
  3. The long end of the line that goes to whatever you’re tying is called the standing part
  4. The short end you’re working with is the bitter, or working, end.
  5. The bit of line left over after you’ve tied the knot is often called the tail.

Borrowed from somewhere or other on the web

Tying the hitch
  1. You’ll want at least 18″ – 24″ of tail to work with
  2. Take a full turn around the base of the cleat
  3. Pass the working end up and over the horn of the cleat, diagonally
  4. Back around the other side of the base, then diagonally over the horn again, forming an X
  5. Here’s the sometimes tricky part: put the tail under the bit you’ve just brought over the top, forming a loop that goes over the opposite horn.
  6. When snugged down, the line should form a nice figure-8 as it crosses the horn of the cleat

And it’s just that easy!  Practice up and wow your fellow sailors at the Sailstice, or any other time it doesn’t seem too contrived.

** full disclosure: the images above were scarfed following a quick web search, and are used here with neither permission nor ill intent.  See a movie.  Read a book.  Make any copyright holders happy.

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