Knots

Monkey Fist

This knot is a favorite for key chains and ornaments, but it has a much more practical purpose.

A Monkey Fist adds a considerable amount of mass at the end of a line, allowing this to be tossed across great distances as it trails a small messenger line. Once this line is transferred, the real mooring warp can be hauled to bring the boat into berth.

The video below shows how to tie a Monkey Fist.

Chafe Resistant Bowline

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When you tie a bowline to another bowline, you risk the two loops sawing on each other and actually chafing through! To prevent this, all you need to do is pass the line a few times through the loop. 

This will take any movement out of the system and allow your two lines to hold securely without the fear of chafe.  

We do this to tie the bow line of the dinghy to the painter. The painter has a bowline tied in it and we simply tie up to the loop. Having these wraps means that we can sleep easily without worrying about the dinghy sawing through its painter and drifting away quietly into the night.  

Backstay Flag Halyard

Flag halyards are small halyards designed to raise and support a flag. The backstay is a great place to fly a flag because it will allow the flag to fly clear of any obstructions that could otherwise tangle or snag the flag as the wind shifts. 

Now, to install a backstay flag halyard, you have to install a block of some sort high up on the backstay,. This will be the maximum height that the flag will be raised, and there are two options on how to do this. First, you can climb the mast (via the backstay) and attach the block on the backstay itself. The second method is to tie a hitch knot that will hold in one direction, and slide in the other.  

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I opted for the second method, as we do not need the flag to be too high up, so by tying a hitch knot on the dyneema backstay, I was able to then simply push the knot up the backstay with a pole. This allowed me to raise this point without leaving the deck! (Be sure to install the halyard in the block before you push it up the backstay though). 

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This hitch knot will slide up but when the block is pulled down, it will bind on the dyneema and hold firmly in place.

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If you have a backstay adjuster, you want to make sure that the flag halyard remains lower than the lowest position of the backstay adjuster. This will keep the flag halyard from interfering with the more important function of the backstay adjuster. 

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With the halyard installed, you can fly your flag from the backstay! 

Climbing Your Mast on a Wire Halyard

First off, I want to emphasize that you should never climb a mast with a wire halyard, or a wire-rope spliced halyard. 

Now, if you have a wire halyard and you need to go up, then you need to make due with what you have! 

If your halyard isn't long enough to reach your harness, now you need to attach a length of line between the end of the halyard and your harness, that way when you are finished, you will end up on the deck and not suspended a few feet above the deck when you are tired and want to get out of the harness! 

Wire is dangerous to tie knots in because it is both slippery and brittle. If you bend it too tightly, it will crimp and kink, damaging and weakening the wire strands and leading to its eventual breakage. Keeping bends open will also make it easier for the knot to slip and come untied. Thus you encounter the dilemma of tying a knot in wire and rope! 

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While helping out a cruiser climb her mast, I tied this knot between the two materials to allow her to hang safely from her wire halyard. The knot is a combination of a sheet bend and a figure eight in a bight. An important thing to do with this knot is to certainly secure the bitter ends. I attached the shackle of the wire onto itself and the bight of the rope had the tail passing through it. These added features are merely present so that if the knot were to slip, it would slid onto the attached bitter end and stop moving from there. 

Naturally, since this knot is new to me and created on the fly out of necessity, our cruiser friend who was in the harness and at deck level was encourage to drop from her feet to a seated position to test the knot and verify that there is no slippage or other concerns that might occur while she was aloft. 

While creating a new knot, be sure to test it at its desired function, and incorporate some method that will facilitate ease of untying after the knots intended purpose has been completed.