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Knight on: Knots and Tackles


By E.F. KNIGHT, 1910.


The following are the more useful knots, bends, and hitches employed at sea for temporarily attaching ropes. They are all ingeniously contrived so as to hold securely and not to slip, while they can yet be undone easily and quickly, and do not jam like some of the wonderful and inextricable knots the greenhorn is apt to tie when carrying out an order in a hurry.

The OVERHAND KNOT (Fig. 17) is the knot which, as has already been stated, is tied in the strands when completing a long splice or a grommet.


Fig. 18 is a REEF KNOT. The reef-points of a sail are tied up with this knot, and it is also frequently of service for other purposes. It consists of two overhand knot& In tying the second knot care must be taken so to cross the ends that the standing part and end of each rope pass through the bight of the other rope together, and not from opposite sides, as they do in the Granny, of which at diagram is given (Fig. 19), so as to show the novice what he must studiously avoid making if he would avoid much chaff from the older hands.

The COMMON BEND (Fig. 20) is useful for bending two ropes together. A bight is made with the end of one rope. The end of the other rope is passed through the bight, round both parts of the bight, and under its own standing part. The bend is then pulled taut.


Two HALF HITCHES (Fig. 21) are used for bending a rope to a spar, a boat's painter to a dolphin, or a mooring-ring on the quay, etc.

A CLOVE HITCH (Fig. 22) is used to make fast a small rope to a larger standing rope or to a spar. Thus the ratlines are tied to the shrouds with clove hitches.

When a rope has to be bent on a spar quickly, this can be done by means of a TIMBER HITCH (Fig. 23). When jammed tight it will not slip; yet it can be cast off in a moment.

When a rope has to be attached temporarily to a hook (e.g. to the hook of a tackle) in order to get a pull on it, a BLACKWALL HITCH (Fig. 24) is employed.

When a rope has to be made fast to another rope in order to haul upon it, a ROLLING HITCH (Fig. 25) is used, as this will not slip down if properly made. Thus, when a shroud has to be hauled out taut for setting up, the tail end of the tackle is fastened to the shroud with this hitch. In the figure the hitch appears with its parts loose; but these, of course, have to be drawn together and jammed before applying the strain.


To form a loop in a rope that will not slip or jam, a BOWLINE KNOT is employed. To make this knot (Fig. 26) a little practice is required. In a RUNNING BOWLINE (Fig. 27) the loop made by the bowline knot runs upon the standing part of the rope, thus forming a running noose.

A BOWLINE ON A BIGHT (Fig. 28) is a bowline made after a different fashion on the doubled rope. It is used when the knot has to be made in the middle of the rope at a distance from the ends.


With a FISHERMAN'S BEND (Fig. 29) a rope can be very securely fastened to an anchor shackle, or mooring-ring. When employed for bending one's cable on to the anchor, the end of the rope should be seized on the standing part, as in the figure, with a piece of stout twine.


Gaff topsail halyards are generally bent on the topsail yard with a TOPSAIL HALYARD BEND, which cannot slip if properly made and drawn close. This bend (Fig. 30) is made by taking three turns round the yard with the halyard, leading it back over the standing part, under the three turns, and back under the first turn.

The topsail sheet is bent to the cringle of the topsail with a TOPSAIL SHEET BEND (Fig. 31).

(Fig. 32)
is employed to shorten a rope temporarily, e.g. a topmast shroud, when the topmast is lowered. On most yachts, however, nowadays, wire topmast shrouds are used instead of hemp ones, each shroud having two joints, so that when the topmast is housed, the lowest joint is unshackled and stowed away, and the upper joint, being just of the right length, is set up with the tackle or lanyards.


There are various tackles and purchases employed on a yacht's rigging, by which mechanical advantage is gained; but of course what is gained in power is lost in time. Thus a system of pulleys that enables a pull of five pounds to raise fifty pounds, involves the hauling of ten times the length of rope through the blocks than would be the case were no purchase used. On a small yacht, therefore, where it is important that sails should be hoisted and lowered quickly, no purchase should be more powerful than is absolutely necessary, that is, it should just enable one man to do the particular work for which it is employed. To overblock a little yacht entails a delay in every operation, and an increased risk of ropes jamming.

The following are the tackles and purchases in common use on small yachts :--

The SINGLE-WHIP PURCHASE (Fig. 33) has a single block. This is the purchase employed for the fore and jib halyards of a small cutter; the block, as is explained in the chapter on a cutter's rigging, being hooked on to the cringle of the sail. A pull of one pound on the hauling part puts a strain of two pounds on the block.

The WHIP-UPON-WHIP PURCHASE (Fig. 34) is employed for the preventer backstays on small cutters. A pull of one pound on the hauling part exerts a force of four pounds at the upper block.


The GUN-TACKLE PURCHASE (Fig. 35) has two single blocks with the standing part of the rope made fast to the upper block. A pull of one pound on the hauling part exerts a force of three pounds at the upper block. This purchase can be employed for bowsprit shrouds, main tack tricing line, etc.

A LUFF-TACKLE PURCHASE (Fig. 36) has the same power as the whip-upon-whip purchase. It has one single and one double block, the standing part of the tackle being fastened to the single block. It is used for a variety of purposes, among others for the main sheet on a small cutter.

A WATCH TACKLE is a luff tackle with a tail rope some feet in length-on the double block, and a hook on the single block. A watch tackle should always be kept in some convenient place on a yacht's deck, for it is employed on all sorts of odd jobs which more beef' is wanted. It is indeed almost worth an extra hand on board, so sailors dub it the "Handy Billy." Among other things it is useful for setting up the rigging. It is employed as follows: the single block is hooked on to a ring-bolt on deck, or to a strop or bight of a rope secured to the bits or other strong piece of timber; while the tail of the double block is fastened by a rolling hitch (see Fig. 25) to the shroud or rope which has to be hauled taut.


Power can be multiplied when necessary, by clapping one purchase on another. A Luff-upon-Luff Tackle, for example, is formed with two watch tackles by bending the tail of the double block of the second tackle on the fall of the first tackle. A pull of one pound on the hauling part will then exert a force of sixteen pounds at the further end of the tackle.

If some accident happen to one part of a tackle or purchase -- if a strand be chafed through, for example -- and it becomes necessary to repair the damage, while at the same time it is undesirable to slack up the tackle, or to take it from the work it is doing (e.g. in the case of a yacht's halyards or sheets during a close race), the tackle can be racked while the repair is being carried on. Thus, if the hauling part of the throat halyards be cut, the other three or more parts of the halyards are racked by passing a piece of thin line round and between them several times tightly, and then tying the two ends of the line together with a reef knot. This grips the parts, prevents the halyard from running through the blocks, and enables them to hold on and withstand the strain put upon them, while the injured part is cast loose and repaired at leisure.

Some of the blocks used on board a yacht -- those, for example, which are hooked on to the mast for the throat and peak halyards -- are usually stropped with iron; and in the neatly finished blocks, the iron is covered by the shell of the block. But for other parts of the rigging ordinary blocks are employed; and the amateur sailor should know how to splice an eye in the end of a piece of hemp or wire rope for the strop of a tail block, and how to make a grommet, or a selvagee strop.

I have already explained how to splice an eye in a rope, and how to make a grommet. For stropping a block a SELVAGEE STROP is to be preferred to a grommet, though both are used for this purpose. A selvagee strop is thus made: two large nails are firmly driven into a piece of board at a distance apart of about half the circumference of the required strop. One end of a ball of rope-yarn is fastened to one of the nails, and the yarn is wound round the two nails (see Fig. 37) as tightly as possible, until the ring thus formed is sufficiently stout. Then the yarns are tied together, or marled at short intervals, with twine, and lastly the strop is well stretched with tackle.

Grommets made of wire rope can be advantageously employed on a small vessel for the strops of the main-sheet blocks, as such grommets cannot stretch so much as to allow the blocks to slip through them-a not infrequent accident, and a very awkward one, when a rope strop is used. All strops, whether of rope or wire, whether selvagee strops, grommets, or eye-splices, should be coated with canvas, or, better still, with leather. If coated with canvas, the strop should be painted; if leather is employed, it should be sewn on the strop wet, as it will shrink when dry, and so fit tightly to the strop.

It is well to have a swivel or revolving hook on one of the blocks of any movable tackle forming part of the rigging, for example, on the tackle of the runners and of the preventer backstays. This will enable turns to be taken out of the tackle without unhooking it.

Galvanised CLIP-HOOKS (Fig. 38) should be spliced into the ends of such parts of rigging as have frequently to be hooked and unhooked. When hooking a clip-hook to an eye, the two parts of the clip-hook are opened out; they are then closed over the eye, one part overlapping the other. The two parts should always be seized together, else they may shake open and release the eye. Mousing is the sailor's name for this operation.

In Fig. 38 is shown the method usually employed on small boats for hooking the jib-sheets on to the clew of the jib by means of clip-hooks. The sheets are formed by one rope, in the middle of which the eye of the clip-hooks is seized with strong twine. Clip-hooks are more convenient than the wooden toggles often used for jib-sheets, and are also to be preferred to spring clip-hooks, which are apt to shake open despite the spring which is supposed to keep them closed.

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2.0 12/02/00