|How you should NOT tie your cleat knots|
The biggest mistake most people make is that they just keep wrapping the line over and over in a figure eight until the cleat is completely buried. Often, they compound that mistake by securing every turn with a locking hitch. If you ever need to untie the cleat above in an emergency, you would be better off cutting the line with a knife.
|How to tie a proper cleat hitch|
At the end of this blog post, there is a Wall of Shame, featuring some of the worst examples I could find online. I thought it might be creepy for me to walk around the marina taking pictures of other people's boats. Plus I don't want to embarrass any of my dock mates. <grin>
One last thing about these hitches. Only use the locking hitch on dock lines and other important lines that you don't want to untie in a hurry. Never use the locking hitch on a jib sheet or main sheet. Use an extra crossover and call it done. If you get hit with a wind gust and need to dump the sail or tack unexpectedly, that extra time to untie the locking hitch could cost you precious time in an urgent situation.
What about all this left over line now that it's not wrapped around my cleat?
|Properly tied cleat with a flemish coil beside it.|
Not the best choice for long term stowage.
Many people think there's nothing more beautiful than a nice tight flemish coil laying on the deck. They are nice to look at but I would never leave one for weeks at a time (or longer). Over time, moisture and dirt will accumulate under the coil and leave dirty, moldy circle on your clean decks, as well as degrade and stain the line. Another problem is that the line gets all twisted and it doesn't handle well, especially after the curls have baked in the sun for weeks. As you can probably guess, I am not a fan of flemish coils. It's fine if you're leaving it for a couple days while cruising, but not for the long term.
|Left: Lifeline Coil Right: Hanging Coil|
I use a lifeline coil when, for instance, I want to keep a jib-furling line or other lighter line quickly accessible but out of the way. After coiling the line, I drape it over the top lifeline or pulpit railing. Reaching from inboard through the middle of the part of the coil nearest me, I grab all the line outboard and pull it through the loop inboard. (See photo, left.) It can be easily undone when it's time to use the line. Care should be taken to ensure that the line never comes under strain while coiled or it could pull your stanchions out.
The hanging coil is the traditional way, basically a regularly coiled line, secured with a wrap and the bitter end pulled through, which is then tied to whatever fitting is nearby. To fashion a hanging coil, coil a line and leave a longish tail, about three-quarters of a loop. Beginning about a quarter of the way down from where you're holding the coil, and starting low and working up, wrap the tail tightly around the whole coil, but no more than three or four times. Reach through the top part of the coil and pull a loop of the tail through. Take the remaining part of the tail and from the other side of the line put it through the loop you've just made. You'll have a neatly coiled line ready for hanging.
Cleat Hitch Wall of Shame
|All the load is on one bolt at the dock.|
|At least he didn't use a flemish coil!|
|And the grand prize winner!|
Class adjourned. Now GO SAILING!