As suggested in a previous blog I recommend that you purchase a suitable length (say 1.5metres) of soft braided rope, 6 to 8mm. diameter and set it up on the back rail of a chair, towel rail or bed end so it is in position permanently. Every time you go past, grab the rope and tie a knot or two. This way, you will soon find you can tie several basic knots very quickly.
The other day I came across this informative little kit on knot tying. it consists of a manual and a dvd showing how to tie a wide range of knots. The clarity is excellent and the step by step process on the dvd makes it very simple to follow.
You can see from my images that the book is illustrated with very clear and simple instructions on how to tie a knot.
The 180 minute dvd takes it all to a higher level again with visual step by step demonstrations in slow motion, so you can easily follow and have time to make adjustments as you go. A simple click on your mouse stops the frame whilst you check you are tying correctly before proceeding to the next step.
The bowline, which is the knot you are just about most likely to use more than any other knot is shown very simply. This knot you need to practice from all angles as you need to be able to tie it quickly, sometimes in pressure situations, for example throwing a line around a pile or cleat on a wharf/jetty/marina berth as you are approaching, especially in a breeze or wind. Your window of opportunity in these situations may be only a few seconds, particularly if there is no one on the dock to help you. So you need to be able to throw the line around smartly and secure your vessel immediately.
Once your yacht is secure fore and aft, then you can go about confidently and comfortably adjusting all of your lines to make your boat snug and secure.
With practice, from this manual, you will be able to carry out this procedure in ten seconds flat or even less! don't believe me? then set up your line on the back of a chair and practice till you can. You will find you can get to twenty seconds quite easily, then fifteen seconds. It will take a little longer to pare off that last five seconds to get down to ten, but with a little time and patience, you will.
The kit goes on showing you how to tie the Fishermans Bend, Clove Hitch, Rolling Hitch and Sheet Bend. Many other knots are included and then it moves onto lashings, whippings and splicing.
Once you have caught the bug, you will want to go on and learn all of these knots. The author, Egmont Friedl has been tying knots since he was lad and runs many seminars on this subject. You can visit him on his website http://www.emf-marine.de/ and learn much more on this fascinating and essential subject for cruising sailboat sailors.
When you have really caught the bug you can scout around for the all time doyen book of knot tying 'Ashley's Book of Knots'. This is a six hundred page volume first published way back in 1944. I have a wonderful mint 1957 edition at home which sits in pride of place amongst my sailing books. A search over time in Old and Antique bookstores should eventually unearth one.
Images courtesy Egmont Friedl
You can read much more about tying up to strange jetties and poles whilst cruising in far away places in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com