July 2013

Mastering marlinespike

Tugboat hitch

You use the tugboat hitch, or bitt hitch, to secure the ends of the tow line to the boats for towing. It holds well, won’t jam, and can be untied or released under load in an emergency.

Before towing or being towed, make sure the deck hardware on both boats is designed for towing, with through-bolted cleats or frame-mounted Samson posts. Also, don’t use a line that stretches, such as laid nylon, when towing. Polypropylene or polyethylene rope’s low elasticity makes it best for towing. People have been injured or killed while towing when a stretchy line parted or a cleat came loose.

Tugboat hitch

A. To apply a bitt hitch, take the bitter end around the base to the left, and lead the end over and around the working part.

B. Finish by leading the bitter end around the back of the bitt, ending in a half hitch under the Norman pin. You can add a second half hitch for security.

Original materials used with thanks to Irene Rodriguez and John Bennett


Ship's Store

Mastering Marlinespike


Cleat hitch

Round turn with two half hitches

Clove hitch

Sheet bend

Figure eight

Anchor bend

Rolling hitch

Double sheet bend

Eye splice

Becket bend

Reef knot

Blood knot

True lover’s knot

Monkey’s fist

Carrick bend

Angler’s loop

Strangle knot

Jar sling

Japanese success knot

Spanish bowline

Stevedore knot

Heaving line knot

Three-part crown knot

Sack knot

Short splice

Constrictor knot

Slip knot

Japanese bowline

Hawser bend

Slipped bowline

Bowline on a bight

Lark’s head

Buntline hitch

Jury mast knot

Slipped buntline hitch

Painter’s bowline

Binder’s loop

Wall and crown knot

Inside cow hitch

Toggled reef knot

Long splice

Tugboat hitch

Crown sennit

Toggled lark’s head

Matthew Walker knot


Back splice


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