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Southern Spars - North Technology

The No.1 Most Important Hitch for Sailing and How to Use It!

by John Jamieson on 12 Aug 2011
Rolling hitch SW
Master rigger and author Brion Toss calls the rolling hitch the single most 'ridiculously underused' nautical knot today. And for good reason...

Not many knots can be tied or untied under strain. Or loosened when wet. Or will hold in place without slipping on a wet rail or spar. Or save your life when other less worthy knots might give way. Check out this short list of uses for the super reliable rolling hitch...


* Provides a safety backup line when going aloft.

* Takes the riding turns (jams) off of a sailboat sheet winch.

* Warps a small cruising boat around at anchor.

* Turns a clove hitch into a powerful knot for mooring.

* Replaces half-hitches on any line for more security.

* Secures fenders in place without slipping.

* Attaches line, rigging gear, or tackle onto a rail.


How to Tie the R-O-L-L-ing Hitch:

Use the memory key R-O-L-L to remember the steps to tie a rolling hitch. Practice these four steps along with the illustration until you can tie it without looking:

R - Roll toward the load

Start the hitch with two round turns in the direction of the weight (load). If you are the weight, roll the first two turns toward you (illustration 1).

O - Overlap the first turns

Make the 'hitch' with a pass over the first two turns in a direction away from the load (illustration 2).

L - Loop under the hitch

Pass a loop beneath the hitch, just like you would with a clove hitch (illustration 2). Add a second half hitch for extra security.

L - Lower the load slow and easy

Take care not to jerk or shock the load. Butt up the turns next to one another (illustration 3). Then, ease the weight onto the hitch in a smooth motion.

Use this easy four-step memory aid to tie one of the most secure, reliable marine knots in existence. Give this safe, secure hitch a berth aboard your boat to help keep you and your sailing crew safe and sound.

John Jamieson (Captain John) is a writer, marine illustrator, nationally certified sailing instructor, and licensed captain for sail and power. For hundreds of sailing skills tips like these, visit his website at www.skippertips.com

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