How to Tie a Cleat Hitch

of 03

Make the First Loop

Close-up of rope tied in knot
Barbara Chase/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The cleat hitch is a special knot used to secure a line (rope) to a cleat. Almost all boats have cleats at the bow (to which an anchor line or forward dock line is tied) and at the stern (to which a dinghy tow line or aft dock line is tied). Cleats are also used on many boats to secure jibsheets or other running lines. Learn how to tie a cleat hitch for use in these situations

If a line is not correctly secured on the cleat using a cleat hitch, it can work itself loose. Learn to do it the right way and soon you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

Although cleats come in many sizes and shapes, most standard cleats have two “horns” around which the line is tied. The one shown here is a dock cleat used for tying up a boat.

Here’s the right way to tie a cleat hitch:

First, bring the line under load past the center of the cleat on the outside, and wrap it around under both horns.

of 03

Do Figure-Eight Turns

Cleat hitch step 2

Bring the line across and back under the first horn again in a figure-eight. Then make another figure-eight loop around the second horn.

of 03

Complete the Knot

Cleat hitch step 3

It is crucial that to pass the loose end of the line, called the bitter end, under itself as shown. This way, an increasing strain on the line will pull the knot tighter rather than loosening it.

Tips for Using a Cleat Hitch

  • For extra security and to prevent accidentally loosening the hitch, wrap the bitter end one full turn around the base of the cleat after completing step 3.
  • Tidy up any remaining loose line by coiling it and hanging it over the cleat or coiling it on the dock beside the cleat, to keep it out of the way.

Check out other basic sailing knots.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lochhaas, Tom. "How to Tie a Cleat Hitch." ThoughtCo, Feb. 29, 2016, Lochhaas, Tom. (2016, February 29). How to Tie a Cleat Hitch. Retrieved from Lochhaas, Tom. "How to Tie a Cleat Hitch." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 19, 2017).