shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Rolling Hitch

January 2, 2012

Before writing about a knot or one of its cousins, I always consult the knot guru, Brion Toss and his reference The Complete Rigger's Apprentice. This time, after scanning his advice on the uses of a rolling hitch I found an interesting line that I shared with Dave.

"Toss says a rolling hitch is 'ridiculously underused.'"
"Not on this boat. Just looking forward I see 6 of them. If I turn around there are probably 10 more. Just on deck."

We are compulsive rolling hitch users, and we aren't ashamed to admit it. Our flag halyards are tied to the shrouds with rolling hitches. The drifter halyard is rolling hitched to itself to keep it away from the mast until we need it. We use a rolling hitch to tie towels to the lifelines and to hang the kerosene anchor light. My favorite reason to use a rolling hitch is in any situation when I may want to change the position of the knot later on. A rolling hitch will slide in one direction, but not the other, determined by how you tie it. It holds well to slippery surfaces like lifelines and rigging, meaning you can hang items without worrying about them sliding. In Panama we hung a solar panel from the rigging with all four corners held up by a string with a rolling hitch. As the sun moved or we swung, we could adjust the panel in any way to follow the sun without ever worrying that the panel would slide down the rigging. When it is particularly important that the hitch not slide, we tie two rolling hitches, one above the other.

If you know how to tie a clove hitch, you can tie a rolling hitch by being sure to put your first wrap in the direction you do NOT want the line to slide, and put two wraps in that direction. Continue like you would a clove hitch.

If you're not familiar with a clove hitch, we'll start from the beginning. In this situation we will assume that you do not want the line to slide toward you.

Bitter end over the object you are tying to

Take the bitter end of the line over your fixed object--lifeline, rigging, dowel, oar, whatever the case may be.

Under and over

Pass the line under and then over, being sure that the first wrap is in the direction that you do not want the line to slip.


Pass the bitter end under and over again, still in the direction that you do not want the line to slip.

Under on the other side

Pass the bitter end under the object again, but this time on the other side of the standing end. In other words, in the direction that the line can slide.

Over and under the line where it crossed the hitch

Bring the line over the object and under the line where it passed over the hitch in progress.



The two wraps are in the direction you do NOT want the line to slip.

When tied like this, you can pull the standing end toward you, the direction in which you put two wraps on the object. The hitch will not slide in this direction.

Or pull a bight through

A rolling hitch is so easy to spill that we usually don't worry with tying it with a bight. One exception to this is when we hang our harbor awning. We first used this awning in Panama where afternoon thunderstorms were violent and fast. In order to be able to douse the awning in seconds, we had to tie it to the rigging with rolling hitches with a bight. When bringing the bitter end under the part of the line that crossed over the hitch, pull a bight of line through instead of passing the bitter end through.



Whether you are tying line to line, rigging, lifelines, poles, or anchor chain, a rolling hitch can help you get a grip and keep it.

MONDAY we'll get a little superstitious, like all sailors and baseball players are known to be. Plan to rename your boat? Be sure you appease all the necessary gods when attempting such a risky move. We'll tell you how.

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