How To Tie Off A Boat Cleat: A Step-By-Step Guide

Cleat Hitch How to tie a Cleat Hitch
Cleat Hitch How to tie a Cleat Hitch from


Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a novice boater, knowing how to properly tie off a boat cleat is an essential skill. Securing your boat to a dock or another vessel is crucial for safety and stability. In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of tying off a boat cleat, ensuring that your boat stays secure in any condition.

Choosing the Right Type of Knot

Before we dive into the process, it’s important to understand the different types of knots you can use to tie off a boat cleat. The two most common knots used are the cleat hitch and the clove hitch. The cleat hitch is more secure and suitable for longer periods, while the clove hitch is quicker to tie and untie.

Step 1: Preparing the Lines

Start by preparing the lines you will be using to tie off your boat cleat. Ensure that the lines are long enough to reach the cleat securely and have a little extra length for flexibility.

Step 2: Determine the Direction

Look at the direction of the dock or the vessel you are tying off to. Determine whether you will be tying off on the port or starboard side of your boat.

Step 3: Approach the Cleat

Slowly approach the cleat, making sure to maintain control of your boat. Keep an eye on any potential obstacles or other vessels in the area.

Step 4: Pass the Line

Take the line and pass it around the base of the cleat, ensuring that it goes under the first horn of the cleat.

Step 5: Create a Figure-Eight

Create a figure-eight shape by crossing the line over itself and then bringing it back towards the cleat. This will form a loop around the first horn of the cleat.

Step 6: Loop Around the Second Horn

Take the line and loop it around the second horn of the cleat. Ensure that the line is pulled tight, but not too tight that it restricts movement.

Step 7: Repeat the Process

If you have additional lines, repeat steps 4-6 for each line, ensuring that they are evenly spaced and secured on the cleat.

Step 8: Adjust and Secure

Once all the lines are secured on the cleat, adjust the tension by pulling on each line individually. This will ensure that your boat is secure and stable.

Step 9: Double Check

Take a moment to double-check all the lines and knots to ensure that everything is properly secured. This will give you peace of mind and prevent any accidents while you’re away from your boat.

Step 10: Untying the Cleat

When it’s time to untie the cleat, simply reverse the process. Start by loosening the tension on each line and remove them from the cleat one by one.


Tying off a boat cleat may seem daunting at first, but with practice and following these steps, you’ll become a pro in no time. Remember to choose the right type of knot for your specific needs and always double-check your work for safety. Now you can confidently secure your boat to a dock or another vessel, ensuring a safe and enjoyable boating experience.