Six knots for sailors that I think are vital (these we should be able to do without thinking and need lots of repetition to become engrained). This will cover you for 90% of knots you need to tie:
Rolling, Cleat, 'Round turn & two half hitches'
Zeppelin plus variation for when lines are of different diameter
Nice next additions (take your pick):
- Bowline on the bight (for when a midline loop is needed)
bowline (very secure loop, better if line will be loaded and unloaded lightly or in water)
- Figure 8 (nice one for trucker's hitch)
- Double overhand (won't undo as easily as the figure 8 and just as quick)
- Clove (can either undo easily or jam, but useful for light temporary attachment; also the basis for lots of other knots)
- Cow (useful midline hitch, but can both slip and jam)
- Buntline (very secure but jams)
(when the standing part needs to be tightened securely down)
- Constrictor (to hold lines from unravelling while whipping or splicing, or for garbage bags)
- Icicle or Klemheist (to attach your snubber more securely than a rolling hitch if you are not using a soft shackle)
- Tugboat (where a line under load needs to be kept around a winch
, but you want to take the pressure off the paws)
- Sheet bend (very quick, holds reasonably if lines same diameter, load needs to be put on near instantly though and not released as it can shake loose very easily). Edited to add: you may want to move the sheet bend up into the 'vital' section, there are good reasons to do so.
- Fisherman and Double Fisherman (double is super strong, but both versions will jam), used to make a strong loop = Prusik loop
Shortening knot midline:
Short amount: - Alpine Butterfly loop (nice midline loop if the load is only being put on the standing ends and the loop is needed to attach something on; excellent for isolating a damaged section of line
Long amount: Handcuff with a marlinspike hitch to secure the end (better than a Man-o'war sheepshank; don't use an ordinary sheepshank, as it is very unstable if not under the perfect amount of tension).
More for keen knot tyers:
handed Bowline (emergency)
- Bowline with a Yosemite finish (not quite as secure as the Water
B, but much better than the standard version when the line is being loaded and unloaded before much load has been put on it and it is easier than the Water B).
- Ashley (bulkier than the above)
- Diamond (for soft shackles)
- Carrick (need to know it to learn the Diamond easily),