Originally Posted by jackdale
Double overhead - better stopper knot than a figure 8, which I do teach
Reef knot = square knot
Cow hitch = lark's head
Double sheet bend
Round turn and 2 half hitches
Bowline - perhaps with a safety
hitch (I teach 2 ways)
And I use them all.
Almost exactly the same as my list. I use Figure 8 for a stopper knot -- it's much prettier, and works well enough. I have a couple other friction hitches in my list besides rolling hitch -- Kleimheist, forget the name of the other.
I use a normal rather than double sheet bend.
I don't know (but would like to learn) the trucker's hitch.
Reef knot is almost useless on board -- I use it mostly for tying my shoes. But everyone knows it, so might as well be on the list I guess.
Most useful knot by far on board is the Bowline. I bet more than half of all knots on board are bowlines. Anyone acquiring knots for sailing from scratch should start with this, and don't learn any other knot until you can tie the bowline behind your back and with your eyes closed.
Second most useful knot on board, IMHO, is the rolling hitch. Which is just a clove hitch with an extra turn, so not really another knot to learn.
Clove hitch is very useful -- not very secure, but the perfect knot for quick, casual tying of something. Fenders, for example. Learn the variant you pre-make and throw over a pile -- also useful.
Sheet bend is the only knot in the list for joining two pieces of rope
together. And the only one you need, really. There are other bends which are more secure and stronger, but I can't tie any of them without a book, personally, and haven't suffered without them.
Round turn and two half hitches is so simple that it's not even a knot, really -- just do it. A very useful non-knot, very strong and secure.
Most important thing for newbies: don't try to learn too many, too fast. Knowing a knot is not useful until you have it in muscle memory and can tie it blindfolded. You could get by probably with bowline, rolling hitch, clove hitch, to begin with.
Main thing is to have an absolutely ace bowline -- be able to tie it in a second and with your eyes closed. That's the most essential knot skill, and the first thing to learn.
I loved Blue Crab's anecdote above -- hilarious.
Another thing every sailor should know how to do with ropes is whip the ends of them. There is nothing more horrible to see on a boat than ropes spilling their guts out of unwhipped ends. You can get by without splicing, but this is also a very useful skill.