Sailing knots you need to know - Tie the five-second stopper knot

If you are anything like me, you want a solid, secure sailing knot in the end of your headsail sheets to keep them from running back through your sailboat blocks.

The figure eight has been used as an end stopper on a headsail sheet for many years. Stoppers are used on the bitter end to prevent the headsail sheet from running back out through the sheet lead blocks. But there's just one problem...

The figure eight has a nasty reputation of spilling--or untying--just when you need it to stay secure. As an alternate, tie the overhand stopper knot to end. It's fast to tie, more secure, and won't spill as easy. Follow the illustrations and text below.

1. Make a Round Turn: Hold your non-dominant hand with the palm vertical and thumb up (illustration 1). Make a round turn with the bitter end on the side closest to your fingertips.

2. Pass the End Over the Turns: Grab the bitter end and pass it over the turns (illustration 2). Make sure you have at least 6' of bitter end for this second step.

3. Tuck the End Beneath the Turns: Push the bitter end under the turns in your palm (illustration 3).

4. Grab the Bitter End and Pull: Grasp the bitter end with your dominant hand (illustration 4). Pull outward on each end of the line to cinch it down.

5. Compact the Stopper Knot: Tighten the stopper so that it compacts into a tight ball (illustration 5). This makes it safe and secure and keeps it from spilling (untying itself).

Replace the weak figure eight on your small cruising boat with this powerhouse sailing knot. It will give you more security and peace-of-mind, no matter how hard the sailing wind blows!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website for a free issue of the highly popular 'Captain John's Sailing Tips' newsletter.

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