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How to Cleat a Line

Cleating a lines - steps 1-3

Cleating a Line

Does it seem like the more figure-eights you pile aboard a cleat, the safer your boat is? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the simplest and fastest way to cleat a line is also the easiest, safest, and most jam-proof.

Begin by taking a turn around the end of the cleat that’s farthest away from your boat as shown (1), then, after completing the turn (my preference) or stopping at the three-quarters mark (the preference of purists), take the line over the top of the cleat (2) like you were making the first half of a figure-eight. Next, keep going with the figure-eight scenario but convert the second half into a hitch by flipping the bight over (3) and popping it onto the cleat’s horn. Check your work by making sure you’ve got a one-line-on-top-of-two-parallel-lines configuration (4) and tighten.

cleated line complete

The video below will show you how to properly cleat a line :

flemished line

Don’t do it!

Because this cleat is so overwhelmed with line, casting off fast will be virtually impossible in an emergency, unless you have a sharp knife or a fire axe. And the rug? Flemished lines collect dirt underneath and can trip up passersby. Never, ever Flemish excess line on a deck or dock in the fashion shown.

Dipping the Eye

So you’re doing a spot of cruising and enter a marina late, say, about six o’clock in the evening, and simply toss a mooring line over a cleat your neighbor’s already using. Nothing wrong with that, eh? Except that the next morning, when he wants to hit the trail and you want to sleep late, you’re going to have to get out of that nice cozy berth, hit the dock in your jammies, and remove that darn line. Unless, of course, you’re cool with somebody else taking it off and perhaps forgetting to put it back on. Way better to, as they say, dip the eye.

How-to Guide to Knots, Hitches, and Linehandling Techniques ▶

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.