The Clove Hitch Knot is a divisive knot. It’s fun to learn and has many uses, but it’s not the strongest knot out there and there are far better alternatives that could be used instead. Even so, it’s an important knot for all sailors to have in their repertoire.

A Clove Hitch is a multi-purpose hitch that’s quick and easy to tie and loosen. Most of the time, it’s used as a crossing knot or for binding, though it’s not particularly good for binding. It consists of two consecutive half-hitches looped around an object. It gives the impression of a strong knot, but in reality, it’s very untrustworthy. The Clove Hitch can easily come loose if constant pressure isn’t kept on it, and sometimes it can even bind when you don’t want it to!

It’s not secure in that respect, but it does have some practical uses.

Firstly, it can be used a quick knot to secure something while you’re in the process of making a stronger knot. Secondly, some sailors like to use the Clove Hitch to secure a boat’s fender to a railing. For boat fenders, this is a fine knot to use, especially when adjusted and secured with the addition of two more half-hitches around the standing end. Since boat fenders aren’t the most mission-critical pieces of equipment on a boat, you can use a Clove Hitch with them.

It can also be used for climbing, but we’re not climbers and don’t claim to be climbing experts here. We recommend you visit this page if you want to know more about climbing knots.

If you want to learn how to tie a Clove Hitch knot, here’s how!

How To Tie A Clove Hitch Knot

Grab a length of rope and get ready to tie your first ever Clove Hitch Knot!

Step 1: With your rope, wrap the free end around an object or piling.

Step 2: Cross the rope over itself, wrapping around the object or piling a second time.

Step 3: Thread the working end of the rope under itself (under the last wrap).

Step 4: Pull the end tight to execute a successful Clove Hitch.

Other Things To Consider

Now that you’ve successfully learned how to tie a Clove Hitch Knot, there are a few extra tricks you can learn, and a couple of things you should keep in mind before using it. Unlike most knots, the Clove Knot isn’t particularly well-suited to many jobs.

One-Handed Knot Tying

The Clove Hitch can also be tied with just one hand. This cool feat requires a fair amount of dexterity to perform. There’s a quite a useful guide on how to pull this one-handed knot off here.


Again, we have to stress that this isn’t the best knot for most boating applications since it has a tendency to slip or bind when you least want it to. These knots can slip when they’re put under variable tensions. As a boat naturally moves when moored, this can be enough to undo a Clove Hitch Knot.

Similarly, these knots can also bind to irreversible proportions! The risk of this happening is increased when the Clove Knot is stacked with additional Half Hitches for added security. These additional knots can cause major strain that can cause your original knot to bind so much that’s it’s almost impossible to untie.

Alternative Knots

Practical alternatives to the Clove Hitch include other knots such as the Bowline Hitch, Cleat Hitch, Rolling Hitch, and A Round Turn And Two Half Hitches. These are ideal alternatives for mooring purposes. However, if you need an alternative for whipping a frayed rope, then a Constrictor Knot is a better choice than the Clove.

The Clove Hitch Knot: In Summary

This quick and easy knot can help in a wide range of circumstances, but it should never truly be relied upon. It might be quick to execute, but it can be fickle and come undone or tighten up on a whim. For that reason, we recommend that you only use it for boat fenders, and find a more suitable knot for just about any other boating-related task you can think of.