What's a cleat anyway? - Precious Knots

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What's a cleat anyway?

  • por Liz T
  • 3 lectura mínima

In our first blog post, I talked a bit about my first summer of sailing and how 10-year-old Liz was so proud to tie her first knot: the cleat. This became my favorite knot and the inspiration for our flagship ring and Precious Knots. But you might be wondering... what is a cleat knot?

A knot is a knot, unless it's not.

First of all, the cleat knot is technically a hitch. When we think of a knot, we typically think of any tied rope (or tangled headphones, or that nasty necklace loop that you just can't undo). But, not all knots are actually true knots. A true "knot" holds its form alone, without looping around an object or another rope. When the knot depends on another rope, it's technically a bend, and when the knot depends on some other object, it's technically a hitch. Don't get too tied up (pun intended!) in these distinctions - we still call it a cleat knot sometimes, and it makes for great jewelry either way.

Cleat can take the heat.

As you might have guessed, the cleat hitch exists only when rope is tied around a cleat. Not to be confused with shoes designed for soccer, a nautical cleat is simply a "device for securing rope." It usually looks like a long, thin metal rod fastened by two posts, but cleats can be all sorts of shapes and sizes. 

I learned the cleat knot as a young sailor because it's one of the most important knots to know before you sail. Why? It ties your boat to the dock! Next time you walk along a harbor, you might notice cleats for visiting boats. Ropes attached to the boat, also called "lines," are used to tie the boat to the dock. Cleats are also used on flagpoles, clotheslines, and anywhere that you might need to keep tension on a rope. 

How does one little hitch keep an entire boat tied up securely? Tension! The the harder the rope is pulled, the tighter and stronger the cleat hitch becomes. The cleat hitch is so strong that in a big storm, when a boat is being pulled really hard away from the dock, the metal cleat sometimes snaps or pops off of the dock before the cleat hitch fails! So in addition to being downright beautiful, the cleat hitch symbolizes strength under pressure.

Want to tie a cleat?

If you have a railing, handlebar, or anything resembling a cleat, you can learn to tie a hitch to match your jewelry! It's a little tricky without an actual cleat, but it can be fun to learn and you might have the chance to show off your skills the next time you find yourself on a dock. The cleat hitch is basically a series of strategic loops that make the rope really taught around the cleat.

Rather than confuse you with step by step instructions, we recommend this awesome tutorial

While the cleat is my favorite and inspired Precious Knots, we have lots more nautical and knot jewelry! Right now, we are designing a line of delicate rope rings. They might not depict a knot, but they capture that wonderful nautical nostalgia that our jewelry is all about. Check them out here and join our email list to get occasional alerts about new products, sales, and blog posts. 

Thanks for joining us for some nautical fun! Do you have a favorite from your childhood that has inspired your work or your style? Share with us in the comments!