Cleat hitch knot.

Tying a Boat to a Cleat Using a Cleat Hitch Knot

Written by Lenny Rudow
June 21, 2022

Last Updated on June 21, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

Learning the cleat hitch knot is a basic but imperative part of boating.

There are many knots for boaters that are important to learn, but none can trump the cleat hitch knot. Whether you’re launching at the ramp, securing the boat at the fuel dock, or pulling up to a dockside restaurant, you need to know how to tie a cleat. Luckily tying a boat to a cleat is easy, as you’re about to see in this video.

How to Tie Off a Boat to a Cleat

Let’s break this process down into a few easy-to-remember steps:

  1. Wrap the line around the base of the cleat.
  2. Wrap it around the horns of the cleat (the ends elevated above the base) in a figure-eight pattern. Going over each side twice is plenty, but more won’t hurt anything.
  3. Twist a loop into the line, circle the loop over the horn, and pull it tight.

If it seems simple, well, that’s because it is. Tying a boat to a cleat isn’t complex at all, and this cleat hitch knot will get the job done every time.

Tying a boat to a cleat.

Ready to Try it Yourself? Book a Boat Rental

Other Factors to Consider When Tying to a Cleat

We should also note that if there’s a loop spliced into the end of your dockline, there’s an even simpler way to tie off on some types of cleats.

Many have an opening in the base, between the horns. In this scenario, you can:

  1. Pass the loop in the end of your dockline through this opening.
  2. Then, fold it back around the horns of the cleat and pull it tight.

In some other cases, you may not have a cleat available. In this situation, it’s usually easiest to secure your line around a piling.

Dock piling.

You can also use a cleat hitch on a boat cleat, pass your line around the piling, then cleat the end back on the boat cleat on top of the first cleat hitch.

We hope that at this point, you’ll agree when we say that learning how to tie off a boat cleat is a piece of cake. But remember, it’s incredibly important because no matter where or how you do your boating, whether you own your own boat or decided to rent a boat for the afternoon, there’s a very good chance you’ll need to tie a cleat hitch at some point. From here on out, that should be no problem!

Already Own a Boat? Earn an Average of $20K/season by Renting it Out on Boatsetter

Browse by experience

Explore articles