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Knots to Know

Yes: the classic NRS cam buckle tie-down strap has eliminated much of the knot-tying that used to go with rafting and kayaking. But there’s still no substitute for rope for lots of paddling applications.

Charlie Walbridge, coauthor of Whitewater Rescue Manual, comes out from the East periodically to train NRS employees in swift water rescue. He recommends that every river runner learn several key knots.

Figure Eight Knot

The Figure Eight family of knots includes the Figure Eight on a Bight. This knot is used to put a loop on the end of a rope; it’s easier to tie and untie and more reliable than the bowline. The In-line Figure Eight creates a loop midway along the length of a rope. A Figure Eight Tracer Knot can be used to join two ropes of equal diameter and is easily untied.

A Double Fisherman’s Knot is ideal for joining two ropes of slightly different diameter; however, it’s very difficult to untie. The Water Knot is best for joining two ends of webbing. The Taut-Line Hitch Knot is handy for tying a boat to shore when water levels are fluctuating and for adjusting tent and tarp guy lines.

Instructions and diagrams for tying these knots are found in most of the books available on river running and rescue. Remember: swiftwater rescue techniques are best learned in a class with qualified instructors. If you can’t find classes in your area, give us a call and we’ll try to help.