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How To Tie A Rolling Hitch

Learning how to tie the very useful rolling hitch can get you out of a jam — literally.

Rolling hitch knot tied to chain

The rolling hitch works very well with chain, as the links ensure that the line won’t slip.

The rolling hitch is a very useful knot to learn. It allows you to take the strain off another line or rope that is under tension. This knot is especially handy for sailors, who can use it to relieve the strain on a sheet around a winch that has formed itself into a tangle or a riding turn that cannot be freed. It is also a useful knot when a fender may need to be tied to a stanchion or other vertical boat part.


The rolling hitch is intended for use when the line is parallel to the load.

Rolling hitch step 1

1. Take a turn around the line under strain, which, for the purposes of this photo series, is the white one.

Rolling hitch step 2

2. Take the working end of the line around the line under strain for a second turn, bringing it around on the inside of the first turn, i.e., closer to the standing part.

Rolling hitch step 3

3. Pass the working end over the top of the line under strain and bring it back up, passing it under itself.

Rolling hitch finished knot

4. Snug everything down. Strain can now be applied to the standing part of the line, which will not slip, enabling you to sort out the mess on, say, a winch drum.

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Mark Corke

Contributing Editor, BoatUS Magazine

A marine surveyor and holder of RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certification, BoatUS Magazine contributing editor Mark Corke is one of our DIY gurus, creating easy-to-follow how-to articles and videos. Mark has built five boats himself (both power and sail), has been an experienced editor at several top boating magazines (including former associate editor of BoatUS Magazine), worked for the BBC, written four DIY books, skippered two round-the-world yachts, and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest there-and-back crossing of the English Channel — in a kayak! He and his wife have a Grand Banks 32.