Stopper knots: why, how and where
If you’ve ever had to re-run a line that slipped back through a rope clutch, or even worse, fish one that you lost back down the mast or the boom, you know first hand the value of a stopper knot. Stopper knots, tied near the end of various pieces of running rigging, prevent such troublesome situations from occurring. But which knot to use, that is the question?
We typically use a simple Figure 8, but there are all manner of knots that will do the job. The excellent website Animatedknots.com shows how to tie a number of them.
Where to tie the Stopper Knot
One thing that I’ve recently started doing is to tie my stopper knots a foot or so from the end of the line, as opposed to right near the very end. This was suggested to me by Jason on Two Fish while we were en route to the Galapagos (you have a lot of time to talk shop when you’re on an ocean passage). His thinking was that having that extra tail beyond the stopper knot would allow you to tie a rolling hitch to the line in order to retrieve it if the stopper was drawn up tight to a clutch and was under load. The reasoning seems valid, and since there are no drawbacks to doing this that I can imagine, we have followed suit. For details on how to tie a rolling hitch, see the beginning of this video: