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New Quick Release Knot ?


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So, after playing with Jed's quick release knot (Steve Maynard's?), I decided to try one for myself. I was a little dissatisfied with Jed's for a couple of reasons: (a) a load on the line also tightened the release loop and made it harder to pull; (B) a significant load also often threatened to pull out the second-to-last bight and snarl the knot.

I started with the idea of a daisy chain, which I got from Jed's/Steve's. But I kept it simpler, essentially starting with the anchor object (biner, deck line, pole) in one "corner" of the daisy chain. After a little experimenting, here's what I came up with...

Start with a simple loop around the anchor object, as if heading for a half-hitch. Leave plenty of free end.


Make a bight through the loop. This is the same move as making a simple half-hitch, but pulling a bight rather than the free end.


Make another bight linked through the first one (like a daisy chain). Note that it's important to do this on the non-load side of the original loop, or it won't work.

In the previous and next shot, you can see how you are essentially daisy-chaining up the non-load side of the loop.


Pull the two bights (the daisy chain) tight by tugging on the last one. Obviously be careful not to pull the free end through the first bight.


Tighten the "half-hitch" by pulling on the load line.


Voila. It releases easily no matter how much load there is, and assuming you snugged the daisy chain well, won't come apart on its own.

Any feedback? I see a couple of potential problems.

Doing it around a large anchor (like my thigh) does not work so well. As the loop tightens under load it pulls the daisy chain out of shape and compromises the release loop. But another link in the chain seems to solve that. I think Jed's version suffers from a similar problem.

Also, it's easy to get confused and do the second bight around the load side of the loop, which makes a non-functional knot. Just keep in mind that the daisy-chain and the slip-loop part of the knot are to be kept separate. But apart from that, I thik this is a bit easier to remember and tie.


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Nice. If I got it right, just around the anchor line or whatever and then one bight and another on the first, snug, done. Except for tugging it taught, it can be done with one hand. Always a good thing.

Ed Lawson

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Oh yes, another idea is to make a bowline quick-release by pulling a bight on the last step (rabbit goes back into the hole) rather than the free end. That seems to hold and release nicely. But even after it's released, there is still a sort of half-hitch in the line that could prevent it from coming totally free of the anchor (like the deck line).


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Interesting variation on Steve's hitch, but with one essential difference: in the original, the free end never goes around the anchor. In yours, it does.

As Jed points out in his article, this means the length of the line never has to pull free through/around/under the anchor. In our case, a deck line would typically pinch the tow line to the deck because the hitch under towing load would be snugged up against aft deck line fixture near the cockpit. In Steve's version, only the bights pass under the anchor with no end to run free.

In your variation, the free end, while it would be short, still has a risk of snarling part of the line and getting jammed under the deckline.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: which in practice is easier to release (your original objection) and which is less prone to jamming.



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Yeah, I noticed that issue in Jed's narrative -- the free end does not go under the deckline in his hitch, but it does in mine. I tried it out a couple of times with a boat hanging on a garage wall, and I couldn't make it jam -- it slid out and came free with perfect ease at all points, including near the fittings. But that boat has fairly loose perimeter lines.

I guess I can imagine the end snagging something else on the deck and getting fouled, but it seems pretty unlikely. The ease of tying in general, and untying under load, I think are more important, but only time and actual use will tell.

Anyway, this whole thing got me interested in knots again, after many years, so I went out and got a couple of books. Ashley is apparently the most comprehensive, and shows my hitch - #395, a slipped half-hitch with a second slipped bight -- a double-slipped half-hitch, as it were. Ashely also shows another one #398 which may be even better, since it has only one slipped bight. ("Slipped" is apparently the technical term for a quick-release type of knot like these, and also for reeving (threading) a bight rather than an end to achieve a slipped knot or hitch.)

I'll be back in a minute with a scan of the even-better knot recommended by Ashley.


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Ok, here are the knots that Ashely recommends, though they both (and all his slip-hitches) do pass around the anchor, that is, under the deck line.


I tried them on a line, and they work quite well. They are pretty easy to tie -- I'm not going to give step-by-step directions, as I think Ashley's diagrams suffice for anyone who's followed things so far. One small downside of these is that they seem to get harder to spill (the technical term for release) under load.

You can see the whole page of slip hitches from Ashely, with commentary, at...


(I'm not embedding it, since it's 400K and would slow down folks with dial-up connections.)

My invention seems to be exactly the same as #395. Oh, well... so much for fame and fortune... no Lewis Hitch!


The one by Jed and Steve Maynard does not seem to appear in Ashely. But it's on the web in a number of places as The Highwayman's Hitch. However -- it's the two-bight version, load-side then release-side, rather than 3-bights (release-, load-, release-side) that Jed shows. Here's one...


Happy slipping!


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I don't know if anyone is paying attention to this thread, but I have a question.

Would it make sense to attach a short tow line to a carabiner with a quick-release hitch, rather than straight to the deck line? Then you'd get the best of both worlds...

[ul][li]quick attach/detach to the deck line using the biner in non-emergency situations, where you want to hang on to the line, for example to switch it to another spot on your deck lines when not in use.

[li]very quick release in case of an emergency, using the slip-hitch on the biner.



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I'm paying attention.

I haven't got out my line and tried this knot yet. Do you think the knot will stay tied well when not under a load and flopping around on your deck (assuming you keep this short tow on your fore deck), or is it possible that it will get loose and need attention prior to hooking up?

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Good question.

There are several quick-release hitches here ;-))). I assume you mean the double-slipped half-hitch that I "discovered" but is already in Ashely.

Of all the slip hitches here, I think that one is the most susceptible to coming loose on its own. That's because the slip part (the double-daisy-chain) is independent of the hitch part (the half hitch) and must be tightened seperately. If you don't do that well, you may mistakenly think you have a good tight hitch as the half-hitch pulls tight under load. Of course, that's the advantage as well -- the release part doesn't tighten under load and so is easier to release then.

I'm tending to favor #397 or #398 from Ashely, since they both require just one slipped bight. But if somebody can convince me that there is a real advantage to not having the free end loop under the deck line, then the Highwayman's Hitch is the clear winner. The problem there is that Jed's version requires three slipped bights, so is a bit cumbersome to tie. The standard version only uses two, but it may not hold up as well under significant load. Also, I find both are quite hard to spill (untie -- getting into the lingo ;-) under heavy load.

I may try several of them when I get back to towing practice. For now I'm having fun fiddling with these and others at my desk. (How to play mariner when not actually on the water?).


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