In knots: Taught line hitch

I’ve been experimenting with various tarp configurations recently and putting a few important knots to effective use. Also known as the midshipman’s hitch (tied slightly differently), the taught line hitch is an adjustable loop knot that’s useful for holding a line under tension. You know those little plastic bits included with modern tents to tension the guy lines? This knot does the same job remarkably well.

Taught line hitch-closeup

This is a good opportunity to describe “turns”. A turn, or a “single turn,” is when the working end of the line is wrapped once around either an object or the standing part of the same line (see Step #2). Notice how it just barely encircles the standing part. A “round turn,” on the other hand, completely encircles the object or standing part of the line (see Step #3). It’s useful to recognize this pattern in knot tying, even when it’s not explicitly called out in the descriptive text.

The knot is completed by passing the working end to the outside of the round turn and forming a half hitch in the opposite direction. Pull the knot tight so that it will grab the working part of the line when you put it under tension. Then slide the hitch to shorten your line and put the configuration under tension, which will help hold it tight.


Taught line hitch-1

Step 1: Hold the working end of the line.

Taught line hitch-2

Step 2: Make a single turn around the standing part of the line

Taught line hitch-3

Step 3: Do another turn around the standard part of the line to complete a round turn

Taught line hitch-4

Step 4: Pass the working end of the line to the outside of the knot. Notice the path the working end takes first over then under.

Taught line hitch-5

Step 5: Form a half hitch with the working end, in the opposite direction of the original turns.

Taught line hitch-6

Step 6: Pull the knot tight

Taught line hitch-7-annotated

Step 7: Slide the knot up the standing part of the line to tighten. Slide it back down to loosen.


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