The only certainty about how to make fast to a cleat is that there are a number of equally good ways of doing it. In deciding which to use, the questions to ask are:

  • If I secure it like this, will it be impossible for the rope to come off by mistake?
  • Will it also be impossible for the rope to jam up on the cleat?
  • Have I put the turns on in such a way that as I begin to take them off again, the rope can be surged under load if required?

Three ‘yes’ answers, and you’ve got it right. Notice that in the first illustration, care is being taken that the second half of the initial turn on a poorly but typically aligned cleat cannot lock under load against the first half. The second picture shows a neat, safe job in progress with figures of eight going on in a non-jammable way. Picture 3 shows a classic ‘half a turn, two figures-of-eight and a final round turn’ solution. Usually a winner, but if you’re short of rope or the cleat isn’t big enough, have no fear of using a locking hitch as in picture 4. Don’t imagine that these are the only ways, though. They aren’t.