Proper Use of the
Horn Cleat

Whenever you walk along a dock, look at the multitude of methods people use to tie-up. Some lines hooked to horn cleats look like they would release in the lightest breeze, while others look like it will take the owners 20 minutes to get underway. Some horn cleats have a hole in the middle and you will see where people have passed an eye splice through the hole and then put the eye around the cleat's horns. This is secure and "neat," but if there is a strong off-shore breeze, plan on leaving that line at the dock. When tieing up to horn cleats, the line should:

By simply going once around the cleat, you have control of the boat in all but the most severe conditions, and with one cross-over plus one half hitch, you have all the friction needed to hold the line on the cleat.

To tie up to a horn cleat:
  • Take the line one full turn around the cleat. For optimum security, the line should pass in front of the cleat at a 30 to 45-degree angle.
  • Once you have one complete turn, you are in control. To bring the boat in to you, LIFT UP on the part of the line between the cleat and the boat -- this leverage can move some large boats and works far better than trying to pull the boat into the dock.
  • Next, pass the line accross and over the top of the cleat.
  • Pass the line and under the horn.
  • Make a second cross over the top, and finish with a single half hitch.
    Be sure the half hitch is run in the correct direction so that the bitter end is along side the first cross-over. The friction between these two part of the line provides the security.
  • Tighten it up.

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