• All of them should be but you ought to at least know a reef and bowline. Bowline on a bight even better. You can get by with these two for most tasks but not all.
  • I agree with Scubabob about the bowline, first and foremost, but the reef knot is pretty highly overrated these days. It's too easy to capsize if not cinched tight, and too easy to seize completely if it is. For joining the ends of two lines of equal diameter and material (and when they're not polypropylene or other highly 'slippery' materials, and don't have to run through blocks, of course), I like a Zeppelin hitch. It's not hard to tie, is pretty elegant and easy to untie -- and it won't capsize like a square (reef) knot can. But you need a lot more knots than two! You should know clove hitches and timber hitches, sheet bends, half hitches, anchor hitches, fisherman's bend ... a list of knots that I don't even want to start writing now.
  • 1. the bowline... 2. the half hitch. The first can always be undone, no matter how much pressure is applied... and the second is the fastest for securing all sorts of line to railing or shrouds...even one handed.

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