Boat Shoe Shoelace Knot

Often used on boat shoes (deck shoes) or moccasins with leather laces, the “Heaving Line Knot” creates decorative coils instead of knots. Each end is simply coiled around itself until all remaining lace is consumed. Also known as the “Barrell Tassel” or “Eastland Knot”.

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 1

Step 1:

Unlike almost all other shoelace knots, the “Boat Shoe Knot” does not begin with a Starting Knot. Instead, one end is formed into a “loop” by simply doubling it back onto itself, leaving a fairly long trailing end.

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 2

Step 2:

Wrap the end of the shoelace once around the bottom of the loop. The direction is not important – it can be wrapped either way (around the front or around the back).

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 3

Step 3:

Wrap the end of the shoelace once more around the loop, with the second wrap immediately above the first wrap.

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 4

Step 4:

Continue winding the end around the loop until it reaches the top. Try to wrap very tightly around the loop and snugly against the previous wraps, forming a tight coil of lace.

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 5

Step 5:

Feed the end of the shoelace through the top of the loop. The whole “coil” can then be pulled upwards, which will tightly pinch the top of the loop and secure the loose end.

Boat Shoe Knot diagram 6

Step 6:

Repeat steps (1) through (6) with the left (blue) end, resulting in two separate coils.

Finished Knot

Finished Boat Shoe Knot picture 1

The finished “Boat Shoe Knot” should be two tight “coils”, each dangling freely at the end of a short length of shoelace.

Finished Boat Shoe Knot picture 2

Finished “Boat Shoe Knot” on a pair of typical boat shoes with leather shoelaces.

Finished Boat Shoe Knot picture 3

Close-up detail of the tight coil of leather shoelace. This shows how the small protruding loose end is firmly clamped between the end of the coil and the end of the loop.

Technical Details

Looks versus Security

Note that this knot does not secure the ends, rather, the boat shoe becomes a “slip-on”. This knot is simply a decorative way to consume the excess length of those loose ends. For extra security, begin by tying a permanent Reef Knot, then continue with this knot.

On the other hand, if the coils are wrapped starting at the very bottom of the loops (ie. touching the eyelets), the finished boat shoe knots will actually hold fairly tight, though not as securely as regular knots. Note that the coils will then stick out from the shoe like antennae rather than dangling loosely.

Starting Loop Length

It may take some experimentation to create the correct length starting loop in order to achieve the optimum number of wraps.

If the starting loop is made too long, the trailing end will be too short and the shoelace will run out before reaching the top of the loop. This will result in a tiny coil with very few wraps, which will be sitting at the end of a long lace.

On the other hand, if the starting loop is made too short, there won't be enough room for more than a couple of wraps. This will again result in a tiny coil with very few wraps and with a long trailing end protruding from the top of the knot.

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