Boat Shoe Knot

Boat Shoe Knot diagram

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.

Step 1:

Fold right (yellow) end into a “loop”

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.

Step 2:

Wrap right (yellow) end around itself

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).

Step 3:

Continue wrapping tightly around

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

Step 4:

Completed shoelace “coil”

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.

Step 5:

Feed loose end through top of loop

Feed the end of the shoelace through the top of the loop.

Step 6:

Pull “coil” upwards to lock end

Pull the whole “coil” upwards, which will tightly pinch the top of the loop and secure the loose end.

Step 7:

Repeat using left (blue) end

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


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Technical Details

Other Names

The Boat Shoe Knot is also known as the “Barrell Tassel” or “Eastland Knot”.

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 slightly more security, begin by wrapping the “coils” from the very bottom of the loops (ie. touching the eyelets). The finished knots will then hold the shoes closed to some extent – but nowhere near as securely as a regular shoelace knot. Note that the knots will also stick out from the shoe like antennae rather than dangling loosely.

For maximum security, begin with a permanent Reef Knot, then finish off with Boat Shoe Knots, as shown in the fourth photo above.

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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This page last updated: 02-Sep-2023. Copyright © 2010-2023 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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