There are two types of knot people: those who use knots and those who hate to. I’ve been a user for 44 years because I’ve been sailing for 44 years. I’ve become very comfortable with the 25 or so knots, whippings, and splices I use on a regular basis. A book on knots has to be something special to get my attention.

Before reading The Knot Handbook, I decided it would have to meet certain criteria: 1. A clear understanding of where I can use the knot; 2. Easy-to-follow instructions; and 3. Ease of finding the knot instructions again (there are 118 knots in the book). Success in meeting these criteria would equal a useful book. You might not agree with my criteria, but as the reviewer I get to set the standards.

I was impressed with the book’s layout. Each knot is classified into one of the following categories: whipping and coiling, stopper knots, loops, binding knots, hitches, bends, and finally plaits, sennits, and lashings. Did I get a clear understanding of where I could use a knot? The answer is yes and no. Author Maria Costantino usually gives a clear description of at least one use. The full-color photo directions of how to tie the knot leave very little doubt as to the knot’s use. I suggest you read the introduction to each category. A clear indication of each knot’s use will be found in this section.

Are the instructions easy to follow? Yes. With just a few exceptions, directions for each knot are contained within the pages. This means you don’t need three hands to learn to tie a knot. Could I find the knot again easily? Yes – if I think in broad categories.

Was the book useful? Yes. Did I find a knot to add to my bag? Yes, actually a couple. Is it a book I would have on my boat? Yes. Actually I would have it just for the introduction, which contains very useful information on ropes. Should you have this book on your boat? That would depend on your current knot skills. If you use fewer than, say, 10 different knots, this book provides simple and easy instructions so you can easily increase your repertoire. I suggest you practice your chosen knots and learn to tie them in the dark. Murphy’s Law says that’s when you’ll need them most.

The Knot Handbook by Maria Costantino (Sterling Publishing Co., 2000 256 pages)