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How to Tie Boat Shoes?

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

How to tie boat shoes

4 Methods to Tie Boat Shoes

  • Barrel Knot
  • Chain Knot
  • Fish Tail Knot
  • Tassel Knot

Getting on a boat for the first time, you may find yourself in a slippery situation. It’s often that the painted surface of decks may prove too slippery for regular footwear to ensure safe traction.

To avoid the danger of possibly falling overboard, non-slip footwear is a must. And there is none better than boat shoes to do the job. Making sure that your feet are placed securely on deck ensures safety on a boat.

However, boat shoes have a reputation of being difficult to tie. So, we made this short guide on how to tie boat shoes.

What Do You Need to Get Started?

  • Boat shoes
  • Leather laces
  • Patience
  • Boat Shoe Lacing Kit (only for relacing)

How to Tie?


Barrel Knot

  • Make a loop with one lace. Hold the loop together with one hand; twist the loop with your other hand a couple of times.
  • Wrap the rest of the lace around the loop. Do this 5 times, beginning from the bottom going up. Make sure not to overlap.
  • Thread the tip of the lace into the loop. Pull the lace while pushing down on the knot to tighten and secure it in place.
  • Tie the other lace as well using the same procedure above. Trim any excess lace if necessary.

Chain Knot

  • Make a loop with one lace, and make sure that the lace is making the loop by crossing in front.
  • Make a second loop on the same lace and push it into the first one from behind. Pull the second loop to tighten. Repeat until you’ve made a total of 4 to 5 loops depending on the length of the lace.
  • Thread the tip of the lace into the final loop and tighten.
  • Proceed to do the same steps above with the second lace.
  • Tuck each lace into the other.

Fish Tail Knot

  • Thread the laces through the eyelets vertically. You will be left with your left and right laces parallel to each other.
  • Cross the laces with one another and insert each lace into the loop between the eyelets on their opposite side. Insert from the outside and the laces should meet at the center.
  • Cross the laces again and repeat the process in step two. Do this two more times for a total of three loops.
  • Cut any excess length. Leave just enough to be able to tuck the ends of the lace underneath the braid.

Tassel Knot

  • Take your laces and place one over the other, left lace over right, then bring the left lace under and over the cross. Tighten.
  • Repeat the first step but this time right lace over left and tighten. With this, you make a square knot.
  • Take one lace and make a loop, take the rest of the lace and wrap it around the loop 3 times. Insert the end of the lace into the loop and tighten it. Pull the knot toward the tip of the lace.
  • Repeat step 3 with the other lace and you’re done.

How to Re-lace

  • Taper the end of your shoelace, and insert that end into the needle.
  • Begin at the bottom eyelet near the front of the shoe, through the inside; go through each eyelet and make your way to the back. Continue until reaching the frontmost bottom eyelet of the other side.
  • Remove the needle, then thread the lace into the frontmost eyelet above, do this for both sides.
  • Cross the laces and thread them into eyelets on opposite sides.

Why Wear Boat Shoes?


Boat shoes or deck shoes are footwear that is specialized for use on a boat. With rubber soles that have specific patterns that ensure good traction, this footwear ensures safe movement on a deck even when on a wet surface.

These shoes are made of leather or canvas, which makes them resistant to water, thus making them workable on a boat. This is also why boat shoes aren’t meant to be worn with socks.

Boat shoes are also designed to have a tight fit, and this contributes to having stability while on a boat deck. Many of the considerations that came into designing boat shoes are geared toward making them the ideal footwear for use on a boat, especially since they were designed with sailing in mind.

To create a tight fit, boat shoes usually have laces that run through the sides of the shoes, in addition to them running through eyelets. This allows boat shoes to be stable and secure even on slippery surfaces.

Are Boat Shoes Difficult?

The answer is yes, in more ways than one. The shoe itself is made of leather, which makes it difficult to wear because of issues such as comfortability. But it’s not that they’re always uncomfortable, they just need some time to break in.

Other than that, shoelaces are made of leather. If you were to tie leather shoelaces the same way you do regular shoes, they would come undone and would be dangerous to wear on a boat.

This is why boat shoes have a reputation of being difficult to tie. However, there are some very specific ways of tying leather shoelaces, and that’s exactly what we’re covering here.

You should remember though, boat shoes offer a very specialized set of characteristics that make them irreplaceable boat wear. It won’t hurt to have to learn to use them since they work very well.


There we have the basic ways to tie boat shoes. I find the Barrel Knot to be the easiest. However, it wouldn’t hurt to learn the others, if at least to see which works best for you.

As for my favorite, it would have to be the Fish Tail. It looks both functional and stylish. I hope you found one to your liking as well.

And that’s it for our short guide to tying boat shoes. It might take a bit of work, but it should be smooth sailing after learning the proper way to do this task.

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