# How Fast Is a Knot? (Knots to MPH Explained!)

The term “knots” may have crossed your path when discussing the speed of boats. Knots are completely different from MPH but it’s the most common unit of measurement when talking about the speed of a boat.

But exactly how fast is a knot? And why do we use knots instead of miles per hour?

Converting knots to mph seems confusing but it’s actually quite straightforward… Let’s break it all down..

## What Is A Knot Exactly?

A knot is essentially the unit of speed recognized in maritime and aerial navigation. When you hear the term knot in this context, it means someone or something is moving at the pace of one nautical mile for every hour that passes.

Now, considering that a nautical mile is not the same as the mile you’re familiar with on land, this can be a bit tricky.

Let’s break it down:

• Nautical Mile: It is a special measurement used specifically for marine and aerial distances. Unlike the usual mile, it’s calculated based on the Earth’s geometry, accommodating for the planet’s curvature.
• Why It’s Used: On the vast ocean or in the sky, there are no roads, signs, or landmarks to measure distance. By using the Earth’s latitude and longitude divisions, navigators can determine location and distance more accurately.

To understand this even better, think of the Earth being divided into 360 slices, similar to cutting up a cake.

Each slice measures 60 nautical miles at the equator. One of these nautical miles is what’s further split into 60 minutes—not the kind you watch tick by on a clock, but rather a portion of distance.

When your speed matches this specific rate of one nautical mile per hour, you’re cruising at what’s termed as ‘1 knot’. It’s a neat, standardized way to convey velocity when you’re sailing the seas or zooming above in an aircraft.

## The Origins of ‘Knot’ as a Measurement of Speed

You might wonder why we use ‘knot’ to describe the speed of a ship or aircraft. This term is steeped in maritime tradition. Back in the 17th century, sailors developed a creative method to measure their vessel’s speed.

They used a tool known as the common log—just a wooden panel attached to a rope with evenly spaced knots.

When they wanted to measure speed, they’d cast this log into the water and let the rope unwind for a specific duration, usually marked by an hourglass.

The number of knots that passed overboard during this time indicated their speed, which reflected the distance traveled in nautical miles.

Now, the term ‘knot’ is widely embraced as a standard for maritime and aerial speeds.

### Knots Throughout History

During the Age of Exploration, knots were crucial for maritime navigation, enabling explorers like Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama to estimate their ships’ speed and calculate distances traveled.

This measurement was achieved using a log line method, where a rope with evenly spaced knots was used in conjunction with an hourglass to determine the number of nautical miles traveled per hour.

The accuracy of this method was vital for mapping new routes, ensuring safe voyages, and contributing to the era’s significant discoveries and cultural exchanges.

As a symbol of human curiosity and exploration, the use of knots played a fundamental role in expanding global understanding and connectivity.

## How Many MPH Is a Knot?

When you’re navigating the seas or skies, your speed can be measured in knots. The conversion is pretty straightforward:

• 1 knot = 1.15 mph (miles per hour)

Essentially, if you’re traveling at a speed of one knot, you’re moving at a pace that would be approximately 1.15 miles per hour on land.

For every knot you increase your speed by, you’re adding roughly 1.15 miles to your hourly distance on land.

## Why Do Modern Ships Use Knots

When you’re at sea, distances and speeds are a different ball game compared to land. Nautical miles and land miles are different and, thus, measured differently. That’s where the term “knots” comes into play, which is equivalent to one nautical mile per hour.

It is the seafaring version of miles per hour. A nautical mile, which is slightly longer than a mile on land, is perfectly suited for maritime navigation since it corresponds to the Earth’s geographical measurements.

• Knots: Speed at sea, 1 knot equals 1 nautical mile per hour
• Nautical Mile: Based on the Earth’s coordinates, 1 nautical mile equals 1 minute of latitude

Embracing knots as a unit of speed became the norm for sailors across the globe by the 20th century, especially after the United States and the United Kingdom standardized the nautical mile in the mid-1900s.

This standardization helped in unifying maritime communication and navigational methods internationally.

## How Fast Do Cruise Ships Go?

Cruise ships typically travel at a speed of around 20 to 25 knots, which is equivalent to about 23.0 to 28.8 miles per hour or 37.0 to 46.3 kilometers per hour.

This speed balances fuel efficiency with passenger comfort, ensuring a smooth journey while maintaining a reasonable travel time between destinations.

Some of the faster cruise ships can reach speeds up to 30 knots (34.5 mph or 55.6 km/h) under ideal conditions.

## Why Airplane Speed Is Quantified Using Knots

When you’re flying, pilots also use knots to measure their airspeed. It’s a practical unit that takes the Earth’s shape into account, ensuring that the distance covered is gauged accurately.

It’s like having a universal language for speed in the skies, which helps maintain uniformity and, most importantly, safety.

Consider this:

• Standardization: Knots foster global consistency across aviation, eliminating potential confusion. Since speed might be discussed in miles or kilometers on the ground, using knots in air reduces mix-ups.
• Familiarity for Passengers: While knots rule the cockpit, you might hear speed in miles per hour for your benefit. It’s simply more relatable for many of us.

## Knots vs. MPH

When you’re zipping along at 1 knot, you’re actually going a bit quicker than if you were moving at 1 mile per hour (MPH).

To put it into perspective, 1 knot exceeds 1 MPH by 15%. This means, in the span of an hour, traveling at 1 knot will carry you 1.15 miles compared to the 1 mile you’d cover going 1 MPH.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

• 1 knot: You’ll cover approximately 1.15 miles in an hour.
• 1 MPH: You’ll travel exactly 1 mile in the same time frame.

And if kilometers per hour (KM/H) are more your speed, 1.15 MPH translates to roughly 1.85 KM/H.

To visualize on a larger scale, say you’re cruising at 30 knots, like many cruise ships. You’re not just traveling 20 miles every hour; you’re actually covering around 34.5 miles within that hour, outpacing the direct conversion of 20 MPH.

### How Fast Is 10 Knots?

Ten knots is approximately equal to 11.5 miles per hour or 18.5 kilometers per hour. This speed is comparable to the average running speed of a domestic pig, which can also run at about 11 miles per hour. It’s slightly faster than the world’s fastest human sprinters, who can run up to 28 miles per hour.

### How Fast Is 15 Knots?

Fifteen knots is about 17.3 miles per hour or 27.8 kilometers per hour. This speed is similar to that of a sprinting domestic rabbit, which can reach speeds up to 18 miles per hour.

### How Fast Is 20 Knots?

20 knots is equivalent to about 23.0 miles per hour or 37.0 kilometers per hour, similar to the top speed of a roadrunner bird.

### How Fast Is 25 Knots?

25 knots equals approximately 28.8 miles per hour or 46.3 kilometers per hour, comparable to the speed of a galloping reindeer.

### How Fast Is 30 Knots?

30 knots is around 34.5 miles per hour or 55.6 kilometers per hour, akin to the sprinting speed of a greyhound dog.

### How Fast Is 35 Knots?

35 knots translates to about 40.3 miles per hour or 64.8 kilometers per hour, similar to the top speed of a charging African elephant.

### How Fast Is 40 Knots?

40 knots is approximately 46.0 miles per hour or 74.1 kilometers per hour, akin to the top speed of a white-tailed deer.

### How Fast Is 50 Knots?

50 knots equals about 57.5 miles per hour or 92.6 kilometers per hour, comparable to the cruising speed of some small single-engine aircraft.

### How Fast Is 60 Knots?

60 knots translates to around 69.0 miles per hour or 111.1 kilometers per hour, similar to the top speed of a cheetah in short bursts.

### How Fast Is 70 Knots?

70 knots is roughly 80.6 miles per hour or 129.7 kilometers per hour, akin to the speed of some of the fastest birds in level flight.

### How Fast Is 100 Knots?

100 knots equals approximately 115.1 miles per hour or 185.2 kilometers per hour, similar to the top speed of a high-speed train.

### How Fast Is 200 Knots?

200 knots is about 230.2 miles per hour or 370.4 kilometers per hour, comparable to the cruising speed of many commercial jet airliners.

### How Fast Is 300 Knots?

300 knots is approximately 345.2 miles per hour or 555.6 kilometers per hour, similar to the cruising speed of some modern fighter jets.

### How Fast Is 400 Knots?

400 knots equals about 460.3 miles per hour or 740.8 kilometers per hour, akin to the maximum speed of some of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft.

### How Fast Is 500 Knots?

500 knots translates to around 575.4 miles per hour or 926.0 kilometers per hour, comparable to the top speed of many commercial supersonic aircraft, like the Concorde.

### How Fast Is 600 Knots?

600 knots is roughly 690.5 miles per hour or 1111.2 kilometers per hour, approaching the speed of sound at sea level, which is about 761 miles per hour or 1225 kilometers per hour.