This knot's name dates back to at least 1783 when it was used by M. Lescallier in Vocabulaire des Termes de Marine. Its origins prior to that are not known with certainty. There are several possible explanations for the name "Carrick" being associated with this bend. The Elizabethan era plasterwork of Ormonde Castle in Carrick-on-Suir shows numerous Carrick bends molded in relief. Or the name may come from Carrick Roads — a large natural anchorage by Falmouth in Cornwall, England. The name may also have been derived from the Carrack, a medieval type of ship.
Unfortunately, with so many permutations, the Carrick bend is prone to being tied incorrectly.
In the interest of making the Carrick bend easier to untie, especially when tied in extremely large rope, the ends may be seized to prevent the knot from collapsing when load is applied. This practice also keeps the knot's profile flatter and can ease its passage over capstans or winches.
The ends are traditionally seized to their standing part using a round seizing. For expediency, a series of double constrictor knots, drawn very tight, may also be used. When seizing the Carrick bend, both ends must be secured to their standing parts or the bend will slip.
In the decorative variation, both standing ends enter from one side and both working ends exit from the other. In this configuration the knot is known as the Josephine knot (macrame) or double coin knot (Chinese knotting). This form of the Carrick bend is found depicted in heraldry, sometimes with the tails of heraldic serpents woven (or "nowed") into this knot. In heraldry the knot is associated with Hereward the Wake and is known under the name "Wake knot".
The knot can be tied using doubled lines for an even flatter, more elaborate appearance.
The fully interwoven diagonal Carrick bend is the most secure variation. All other forms are inferior and not recommended as bends.
Although the Carrick bend has a reputation for strength, some tests have shown it to be as weak as 65% efficiency.