How to Tie a Bowline

Knowing how to Tie a Bowline, the right way, is one of the fundamental sailing skills we should all know.

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This method of tying a bowline definitely beats all others and will help you look great on the quayside.

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What do you use a bowline for?

Bowline – one of the ‘Big Five’ Sailing knots you should know:

  • Bowline
  • Round-turn and 2 half hitches
  • Sheet Bend (including the double)
  • Clove hitch
  • Stopper knot (2 to choose from)

The bowline is used to form a secure loop in the end of a line.

Using the bowline

When and Why you should use this knot

The bowline’s advantage is it’s ability to be untied, even after being under extreme pressure (there are limits – although I have not come across them yet) you simply ‘break the back of the knot’ and it becomes easy to untie.

A bowline should be used to secure a line (often attached to a boat) to an open position, for instance, over the top of a cleat or a bollard.

A bowline should not be used to secure a line to a ‘closed position’ (see round-turn-and-two-half-hitches) like a ring. This is because the knot cannot be untied under pressure, only once it has been under pressure. The majority of the time, there would be no penalty for tieing to a closed position, until, that is, the other end becomes jammed, and you will have to cut the line releasing any strain in an uncontrolled way. A round turn and two half-hitches, will allow a control untying whist underpressure.


Why this method?

We think that this method of how to tie a bowline beats all others. The “figure 6” method is too ‘fragile’. If you are going to learn how to tie a bowline, we recommend you use this method from the start, this way you can deal with tying the knot, even when it is under pressure – and even one handed. and has these advantages.We think this method of tying a bowline has several advantages over the other figure 6 – followed by the rabbit up the hole. In this version, the rabbit starts up and out of the hole.

  • Can be retained using muscle memory.
  • Can be tied without looking.
  • Can be tied whilst the line is under pressure.
  • Can be ties one handed.

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