How to Tie a Bowline Knot

Learn These Straightforward Steps on How to Tie a Bowline Knot

Bowline knots are versatile and very secure. They're also easy to tie. This article takes you through the steps of tying this knot.
Popular for its security, the bowline knot has a variety of uses. This knot is easy to tie and untie, and has been used since ancient times to form a secure loop at the end of the rope for varied purposes. Although it is considered to be a safe knot, sometimes it tends to get loose and also takes up a lot of the rope in capsizing.

To overcome these problems, there are different secure variations that have been developed over time. For example, 'bowline on a bight' is one of the types that forms fixed-size loops that are more secure and are very unlikely to loosen up, and therefore it's one of the best choices for tying up a climbing harness, say for rock climbing. The other choice is the figure-8 knot.

Referred to as the 'King of the Knots', this is one of the four maritime knots. The other knots include: the figure-8, the clove hitch, and the reef. The bowline resembles the sheet bend, the only difference being that it is tied using a single rope whereas the sheet bend uses two ropes to join and form a knot.

Method of Tying

Step 1: Hold the short end of the rope in one hand, form a little loop (often known as the rabbit hole) by crossing the short end over the long end.

Step 2: Take the long end of the rope out through the loop.

Step 3: Pass the short end of the rope behind the long end, forming a loop, and insert the short end into that loop.

Step 4: Finally, tighten the knot by pulling both ends of the rope in the opposite directions.

Uses

This knot could be used in a variety of ways. Its traditional use is in sailing small crafts and tying a jib sheet to the clew of a jib, or fastening a halyard to the head of the sail. It also is quite useful while camping. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration has recommended the bowline to tie down a light aircraft. It would be particularly useful to those who indulge in adventure or extreme sports.

There are other variations of this knot that include:
  • Water bowline
  • Double bowline
  • Yosemite bowline
  • French bowline
Try to tie one around your waist for practice, and you'll master the art of tying a bowline anywhere. An easy way to remember is:

"Lay the bight to make a hole
Then under the back and around the pole
Over the top and through the eye
Clinch it tight and let it lie"
Nautical rope knots
nautical knot