The bowline knot is useful because it doesn't slip.

How to tie a bowline
Hold the line in your left hand near the end. Make an overhand loop. Take the running end of the line and go through the loop from behind, up and behind and around the standing part and back down through the loop from the front.

In the Boy Scouts, we remembered how to tie this knot with the saying: "The rabbit (the running end of the line) goes out of the hole, around the tree and back down again."

'Bowline' is properly pronounced bowl-in. It should rhyme with rollin', or you will be pegged as a landlubber by sailing folk.

How to tie a bowline:

First make a loop, and bring the running end of the line around under the loop:

            / /
           / /                          
          / /                            
         / /                             
     .------------.                           
    / ------------ \                           
   / / / /        | |                        
   | | | |        | |                      
   | | | |        | |
   | | |  --------  |                                                       
   | |  ------------                      
   | |          -
   | |         | |
   | |         | |
   | |         | |
   | ----------  |
    -------------

Then thread the end up through the loop and around the line:

        ----/ /
       / --/ /\                         
       | |/ /\ \                         
        -/ /  \ \                        
     .---------| |.                           
    / ---------| | \                           
   / / / /     | || |                        
   | | | |     | || |                      
   | | | |     | || |
   | | |  --------  |                                                       
   | |  ------------                      
   | |         | |
   | |         | |
   | |         | |
   | | A       | |
   | ----------  |
    -------------

(The larger loop around "A" is the loop that remains after the knot gets tightened, ie: the thing you are tying the rope to. Most often this is the leech of a sail, because a bowline becomes stronger under extreme tension, yet is relatively easy to untie)

Finally, bring the end back down through the loop:

        ----/ /
       / --/ /\                         
       | |/ /\ \                         
        \ \/  \ \                        
     .---\ \---| |.                           
    / ----\ \--| | \                           
   / / / / | | | || |                        
   | | | | | | | || |                      
   | | | | | | | || |
   | | |  --------  |                                                       
   | |  ------------                      
   | |     | | | |
   | |     | | | |
   | |     | | | |
   | |      -  | |
   | ----------  |
    -------------

Tighten from both ends, and you are done.

If the end is threaded the same way through the loop but around the line in the opposite direction (here right-to-left) this is called a Dutch bowline. Dutch sailors claim that it is stronger when tied this way, but this has never been demonstrated conclusively.

Bow"line (?), n. [Cf. D. boelijn, Icel. boglina, Dan. bovline; properly the line attached to the shoulder or side of the sail. See Bow (of a ship), and Line.] Naut.

A rope fastened near the middle of the leech or perpendicular edge of the square sails, by subordinate ropes, called bridles, and used to keep the weather edge of the sail tight forward, when the ship is closehauled.

Bowline bridles, the ropes by which the bowline is fastened to the leech of the sail. -- Bowline knot. See Illust. under Knot. -- On a bowline, close-hauled or sailing close to the wind; -- said of a ship.

 

© Webster 1913.

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