King of Knots

Use a bowline to tie the end of a rope around an anchor point if you have alternating tension.

[ First, form a loop ] Or, use a bowline to form a fixed loop in the end of a rope.

These illustrations show how to make a fixed loop bowline.

Begin tying a bowline by forming a loop.

The Bowline is a good choice for tying to objects and animals when reliability is important.

It's the only safe knot to use if you are tying a rope around the neck of a horse.

[ Bring bitter end through loop ]

Use a bowline to fasten a painter to a boat or to tie sheets and halyards to sails or temporarily connect a rode to an anchor, or even to tie to a person in a rescue situation.

The principal advantages of this knot are that with most materials it will not slip, and you can untie it after it's been exposed to a load.

The disadvantage, however, is that you cannot tie or untie it when there is a load upon the rope.

[ Pass bitter end behind standing end ]


This knot is useful in so many different situations that you should practice tying it.

[ Bring bitter end back down through loop ]

Origin of the Bowline

Like most knots, the bowlin's origins were on board the full-rigged sailing ships where it was used almost to the exclusion of all other loop knots, and where it was said that "the devil himself would make a good sailor, if he could only tie a bowline and look aloft."

Bowline Poem

Lay the bight to make a hole
Then under the back and around the pole
Over the top and thru the eye
Cinch it tight and let it lie

[ Bowline almost tight ]

Tighten it up.

Note that a bowline can slip slightly and it should always be finished off with two half hitches when it is tied to a person.

Bowline Chant