The Bowline

The Bowline (BOH'-LIN) is considered the boaters' prime knot. It is used to make a fixed-size loop in a line. The bowline is used to tie sheets and halyards (control lines) to sails, to temporarily tie a rode (anchorline) to an anchor, or, using one knot on each line, tie together 2 lines of different diameters. Two bowlines tied close together can be used to make an emergency bowswain's chair to go up the mast or bring an injured person aboard.

The benefits of the bowline are in its loop that will not slip, and in its ability to be untied after being exposed to a strain.

To tie a bowline:
  • Begin with a small overhand loop (the loop goes over the standing part - attached or long end of the line.) Be sure to leave enough in the bitter end (free end) to form the loop.
  • Form the loop of desired size.
  • Pass the bitter end up through the small loop, around the standing part, and back through the small loop, this time going down.
  • Tighten it up.
  • You know you have it correct when the bitter end is in the inside of the loop.

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