If you’re only going to learn one knot this season, here it is: The Bowline Knot! The bowline is a very versatile knot. It is used to form a temporary loop in a line which may then be put over a piling or cleat. It can also be used to attach a line to an eye. This knot won’t slip or jam and can be untied easily.

The Bowline Knot gets its name from the fusion of the words bow and line. It has many uses but it was mainly used for securing the weather leech on square sails on large sailing vessels. Today, it’s mainly used as a quick knot for securing a mooring line to a post, or as a way of joining two separate lengths of rope together. It’s often known as the King of Knots!

It’s easy to tie, and when it’s not under load it can easily be untied too. A good bowline knot won’t slip or slide under load. It’s not perfect though; when under load it cannot be tied or untied, which limits its practical usage.

Still, it’s a great knot to know, and every good sailor knows how to tie a Bowline Knot. If you want to learn, here’s how to do it.

How To Tie A Bowline Knot

Grab a length of rope and learn how to tie the King of Knots: the Bowline.

Step 1: Form a small loop on a piece of rope, with enough slack left to tie-off the knot. Pass the end of the rope upwards through the loop.

Step 2: Now feed the end of the rope underneath the standing rope,

Step 3: Pass the end of the rope through the smaller loop.

Step 4: Grasp the end of the rope with the loop, and pull them together.

Step 5: The result is a successful Bowline Knot.

Other Things To Consider

Now that you know how to tie a Bowline Knot, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you employ it, and a couple of ideas about how to use it to better suit your needs.

It Can Easily Come Undone

The Bowline Knot can easily come undone if it’s not under load. If not under proper tension it can easily shake its way loose. Variations of the Bowline, such as the Eskimo Bowline, have slight differences that help it resist shaking loose.

Adding A Safety Knot

Since Bowline Knots can be shaken loose under certain circumstances, it’s a wise idea to add a safety knot to it to prevent any accidents. While it’s not the most essential addition for boating, if you want to use a Bowline Knot for something more dangerous, such as climbing, a safety knot is imperative. You can add a Double Overhand on the standing end or the adjoining loop quit for added knot protection.

Check Your Knot

Again, as Bowline Knots can come undone, it’s always essential to check the quality of your knot, and the safety knot too. If your knot fails, it could lead to injury, loss of property, or worse! Always double check your knots.

Left-Hand Variations

There is a Left-Hand variation of the standard Bowline that many claim is stronger than the regular Bowline. The left-hand version has the end of the rope finishing on the left-hand side of the knot, rather than in the middle of the loop. The result is a knot that has can endure more ring-tension.

One-Handed Knot

It’s a good idea to learn to tie this knot with one hand. It can be done! It’s actually quite easy to tie one-handed once you’ve practiced. This is a very useful skill as it allows you to tie a practical knot if you’re unable to use two hands, such as if you’re injured or need your other hand to hold on to something.

The Bowline Knot: In Summary

The Bowline is an essential knot that every boater should know. It’s easy to make and can be used for a variety of purposes. Since it makes a usable loop at the end of a line or can be passed around an object in the making of the knot, there’s no end to its practical applications. From mooring to rescue, this is a simple knot with a million uses!