TIE KNOTS THE FUN AND EASY WAY
Better to know a knot and not need it, than need a knot and not know it.
Climbing Index Climbing Usage
Alpine Butterfly Bend Alpine Butterfly Loop Blake's Hitch Bowline Chain Sinnet Clove Hitch (Half Hitches) Double Alpine Butterfly Directional Fig 8 Loop Distel Hitch Double Fisherman's Double O'hand Stopper Fig 8 Bend (Join) Fig 8 Double Loop Fig 8 Follow Loop Flat Overhand (EDK) Girth (Strap) Hitch Klemheist Munter Mule One-Handed Bowline Prusik Knot Water Knot Zeppelin Bend
Find a Knot by Name Knot Terminology Knot & Rope Safety Rope Properties Contact
Animation: Bowline Knot Tying
Use the Arrow Keys or hover over the Buttons above. View Video
Bowline Knot TyingForm a small loop leaving enough rope for the desired loop size. Pass the end of the rope through the loop as though making an overhand knot. Continue around the standing end and then back through the small loop.
Bowline Knot Details
Uses: The Bowline (ABOK # 1010, p 186) makes a reasonably secure loop in the end of a piece of rope. It has many uses, e.g., to fasten a mooring line to a ring or a post. Under load, it does not slip or bind. With no load it can be untied easily. Two bowlines can be linked together to join two ropes. Its principal shortcoming is that it cannot be tied, or untied, when there is a load on the standing end. It should therefore be avoided when, for example, a mooring line may have to be released under load.
Comparison: The Bowline and the Water Bowline are linked here for easy comparison.
Name: The name Bowline derives from "bow line". The Bow Line Knot secured the line holding the weather leech of a square sail forward to prevent it being taken aback.
One Handed: The bowline can be tied with one hand - useful if injured, essential if you are using the other hand to hold on to the line or the boat!
Left Handed Bowline: When tied as shown in the animation, the tail lies in the middle of the loop. Passing the end the opposite way round the standing end forms a "Left Handed" bowline (ABOK # 1034 1/2, p 188). The left handed version also performs very satisfactorily but is generally regarded as less reliable then the standard bowline.
Length of Tail End: An intermittent load, e.g., on a mooring line, may cause many knots to slip or loosen. The bowline is relatively tolerant of such stresses. Nevertheless some texts quote a rule of thumb which states that, for safety, the length of loose end should be 12 times the circumference. A half-inch diameter rope would require a tail more than eighteen inches long but this is rarely seen in practice.
Safety Knot: When climbers use a Bowline, they typically pass the tail outside the loop and under the collar to form a Yosemite Tie-off or they fasten the tail with a double overhand knot either to the adjoining loop or to the standing end.
Shakes Undone If Not Loaded: A bowline makes a poor safety knot for a swimmer. When a bowline is unloaded, it can very readily work its way untied - I know, it has happened to me! Fortunately I only lost a scrubbing brush.
Disclaimer: Any activity that involves ropes is potentially hazardous. Lives may be at risk - possibly your own. Considerable attention and effort have been made to ensure that these descriptions are accurate. However, many critical factors cannot be controlled, including: the choice of materials; the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this material.