From the very start, ropes and knots are practically an essential part of navigation, sailing and other means of travel by water. Even today, ropes and knots are present on all vessels, from the ordinary small canoes to supertankers or war aircraft carriers. Over the centuries, sailing knots have become very specific and adapted to their use for berthing of vessels, sailing, handling cargo and equipment, as well as for decorative purposes.
The following paragraphs will describe several groups of knots and ropes, but there is one that is considered to be “the knot of all knots” for marine or nautical purposes, sometimes even called simply “the sailing knot”- and that one is the bowline. “Can you tie a bowline?” is the first question that serves as a test for new boaters. If you do not know how to tie the basic boating knot, then you will not be regarded as a real sailor. Luckily for you, we have the perfect solution in the form of the basic type and some other types of bowline, which will impress all those sea wolves.
Simply put, bowline is a loop at the end of your rope, which is not tight. It holds very well and safely, and after the use you can untie it without any major problems, even when the rope is wet. Nowadays, in addition to the basic functions of the loop, bowline is used in many situations and for many different purposes, so that numerous shapes and versions of this type of knot developed. In some countries, the bowline goes by several names (the same is true for various forms of the bowline), so it might happen that you are familiar with some of them under a different name. Here are some of the most useful forms of bowlines:
Note: We do not intend to describe a step by step process of how to tie each bowline. Look carefully at the photos and follow the rope and you will manage to tie each one of them.
Bowline / Sailing knot
This is the basic form of the bowline. The most common is to make a loop at the end of the rope, which is placed around a bollard when docking your boat at a pier or tying it to another boat. Due to its characteristics, the bowline fastens well, without giving way or and getting tangled, thus its use is virtually limitless. For added safety, sometimes the free end of the rope, which remains within the loop, can be attached to the loop with adhesive tape.
Double bowline is by 70 percent stronger than the regular type. Therefore, it is more secure and need not be secured by sticking the free end of the rope inside the loop to the loop.
This form of the bowline is one of the safest and most reliable knots of its kind. It holds extremely well and can withstand heavy-duty handling and pulling/towing on rugged terrain.
This form of the bowline consists of two loops, and it is used for hoisting or lowering of persons by means of a rope. Each leg goes through a separate loop, but at the same time it is crucial that the person that is being hoisted of descended holds tightly to the rope, or that he or she is fastened in some additional way. Due to the safety of this type of bowline, it is used even by firefighters and a variety of rescue teams
Bowline on the Bight
How to make a loop at the end of a rope that has no free end? Simply create a bowline with a loop, which some call the bowline without an end. The double rope makes it stronger, and in the process of tying it is very important to make two parallel loops of the same length.
If you want to have a bowline at hand whenever you need one, get a meter of rope and practice. Eventually, you will know how to tie any form of the bowline even with your eyes closed, and thus make your first steps in boating.