Officer & Gent

Tying the Bowline Knot

Knots are used everywhere in our life, knowing which knot should be used in which application, is something the Officer & Gent should pride himself on.  Knot tying is an extremely useful and perishable skill that when not practiced, is easily forgotten.

The Bowline:

The bowline is used to make a non-slip loop that will not slip under strain on the end of a rope. It is often called the “king of knots” and it is so dependable that it can be used for rescue work.  The first mention of the bowline knot in history is in John Smith’s A Seaman’s Grammar, published in 1627. He described the knot as being of great importance to sailors.   At that time, a “Bow Line” or Bowline knot referred to a rope on a square-rigged ship that held the edge of a square sail towards the bow and into the wind protecting it from sudden unexpected movements. There is archaeological evidence that shows, however, this knot was in use as early as the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu on his ships (2589–2566 BC).

Uses for a Bowline:

This is my default knot.  I use the bowline more than any other knot.  The primary use of the bowline knot is to form a loop at the end of a line.

  • This knot can be tied, and then secured over objects, such as posts, or tied around the object from the start.
  • Thrown as a water rescue knot
  • Tied around the waist for cliff rescues or in firefighter operations
  • Dummy cording your kit
  • Hitch horses to posts or inside trailers.

Tying a Bowline:

  • Make an overhand loop in the rope at its end.
  • Push the end of the rope up through the loop, around the standing part of the rope and back down through the loop. (a)
  • Tighten. (b)
  • Make an overhand knot at the end to secure the bowline if used for load bearing tasks. (c)

Practice while chanting this famous Scout saying: “The rabbit comes out of the hole, hops around the tree and goes back down the hole.”

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