Three ways to tie a bowline

James CloseJames, Tips & Tricks, YouTube

Hi it’s James! As an instructor at Dream or Two Sailing, I’ve helped many people tie bowlines and everybody has their favourite way of tying them. I had a spare few minutes off the water the other day so put together this short video of me showing you some of the best bowline techniques.

The Bowline is probably one of the most complex knots we tie on yachts, and the initial way of teaching it on the RYA Start Yachting and Competent Crew course is designed to take you through the structure of the knot step by step, but as you get more advanced, being able to tie knots quickly and in awkward situations, maybe even in the dark becomes important.

This video shows you the two other techniques I use, which are much faster. I wouldn’t normally teach them on a course as it would just confuse students even more with information overload! However a YouTube video is an ideal way to show you, so that you can rewind and watch again and again until you can do it.

Keen eyed among you may have noticed the loose tail of the Bowline on the third example sticks out to the outside of the knot. This apparently, is known as the Cowboy Bowline or the Dutch Bowline and is considered inferior to having the tail on the inside as the tail can catch on things and is more exposed to the weather. I have heard from one source that it is also structurally weaker, but I don’t have anything definitive. On the third example you can tie the final part the other way so that the tail goes inside.

I hope this is helpful, you can’t practice knots enough, so get some rope and have a go. There must be many more ways to tie it that I haven’t seen, so if you have any other examples please get in touch and we will share the knowledge. Hopefully this has opened a can of worms about knot theory. Sailing geeks please share your knowledge! It would be great to post your comments and examples on the blog.