How do you safely hoist a sail? Or securely tie your boat to the dock post? With knots and hitches! Watch our demonstrations and put your sailor skills to the test. 

What is it used for?

The bowline was traditionally used to prevent square sail from being ‘taken aback’.

This means stopping the sail from accidentally going backwards, in the direction of the masts, by holding the edge of the square sail towards the bow (front) of the ship and into the wind.

The bowline is a strong and secure general purpose knot, which doesn’t jam under load and is easy to tie and untie.

What could you use it for?

The bowline is a go-to knot if you need secure the end of a line around something (for example a tree or a pole), or if you need to save someone from sinking!

Can you make a den or a tent using the bowline?


You will need:

a collections of different types of rope and string

Any kind of rope (shoelaces, string, skipping rope)

Step 1

Lay the rope down in front of you and form a small loop close to a free end. 

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Step 2

Take the free end and pass through the loop from the underside. You should be left with two loops: the original loop which should be smaller, and the second larger loop created in this step. 

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Step 3

Wrap the free end around the back of the standing line.

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Step 4

Push the free end back down the original, smaller loop.

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Step 5

You need to make sure that your knot is well-dressed. This means that the knot is pulled tightly and arranged in a way that improves the knot's performance. And you are done! 

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Well done! See if you can learn some of the other knots on our website.