Please select your home edition
Edition
BandG Zeus3 AUS 728x90

Tie This 'Lifesaving' Bowline in Seconds - the easy way!

by John Jamieson on 2 Jul 2014
BowlineStepsPanel Captain John Jamieson http://www.skippertips.com
It was another perfect November day for frostbiting--until that 25-knot gust struck out of nowhere! With no time to release the mainsheet, I flipped the boat in shallow water, about two hundred yards from shore.

The tiny 14-footer rolled 180 degrees before planting its mast firmly into the muddy bottom of Charleston Harbor. The boat resisted every attempt to right her. As tempting as that lee shore looked, I decided to stick with the boat and wait it out. It turned out to be a good decision.

I pulled myself up onto the boat's whale-belly bottom, wrapped one arm around the centerboard, and waved with the other. Since I was well outside the channel proper, no one saw me. And it was getting colder by the minute. Matter of fact, I was quickly losing feeling in my submerged legs. I prayed that help would arrive soon.

Finally I saw them, riding that glorious white thoroughbred with a flaming-red racing stripe. Aye, with a bone in her teeth she was steaming dead for me! The Coasties had arrived. They came alongside and asked me how I was. 'Hi guys, thanks for stopping by!' was about all I could mutter between blue lips and chattering teeth.

They tossed me a hawser and I dove beneath the hull. Of course, there could only be one knot to tie around the boat's mud-sucking spar: the bowline. They hauled me aboard and stowed me down in the warmth of the cabin to thaw. Gazing through the porthole, I saw the coxswain take a strain, and my lovely righted herself. Free at last!

The knot I used, the bowline, is the one I consider the king of knotland. And the bowline shown in the illustration is the fastest and most secure I have used aboard sail and power vessels. Grab a piece of line now and tie along with the steps and illustration below.

Use This 'Knot-Tying' Tip
Take a look at the illustration. Notice how we face the standing part of the line. Bowlines are tied in one of two ways: you will either face the standing part or face away from the standing part. That's a critical point. You can tie a bowline either way, but to tie the bowline as shown, you must face the standing part of the line.

If you are tossed a line, you will face the standing part. Or, if a line comes off a fixed point like a cleat and you need to tie a bowline in the end, you can position yourself to face the standing part. (there are dozens of other ways to tie the Bowline, but I believe this is one of the easiest).

Follow these three steps along with the illustration:

1. Bitter end on top. Start the bowline as shown. Face the standing part. Hold the standing part with your non-dominant hand. With your other hand, loop the bitter end and place it on top of the standing part. Hold it in place with your palm facing down and your thumb underneath, as shown in the first illustration.

2. Twist away. Keep the line held in your non-dominant hand a bit slack (notice in the first illustration, the non-dominant hand allows slack in the standing part). With your other hand, twist your wrist away from you and at the same time, pass the bitter end under the bight to form a small loop (first and second illustration).

3. Loop around and through. Pass the bitter end around the standing part and back down into the small loop. Keep the bitter end 4 to 6 inches long. Work the slack out of the knot to help prevent it from spilling (untying) when shocked.

Practice tying this bowline until you can do so blindfolded--in five seconds or less. If you really want to test yourself and prove you're and 'old salt', tie behind your back.

Sail safer this sailing season on the waters of the world--wherever you choose to sail or cruise!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at Skipper Tips and sign up for his highly popular Sailing Tip of the Week. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, FREE e-Books and much more!
Protector - 660 x 82Sail Exchange 660x82 Used SailsZhik AkzoNobelb 660x82

Related Articles

Twenty-eighth blog from Jon Sanders - He's made it to Noumea
Noumea' New Caledonia a long Island kinda lies south-east to north west. 30 N Miles wide and 220 miles long 'Noumea' New Caledonia a long Island - kinda lies south-east to north west. 30 N Miles wide and 220 miles long, sort of. Plenty of reef. The fringing reef well out with several well posted passages into the Lagoon. Once inside the lagoon one cannot steer a course direct to Noumea, or one would come to a grinding halt. 'Crunch' (Coral reef and Islets). Never the less a small boat paradise....
Posted on 17 Aug
New rules to better protect and enable access to the Whitsundays
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt said it was vital to protect the area’s values The updates to the Whitsunday Plan of Management — an area-specific plan that manages use in this highly visited region in addition to Reef-wide zoning — follows extensive consultation.
Posted on 10 Aug
Keep the water out with Zhik’s new Superthermal Hydrobase
The lower arm and leg of the new Superthermal Hydrobase is made from a water-repellent, stretch woven fabric We’ve all done it - and fished a rope out of the water, pushed the rudder down or stepped down the slipway one foot too far and gained that unwanted wet sleeve or leg.
Posted on 9 Aug
Satori is for sale
This 50ft McConaghy built performance cruiser is effectively a mini Wally. This 50ft McConaghy built performance cruiser is effectively a mini Wally. In-boom furling, self-tacking and hydraulic driven everything through push button controls that really work. You just need to trim your nails before sailing! It really is a boat that you can sail on your own, but nice to have company to show it off!
Posted on 9 Aug
Brisbane Boat Show – 18 days to go
The Brisbane Boat Show opens in less than three weeks, capturing all the Queensland boating lifestyle has to offer. There will be a huge clearance of fishing tackle and show only deals. If you love boats, fishing and water sports you don’t want to miss the Brisbane Boat Show.
Posted on 7 Aug
Knots are great, but beware of limitations
Paul Dyer, technical manager at Marlow Ropes, tests the effects of knots and splices on rope strength. Paul Dyer, technical manager at Marlow Ropes, tests the effects of knots and splices on rope strength. There's a knot for every application and for many applications there is no better solution than a knot. Nonetheless it is important to be aware of the limitations of knots.
Posted on 3 Aug
Twenty-seventh blog from Jon Sanders - More South Pacific trade winds
In my last blog I mentioned running before the trade winds. All the way from South America to Australia. In my last blog I mentioned running before the trade winds. All the way from South America to Australia. i.e. Sailing between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. I cleared Tahiti and headed for New Caledonia. (A sizeable French elongated Island) all in the trade wind belt. And after Noumea 'New Caledonia' to Bundaberg, where rum is made in Australia.
Posted on 31 Jul
Twenty-sixth blog from Jon Sanders - The South Pacific trade winds
First one has to get into them from Panama. Then you have them. First one has to get into them from Panama. Then you have them. Some years your sails might flop along in a light wind. But it is there.
Posted on 27 Jul
She's back! Lisa Blair returns home
Lisa Blair has finished her epic circumnavigation of Antartica. Lisa Blair has finished her epic circumnavigation of Antartica. It has been a massive undertaking in every sense, but the steely determination she is known for has shone through repeatedly, which is what has allowed her to chalk up this one. Despite being in front of record pace before her dismasting on Climate Action Now, the Hick 50 she used for the journey...
Posted on 26 Jul
Ocean Alliance and yachting industry clean up Sydney’s beaches
Take 3, the environment advocacy group collected over 20,000 pieces of plastic and 200 recyclable bottles and cans. Backed by the environment advocacy and education group, Take 3, the group collected over 20,000 pieces of plastic and 200 recyclable bottles and cans.
Posted on 24 Jul