A bowline is used to create a loop in the end of a line. This knot is incredibly useful aboard a boat since it can take a strain, is relatively quick and easy to tie, and is also relatively easy to untie. A bowline can be used to attach a boat to a mooring ball, attach a halyard quickly to a sail, tie up to a dock, or to be linked with another bowline in order to hook two lines together. While a bowline is considered reliable, this knot can work itself loose when it is not under strain and has been known to collapse. For these reasons, a bowline should not be used when safety is a concern. That said, this knot has saved many sticky situations.

This knot is commonly tied using the 'rabbit and the hole' analogy. These instructions will describe how to tie the knot and will use this analogy (colored red) to help you remember. When learning to tie this knot it may be helpful to practice tying around something. As with any knot, tie it with your eyes closed, behind your back, or anyway you can think of to make sure you can tie it quickly under stress.

Things You Will Need

A rope

Step 1


Create a loop in the rope while leaving a long tail. When you look at the loop lying flat, notice that one piece of the rope lies on top of the loop and one lies on the bottom. Make the bunny hole. The piece of rope that is under on the loop is the tree.

Step 2


Bring the bitter end of the line up through the loop. If you are tying this knot around something, pass it through this item before you bring it through the hole. The bunny comes out of the hole.

Step 3


Pass the bitter end around rope that runs under the loop. It is important in this step that you do not pull all the line through. You should leave enough of the rope to form a loop. The bunny goes around the tree.

Step 4


Pass the bitter end back down into the loop. The bunny goes back in the hole.

Step 5

bowline-done Pull the knot tight.

This knot is easy to tie, once you have practiced. Here are some of the most common mistakes.

Passing the 'bunny' around the part of the rope that forms the top part of the loop.

Passing the 'bunny' back out of the hole instead of down into the hole.

Pulling all the rope through the hole and not leaving any rope for the loop.

Tips & Warnings