Tugboat bowlines, fisherman's knots, sheet bends. The best knots are named for their jobs on the ocean, but they have numerous, practical uses on land as well. Here's how to tie the versatile bowline (and more properly tie any knot).
There are dozens of knots with hundreds of uses. Tied properly and with suitable material, they are extremely reliable — the very reason that sailors have been relying on tried and true methods of knot tying for centuries.
Sailors, rock climbers, boy scouts — anyone schooled in the practical art of knot tying — will tell you that tying a knot is one thing, but tying it properly is another. You can improve your knots by dressing them properly and, of course, with practice.
Photo by MShades.
When a knot is properly dressed, it means that each part of the knot is in the right place with the correct tension. The rope doesn't cross itself unnecessarily, and nothing is more slack or taut than it should be. Knots that are improperly dressed can lead to excessive stress and rubbing on the knots, which will gradually weaken the rope and, eventually, cause the knot to fail.
The above is a properly dressed knot. Note the adjacent rope in each part of the knot; there are no unnecessary crossovers or tangles. What this really boils down to is practice and patience - take care to keep your knots neat as you're tying them, fixing as you go as well as when you set or tighten your knot.
The bowline (pronounced "boh-lin", pictured at top) is a knot that's used to form a fix loop on the end of a rope. In sailing, it's commonly used to attach a a line to the head of a sail or has other objects passed through it. Even if you don't know more knots than how to tie your shoelace, learntosail of Hubpages.com has a quick lesson on how to tie this useful knot. According to learntosail:
There are over 200 different types of bowline knots out there. But few are more secure or faster to tie than the one used in this sailing story.
You can tie the quick-tie bowline blindfolded, in the dark, behind your back, or underwater. It will hold your boat in a storm and you can tie it around yourself as a safety line.
The bowline has many uses, and with practice, you can tie one in under 10 seconds. Master this knot and you're sure to find uses for it in your everyday hacks. Better yet, check out the previously posted video above on how to quickly tie a bowline.
Practise, Practise, Practise
We're no strangers to a good knot or two, and the best way to make better knots is to practise and expand your knowledge base. From tying up a serial killer to marking your luggage, here are some of our best posts on useful knots and how to tie them.