Friday, May 17, 2013


My blog post of a couple of days ago (about an eye splice) has prompted me to mention the bowline today. The bowline is one of the most versatile of knots -- easy to tie, very secure...and easy to untie.

A Loosely Tied Bowline

To tie a bowline, use the working end (the "active" end of the line) to make a loop (landlubbers can think of this as a rabbit hole). Bring the working end (let's now call that the rabbit) out of his hole, around the back of the standing end (the longer section of the line; we'll call that the tree), and back down the rabbit hole.

Capt. Rob says he can tell you are a seasoned sailor if you can tie a bowline without moving your lips!

The bowline is a great knot to know. It can be used in so many ways. Go ahead...try it.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of our island Post Office. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:49 AM

    Tried it and...done. And mastered--without moving my lips! (Though I must admit I peeked at a youtube video to supplement your directions.)

    Looking at your photo while trying to tie the knot, I wondered whether you're left-handed, since your knot seemed the reverse image of what I was trying. Regardless, the bowline is a knot that has escaped me ever since my boys were little and I tried to help them learn it in Cub Scouts. But now, thank's to your nudge, it is mine--finally. Evokes the old adage about "teaching a man to fish."

    Great post, Philip. Always something worthwhile and engaging here at the Ocracoke Island Journal. Thanks!

    1. Congratulations!

      I am right-handed. After I make the first loop, I hold it together with the fingers and thumb of my left hand. Then I thread the working end through the loop and around the standing end with my right hand.

      I'm glad you enjoy the Journal.