How-To Tie a Bowline Knot

boat lines and knots

Boater Tip: Remember this knot with a saying – the rabbit comes out of the hole (step 2), around the tree and back into the hole (step 3). 


1. Lay the line (rope) across your left hand with the free end hanging down. Form a small loop in the line in your hand & leave enough room for the desired loop size.

2. Pass the end of the line (rope) through the loop from the underside or as if you were making an overhand knot.

3. Wrap the line around the standing line (rope) and back through the small loop.

4. Tighten the knot by pulling on the free end while holding the standing line (rope).

Uses: The Bowline (pronounced Boh-lin) knot is a boating essential and is used to tie a piece of line securely around an object. It can withstand an immense amount of pressure, but is still very easy to untie. Some everyday boating examples include:

  • Tying up to a piling, which is a post driven into the ground below the waterline to support a pier or dock. (see example below)
  • Tying a line to a fender, which is the round cushion used to protect the sides of a boat. (see example below)
  • In sailing, commonly used to attach a line (rope) to the head of a sail.