How to tie a bowline

One of the skills a sailor needs to have is to be able to tie a bowline knot. It is the most useful knot because it is strong but is still easy to untie. It can be a challenge to tie for some folks.

I have a story to tell you about that challenge.

I was sailing with a gentleman, a very good sailor with 20+ years of experience, on a boat with a hank-on jib. He brought up the jib and the sheets and even though it was awkward, he passed me the clew of the sail and the two sheets and asked me to tie the bowline. Being a jerk, I said, “What’s the matter, you can’t tie a bowline?” with a little attitude. He was very embarrassed and told me he had been trying to learn for 20 years. His kids all learned in the Scouts and couldn’t teach him; no one could.

I told him that it was unacceptable that a good sailor like himself couldn’t tie a bowline, and I would teach him. I came up with a way to teach my wife who is dyslexic how to tie this knot. The gentleman and I started on a bottle of wine, and an hour later with the wine gone, he could do it. I ran into him a year later, and he said it stuck; he could still tie the knot.

My wife is the hand model in the video: Four Finger Bowline



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