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The single most important sailing knot to learn, the bowline


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What is the issue?
Sailing is a world of knots, bends, hitches, loops etc each specifically targeted at roles. However there are too many to learn, unless you take pleasure in the art, and for a starter trying to get to grips with rope handling can be daunting.

Why address this?
Having the ability to belay a line in a completely reliable yet easy to undo fashion is a critical sailing skill, if not one for life.

How to address this?
Learn the bowline or ‘standing bowline’ as presented in figure 1 to 4. This single multipurpose knot is versatile and reliable enough to deal with most any circumstance. It virtually is the only knot that you need to know.

The bowline is perhaps the best knot in the world. It is the firm favourite of sailors, climbers and scouts and can be applied to almost any purpose. Although perplexing at first, the knot can be made quickly and automatically once you have acquired the knack. Once made it is secure but can be very easily undone. It is also technically superior to other knots as it imposes less strain on the rope. A bowline reduces rope strength by 42%, compared to the 50% for a sheet bend or 55% for a reef knot.

The bowline was the number one knot for our circumnavigation. Having the ability to create a totally secure knot in seconds is very reassuring. I completely recommend investing the time it takes to get confident with this knot.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession









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