Sunday, November 13, 2011

How to Tie a Bowline?

My son Willie can tie a bowline with his feet. Pretty good.

A few years ago I sailed to Bermuda with a very accomplished sailor. (Circumnavigated in his 60 foot schooner when in his 20's, in the 1970's.) I tied a bowline in a jib sheet, and he instantly admonished me: "That's the wrong way." Huh?

 I had tied the knot with the tail on the outside of the loop. see photo at right. Tied "correctly", the tail is on the inside of the loop, see left.
Ashley, whose Book of Knots is the ultimate authority, here shows the knot correctly tied. The bowline ends up "correct" when it is thrown into the line, as shown in Ashley's illustration. (If you don't already know this trick, it's a good one to have.)

There are at least two ways any knot can fail. It can fail under load, and it can trip, or fail to attain the correct configuration before the full load is applied. I don't know if the "correct" bowline is more stable before the load is applied or if it is stronger under load - or neither. Anybody know?

1 comment:

  1. I'd also love to know the answer. Just looking at it, I don't understand how the load can "see" which side the tail is on. Maybe it's just less likely to snag.



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