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Can you tie a bowline

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  • Can you tie a bowline

    Recently F+S had a pretty good article on knots, and they started off with the bowline, which I liked. I think knowledge of knots used to be more common.

    Granted, my most commonly used knot is probably a double half hitch, as it is the simplest, fastest, and it works for most things where you just want to tie something off. With a bend to make the second hitch a slip knot often too. When I'm putting a rope or often a long tie down strap under weight though, I use the bowline because it always can be quickly untied. I don't like tying knots in flat rope like tie down straps but often it's the one rope I always have around.

  • #2
    Lead rope on my horses was always bowline over the ears with lead through the halter. I preferred nylon or poly braided rope over help. Poly braided looked and held knots like hemp and didn't unravel like nylon. Nylon also had a tendency to bind up if it got wet.

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    • #3
      I will quickly admit that I am very lax on my knowledge of knots. But the knot that serves me well for my purposes, is the old reliable square knot which is slip proof and which can be easily undone. It does have one drawback however, in that if not tied correctly, it becomes a ‘granny’ knot which can be a dangerous situation !

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post
        Lead rope on my horses was always bowline over the ears with lead through the halter. I preferred nylon or poly braided rope over help. Poly braided looked and held knots like hemp and didn't unravel like nylon. Nylon also had a tendency to bind up if it got wet.
        Nylon needs to have it's ends fused and is by far the best of the ones you mentioned. One nice thing about poly is if you have the proper size fid you can easily make a loop.

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        • #5
          I didn't realize I was interested in "knots" and "splicing" rope until working heavy construction (1970-1972).
          Between tag lines, securing loads and back splicing, I learned alot.

          Had a old tug boat deck hand teach me to "throw" a bowline knot.
          I even videoed it and posted it on here long ago.

          For just overall, general use, I prefer grass rope. It handles easier, has some "spine", splices easily and holds knots very well.
          Unfortunately,
          1) quality grass rope is hard to locate
          2) quality grass rope is expensive
          3) even the best grass rope doesn't stand up to the elements like today's synthetics

          Synthetics can't be spliced, unless it's the hollow, polyethylene variety. Standing ends have to be "fused".
          Synthetic tensile strength is amazing.

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          • #6
            I learned knots and knot tying in the scouts. Was very accomplished and quite proud of my ability. Sadly, tying knots is not like riding a bike and my ability today would bring dishonor to my scoutmaster and my troop. Some I tie I can't even remember their names. Sadness.

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            • #7
              Like Dewman I learned knots in Boy Scouts. Bowline, square, sheep shank, clove hitch, half hitch, and taut line hitch cover most everything I do. These days ratchet straps and bungee cords have replaced rope for most people.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
                Like Dewman I learned knots in Boy Scouts. Bowline, square, sheep shank, clove hitch, half hitch, and taut line hitch cover most everything I do. These days ratchet straps and bungee cords have replaced rope for most people.
                Your ‘ratchet straps’ comment fitch is an excellent point. In that regards, I am surprised the word ‘knot’ has not been taken out of use. How in the world did we ever manage to get along before them, but then I guess that obligated the need for the word ‘knots’ ...........💤💤😴 !

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post

                  Nylon needs to have it's ends fused and is by far the best of the ones you mentioned. One nice thing about poly is if you have the proper size fid you can easily make a loop.
                  The only way to properly "fuse" braided nylon that will last through any significant use is to back-braid it. This requires melting the tips of the three strands first but it's still a pain in the arse because the stuff unravels so easily and is so slick. Keeps wanting to come undone while I'm trying to braid it. Braiding/splicing rope is something of a lost art, unfortunately. The best way to make a loop is splicing. This avoids a bulky knot. The lead rope for my pack horse that I used when on the trail was very thick hemp taken from a huge spool at the former warehouse of the dam where my dad worked. The warehouse had been transferred to Forest Service and I was packer for them. Near as we could figure the very thick rope was used during the construction of the dam 1949-52. It had been gathering dust for decades. I spliced a loop because the rope was simply too large to knot. Its thickness was exactly what I wanted however. On the trail I could simply position the lead end of rope over my riding saddle horn and hold it between my leg and the pommel. That way both hands were always free to work the reins and the rope could still be released quickly in an emergency. The loop end was large enough to fit over the horse's head and lead end went through the halter. All my ropes for whatever use have small loops spliced into one end.

                  Unless one is towing a car, I don't see the need for nylon braided rope. It's more expensive than braided poly (which is almost as strong), won't hold a knot well when its dry, and binds up when it gets wet. As a horse packer I worked with rope and knots a LOT. Sadly, it is getting hard to find good braided poly (not the ski rope crap). The stuff I used was brown and resembled hemp rope. Nylon is somewhat better for boats because poly breaks down quicker in extended sunlight.
                  Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 10-05-2019, 12:41 PM.

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                  • #10
                    The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree and then goes back into the hole.
                    Voila! A bowline knot!

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                    • #11
                      If someone throws you a rope to haul your weight up out of a predicament, the bowline knot is the way to go.
                      Just tie it with your torso in the loop.
                      It won't slip and crush you as it tightens because it holds its shape.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 99explorer View Post
                        If someone throws you a rope to haul your weight up out of a predicament, the bowline knot is the way to go.
                        Just tie it with your torso in the loop.
                        It won't slip and crush you as it tightens because it holds its shape.
                        Not "just" a bowline, a "double bowline".

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                        • #13
                          "... The only way to properly "fuse" braided nylon that will last through any significant use is to back-braid it. ..."

                          Look Honk, I'm not trying to start anything, but the only way to "fuse" braided nylon rope is melt it.
                          "Strand" rope can also be melted and fused.
                          "Strand" rope CAN be back spliced, but you're right. The second you cut the rope it becomes almost totally unmanageable. Strand rope requires the tension of the "whole" to maintain its integrity. I always taped up the ends with masking tape, but it never makes as clean and pretty a splice as grass (hemp?) rope.
                          Cotton rope is just as bad AND it can't be "fused".

                          You can always "whip" nylon and cotton, but if it ever comes loose, you're right back where you started.

                          It's best to just "fuse" synthetic ropes.
                          Back splice grass.
                          Cotton rope, bless it's non stretch heart, a big old nasty knot is about the only answer.

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                          • #14
                            Eye splice is stronger than a knot also, rope tends to cut itself less. I helped put an eye splice in a 3" cable one time when working on an anchor boat for semi submersibles in the gulf. It went just like with a rope except cut with a torch and pried apart with bars.

                            About getting pulled out of a situation by tying the bowline around yourself. It's good if you aren't suspended long, but a rope around the chest and before soon you're out of breath. Climbers in the days before sit harnesses used this thing called a bowline on a coil, which allows the knot to be wrapped tight around the waist. Before my time, there's a reason climbers switched to harnesses.

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                            • #15
                              In my early twenties I went to a week-long canoeing and water-rescue course and there was plenty on knots, the bowline being the first we were taught, being originally a nautical knot. Actually, most knots were probably invented on ships, come to think of it. For those who aren't canoeists or boaters, the beauty of the bowline is that it won't come undone but still affords some give-and-take when you tie off your boat, so its motion on waves or current won't over-strain the line or knot.

                              I learned other hitches and knots from a variety of books I read in my teen years, among them Skills for Taming the Wilds and The Master Backwoodsman by Bradford Angier. He was quite a windbag with the language but always had good information. Or at least interesting information: Does anyone want to cook venison in a puddle of water by dropping in fire-heated rocks? If so, Angier's your guy.

                              Anyway, his books always seemed to have the most helpful drawings of knots and how to tie them. Some guide-books I've seen have diagrams and illustrations that are no help at all.

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