How to tie seaman knots

Written by jennifer leigh
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How to tie seaman knots
The bowline knot is used to secure bowlines on boats. (bowline knot image by Rog999 from

There are dozens of seaman's knots; these originate from work done on boats and ships over centuries. Seaman's knots include square knots, clove hitches, figure-8 knots, granny knots, reef knots and many more. These knots have been used for various purposes from securing sails to creating adjustable bowlines. Learning how to tie seaman's knots is a complicated hobby that takes practice, time and a lot of rope. The bowline knot is used to secure bowlines, while the sliding-sheet-bend knot is used when the rope may need to be adjusted.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Hold the end of the rope and form a loop. Form another loop, making two loops at the end of the rope.

  2. 2

    Pull the end through the first loop. Wrap it around the unlooped portion of the rope at the top of the loops.

  3. 3

    Pull the end back down through the first loop from the front. Tighten the end and your bowline knot is complete.

  1. 1

    Wrap the end of the rope around the object to which you intend to fasten it. Create an "S" curve close to the object.

  2. 2

    Pull the short end of the rope under the "S" curve. The rope should remain wrapped around the object.

  3. 3

    Pull the end over the "S" curve. Loop it through the circle that is created in front of the object to which you are fastening the knot.

  4. 4

    Create another "S" curve with the end; stick the end into the loop created by the first "S" curve. Pull on both ends of the rope. You will be pulling on the end that is loose, as well as the loop fastened around the object. Pull the knot tight.

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