Tying a bowline with One Hand

Reference: The Rigger's Apprentice, by Brion Toss, page 65


I'm a lefty, so I'm going to tie this using my left hand. In Brion Toss' book, he calls it a slip bowline. It's very convenient for tying a bowline through a grommet, or around a piling, because all the work is done with one hand.

Please ignore my right hand.... imagine that I'm using my right hand to hold onto the boat and that the bitter (short) end is around a piling or through a grommet.

Above: I wrap the standing (long) end around my wrist, forming a loop.
Above: I drop my hand and grab the standing (long) end of the rope. I'm careful to not pull the loop too tight.
Above: Another view of the loop around my wrist, after I've grabbed ahold the standing (long) end.
Above: I hold onto the standing end with my fingers, then I turn my hand so the fingers are pointing down. I let let the loop on my wrist slip down over my hand as I continue to hold onto the standing end. As you'll see in the next photo, this forms a loose slip knot.

Above: I hold onto the slip knot.

The next step is the only tricky part. Stop here a moment and notice which side of the loop is facing up, compared to which side is down ( or which side is facing towards the centerline compared to the outside of your body).

(note: in this photo, I've pulled the slip knot a little too tight. Leave it as loose as possible so that it "collapses" easily later on in step __)

Next, I have twisted the loop one-half turn counter-clockwise (looking at it from the with the loop, towards the standing and bitter ends), compared to how I was holding it before. The side that was facing up is now facing down (or, in other words, the side that was facing to the centerline is now turned to the outside).

I did it by stucking my thumb through the loop, rotating my my hand so my thuimb is pointing up

If you don't twist the loop a half turn, the "tail" of the bowline ends up on the outside of the knot, rather than the inside of the knot like it should.

(If you make this with your right hand, turn the slip-loop one-half turn clockwise)

Above: I put my fingers up through the loop from the bottom to the top (from outside towards the centerline on my body).

Next, with my fingers through the loop, I will grab ahold of the bitter end with my fingers. (sorry, no picture of this step)

Above: After grabbing ahold of the bitter end, I pull my fingers back out of the slipknot loop, taking the bitter end of the rope with me.

Pull the bitter end completely through the loop.

Above: I grab the standing end of the rope, and pull it gently, to shake the loosely formed knot down over the standing end. This is called "collapsing" the knot. This is when everything falls into place and starts to look like a bowline, After collapsing the knot, I tighten it up by pulling strongly on the standing end.

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