The bowline is one of the most basic sailing knots and is almost universally used for attaching sheets to sails. It is generally useful in situations where a loop is needed in the end of a rope. It can be tied by itself or around an object.
It is normally the 3rd knot that we teach our scouts (behind the handcuff and square). I have used it extensively camping and in many ways around the house.
The bowline is highly reliable, except with slippery rope. Poor quality nylon rope tends to slip and come apart.
The mnemonic for tying the bowline is:
"The rabbit comes up through the hole, around the tree and back down the hole."
The basic steps are:
- Create a bight in the rope (around an object if desired)
- Create a loop in the standing end of the rope
- Put the working end through the loop
- Bring the working end around the standing end
- Bring the working end back through the loop