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How To Rig a Bow Line on a Raft

You need a bow line on your raft or cataraft, and if you’re doing multiday trips you’ll probably also want a stern line. That way, no matter which way you pull the boat into shore, you can easily tie it up.

We offer readymade bow lines of 3/8' polypropylene rope, secured in a bag. The 25' and 50' versions come in a red bag, and the 75' or 100' versions come in a blue bag. Some boaters choose to tie on their own lines and in this video we show you a slick way to do it.

Here we’re using 3/8" Sterling GrabLine Water Rescue Rope. It’s unique in that the yarn is woven so that there’s a raised pattern that creates a great handhold. The rope is threaded through the top D-ring, down through the bottom D-ring and secured with a bowline knot. Next, loop a 2' NRS 1" HD Strap onto the top D-ring, with the buckle at the D-ring.

Starting 5'–6' from the boat, reel the loose rope in with even, compact coils. Now, take the remaining rope, between the coils and the boat, and wrap it around the coils three or four times, about 10" from the top. Next, pass a bight of the rope through the top opening in the coil and back over, securing it.

Thread the strap end through the top of the coil, buckle it and voila, you have a nice, neat bundle of rope! To deploy the rope, simply unbuckle the strap, pop that bight back over the coil and you’ve got a tangle-free bow line.

Brush and other riverside vegetation at popular campsites takes a beating from folks tying off their boats to it. Do the environmentally responsible thing and bring along a sand stake and mallet. You usually won’t have to spool out as much rope and the vegetation will appreciate it.