proper way to tie on painters

I want to put on painters on my new canoe and am wondering if there is a correct and proper way to do this - or do I just do it? Bowline knot?

I like to make a template
using a piece of paper. First, make an arbitrary center line on the paper, then measure equal distances from the centerline. Then, mark a hole for the size rope you are going to use. Tape it on and drill the holes.

I’ve also used a small piece of PVC pipe. Mark the holes the same way but drill them big enough to slip a piece of pipe in. Use silicone sealant to keep the pipe in place and thread the rope through the pipe.


I just tie mine on using a bowline. I am not willing/brave enough to drill painter holes in my hull (as described in the previous reply). Of course, most of my paddling is in flat water or relatively mild running water (so lining or pinned rescue type stuff is unlikely to become necessary).

just do it
There is no single generally accepted method. Anything that stays tied is fine.

CanoesWithDuckheads is the only person I know who just lays the rope daintily over the front carry handle. He says it keeps the boat from pulling him into the water when it floats off down the stream LOL

is the correct knot, hence the name…

Of course! Stupid me…

It’s a good question

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 3:04 PM EST –

A double overhand knot, while it may seem strong, will actually slip under pressure (at least it does with wet polypro). Nothing like wrestling a canoe full of water in a current and when you get it to shore seeing that your knot may have given out with just a little more time or pressure. I don't know what the best is either but I've switched to bowline knots.

Bowline for the bow
Then what’s that knot on my stern painter?

Paddle Hard!


With a knot…

Depending on rope diameter…

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 4:30 PM EST –

If I'm using a rope with a fairly large diameter for a painter, I typically use a bowline & tie off the working end of the bowline with an overhand.

If I'm using a rope with a fairly small diameter for a painter, I typically use a figure eight follow through. Seems to be easier (with small diameter rope) to remove the figure eight follow through after the painter has been loaded (put under pressure).


a double fig. 8 easier than a bowline?
From years of climbing I can tell you that a double figure 8, after being fully loaded, can be a bear to untie. That’s why I almost always tie into my harness using a double bowline with a half double fisherman’s backup. A single bowline has a tendency to come undone if not under a constant load, but a double will stay put.

As for a painter, tie whatever holds. But if you ever want to untie it easily, I would suggest a double bowline over a figure 8.

try a locking bowline… rabit goes up the hole , then arround the bite and up thru the hole again before going arround the tree and back down the hole…hope this make sence. this is used quite often when using plastic rope and works well

Best Wishes


Best knot for my personal safety…
I need a knot that will hold my wife back while I make a quick dash out to buy another yak tomorrow. Can any of you suggest a good not the wont give until I’m at least a few miles away?

A hangman’s noose? LMAO

Figure eight follow through…

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 9:38 PM EST –

The stress I put on a bow/stern painter is never going to be enough to jam a bowline, or a figure eight follow through. I use the painter as bow/stern lines when boats are on the vehicle rack, and I use them to line boats down the river on occasion. If I am going to use a haul system on a boat, I would not tie into the painter. Once I place painters on my boats, they are left there till they need to be replaced; no need to untie/retie them onto boat.

Since you brought it up; I worked with groups rock climbing/caving for nearly 20 years. We used the figure eight follow through when tying into seat harnesses, and I never saw anyone have any problem untying that knot, and nobody ever worried about it coming loose either.

A bit of trivia re knots:

In a test conducted with Federal Test Method (from Frank & Smith, CMC Rope Rescue Manual, 2nd ed.) the bowline strength in lbf. was 7,180 with % strength lost at 33%. The figure 8 follow through strength in lbf. was 8,640 with % strength lost at 19%. Control rope was 1/2" static kernmantle. Page 66, Swiftwater Rescue by Slim Ray.

Also note page 171, Whitewater Rescue Manual by Charles Waldbridge & Wayne A. Sundmacher: Figure eight on a bight (same as figure eight follow through when finished), creates a strong reliable loop in the end of a rope. It is now used in place of the bowline knot "because it is easier to tie, easier to untie after being loaded, and much stronger."

Maybe Ray, Waldbridge & Sundmacher are full of beans; I don't think so........

Your option of course,


Forget about tying her up…
Just dump a big box of chocolate covered cherries on the kitchen floor, then make a run for it.

Double fishermans knot for cord

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 8:48 PM EST –

or for webbing I use a tape knot.

both knots provide a good hand hold

both knots provide a good hand hold or can be tied inside the boat so no knot is visible on the outside of the canoe or kayak

painters or end loops
I think the original question concerned tying on painters.

BTW when I was climbing/caving we called that tape knot a water knot.

Nice site BTW.

I agree
The bowline is the one knot that can always be easily untied, no matter how much it has been loaded. Just tilt the upper fold in the knot back, and that allows main line entering the knot to be pushed in to loosen it as easy as can be.

As to other knots, if you are tying to something that allows the knot to have a real “clinch” fit (no need to flop around), you can’t beat two half-hitches. It’s just as strong as a bowline, and also easy to untie.

Lineman’s Loop
Or a Figure 8 Loop.