Originally Posted by Polwart
I think one of the main reasons is that it is very easy to check if it is tied correctly. You need a bit more practice to spot a dodgy bowline than a dodgy figure of 8.
In my experience a figure of eight is also easier to untie than a bowline after a big shock load.
Climbers do still occassionally use bowlines but they are not derreguer (sp?) - I think I remember being told that their was a possibility for a bowline to capsize and then come loose although have never seen it happen - so that could be "urban myth".
Figure of 8 is acutually stronger than a bowline (well, it reduces the strength of rope less anyway) and shouln't capsize (but it's still thought good practice to put a half hitch on the bitter end).
But for marine use, a fig 8 can't be tied quickly or as easily (unless you can tie it on a bight). Bowlines can (should???) be tied one handed. Perhaps most importantly, put a fig 8 under sustained (not sure about shock) heavy load and it really locks up so solid that it's impossible to undo. I've never had major problems with bowlines even when they have been holding many tons of load.