The nonlinear free–surface flow near the extreme bow of a ship is a classical hydrodynamic example of a violent surface motion. The nature of these bow flows is discussed, and previous studies on them are reviewed, with emphasis on splashes and their elimination. Some new examples are provided of bow–like flows without splashes that can be computed by inverse means. In effect, the shape of the free surface is given, and the bow shape that generates this free surface is determined. This exact solution-generating procedure, which dates at least from 1901, is in principle capable of being turned into a practical design tool. Although this point has not been yet reached, some of the examples given here are not unlike the flow at the bow of a bluff ship.