Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Burlington Bowline

Howdy riggers,

  Here's a brand spanking new single column tie for your toolbox. I came up with it last month after teaching my Column Theory class at Bound in Boston. In preparation for that event, I had been studying, dissecting, tying, and retying every column tie I could get my hands on for months. One morning after the con, I woke up with serious rope on the brain and just had to dive out of bed for my m0co jute. The problem plaguing me seemed straightforward enough: "How could I keep the much maligned Boola Boola from capsizing without giving up its charms of speed and easy tensioning?"

About 30 minutes of really hacking on this problem led me through some really weird bowline-esque ties resembling a French Bowline gone terribly wrong. There I was, digging myself deeper and deeper into some truly ugly knotwork when suddenly I hit on the key to the solution...

The problem with the Boola Boola is that the loop in the standing end through which the bight is passed to complete the knot is free floating in the line above the bands which wrap the column. Just tie a Boola Boola and pull on the standing end to see what I mean. You can move the knot away from the bands easily by simply applying tension to the rope.

If this knot isn't dressed carefully (or if the rope being used doesn't have much tooth), it is possible that the loop in the standing end will transfer to the bight, thereby turning the final knot into a half hitch with the bight passing around the standing line. If this happens, your previously secure Boola Boola will have just devolved into a collapsing noose. Major fail.

In the end, the solution that came to me was that I needed to fasten the loop in the standing line to the bands wrapping the column. In so doing, the loop can no longer transfer to the bight, and this modified Boola Boola can no longer collapse. Elementary, my dears...

And thus was born the Burlington Bowline...cousin to both the Boola Boola and the Somerville Bowline...fast to tie, easy to tension, and bombproof.

Go get 'em!


  1. That's smart! Here's what Nina & I came up with: http://esinem.com/portfolio/single-column-tie

  2. Interesting idea with the double twist! The way I've always thought about keeping the loop direction straight in my mind is whether you pass the bight around the standing end (this creates the reef knot) or if you pass the standing end around the bight (which creates the stronger half hitch). The problem that I've come across is that even with the loop direction right, sometimes (if I don't dress it firmly or I'm using synthetic rope) the loop will transfer from the half hitch to the reef knot under a bouncy load. This is what precipitated my development of the Burlington Bowline as explained above.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Can u provide free downloadable site or videos, plz&ty..??