Somerville Bowline

A Somerville Bowline tied in blue rope around the thigh of a person in a white bodysuit, just above the knee. Two double wraps of rope go around the thigh. The tail of the rope enters the frame from the bottom and enters a knot that lies on top of the wraps. A three inch bight of rope exits the knot and lies on top of the thigh, pointing toward the knee.

The Somerville Bowline might be the most popular column tie among serious riggers. It’s a subtle tie that is hard to learn, but it has numerous advantages compared to the basic single column tie:

  • It’s very fast to tie because you never have to pull the full rope through the tie.
  • It’s very stable
  • It’s stable when pulled from the working end and/or the bight

The biggest disadvantage of the Somerville is that it can sometimes jam when it’s been under heavy load.

Attribution

The Somerville is one of a family of ties invented by Topologist, who has a set of excellent articles and videos about them.

Step by step

We are looking down at the thigh of a person in a white bodysuit seated in a chair. They are holding their left hand palm up over the left thigh, just above the knee. The index and middle fingers point down toward the knee and the thumb, ring, and pinkie fingers are folded against the palm.

1Place your left hand palm up over your left thigh, with the middle and index fingers extended.

A blue doubled rope enters from the lower right. It crosses over the middle and index fingers from right to left, then makes two counter-clockwise turns around the thigh. The turns lie flat next to each other, and both cross over the middle and index fingers. Six inches of bight leave the hand and point toward the knee. The thumb lies over all three passes of rope, pressing them against the middle and index fingers.

2Make two counterclockwise wraps around your left thigh, leaving about 8" of bight.

It is important that the rope travels over your middle finger and then your index finger, not the other way around.

The tail of the rope makes a counter-clockwise loop around the bight, crossing over itself over the palm of the hand. The loop is about three inches in diameter. The loop makes an X shape where it crosses over itself near the base of the fingers. The middle and index fingers pass through the loop from below, right next to the bight.

3Wrap the standing end of the rope in a counter-clockwise loop under your middle and index fingers, behind the bight, and over itself.

Note that at the base of the loop, the rope now makes an X shape where it crosses itself.

The bight has been folded over, so it now points to the left. It still comes through the loop from below, as do the middle and index fingers.

4Flip the bight over so that it passes over the X shape.

The bight crosses under all the wraps and comes up through the loop again.

5Pass the bight under the wraps and up through the loop that you made in step 3.

The knot has been pulled snug. The bight faces straight toward the knee and the end of the rope runs toward the body.

6Pull on the bight and the standing end to snug the knot.

The Somerville Bowline was created by Topologist, who has an excellent video tutorial of it at fullcirclekink.com/x120

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© COPYRIGHT 2018-2022 FULL CIRCLE KINK LLC