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A Knotty Problem

The account of the practice rescue by Chris Howell seems to have brought some comments in.  Since we believe that all members should be in no doubt about tying a bowline, we make no excuse for printing everything we have received.

OLIVER LLOYD writes: - ‘I enjoyed Chris Howell's account of the practice rescue down St. Cuthbert’s, but was rather mystified by the bit about the double bowline, at least that's what I call it.  He calls it a bowline on a bight.   The method of tying this knot that  I recommend was to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie an ordinary bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary.  The patient's thighs are placed in the two loops created by the knot and the remaining knot and the remaining loop passed round the chest.  He said he found it hard to follow and would recommend instead to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie a straightforward bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary etc.  Personally, I don't see the difference!’

A correspondent who calls himself DRIPSTONE takes up the business of the knot and goes on to discuss other problems raised in CHRIS’S article as follows:-

First of all I must admit a sneaking admiration for Chris as he volunteered to be a victim, which is more than I would!  As to Chris not understanding Dr. Lloyd’s way of tying the knot (which is a bowline on a bight) probably Dr. Lloyd would be only too glad to demonstrate at a convenient time, but I agree that his description is quite straightforward.  I would advise using all three loops, especially in wet weather conditions.  However, if any kind of bowline jams in an awkward spot and it is desired to release the victim, it could be one hell of a job, and rescuers might well be advised to carry a knife for cutting ropes if necessary ( I bet the tacklermaster will be pleased to hear this! - Editor.)

I don't think it is bad practice to strap a person up, remembering that on a real rescue, the victim may be very capable of helping one moment and then suddenly go into delayed shook just when you are on a tricky bit and have counted on his helping out. It is probably better to treat him as a dead load right from the word ‘go’ if possible.  Again, the odd remark like 'Can we get someone below the stretcher in case it slips’ may not inspire confidence in the victim, but may be very necessary for the rescuers.  The victim of a real accident probably has other and more pressing things to worry about.

I am not writing merely to criticise what was an excellent account which I found instructive, so much as to point out that the victim on a practice rescue cannot really be expected to act and feel like a real victim. would.

Finally, since it is well known that the B.E.C. consists entirely of experts in one field or another (mainly the other) we asked our expert on seamanship – JOHN RANSOM - for some instruction on the tying of bowlines on bight and reproduce his sketches as follows: -