Securing your boat to the dock whether by ropes or other rigging is usually fairly simple, but sometimes weather conditions such as waves, wind, currents, wakes and such can make it difficult on Grand Lake. Knowing how to secure your boat to the dock properly will save you a lot of grief.
Many boaters prefer a three-strand nylon line because it can stretch under a load, it doesn’t shrink, and it comes in several lengths and diameters that will fit your boat’s size, weight, and cleat horn height.
The length of your bow and stern lines should be about two-thirds the length of your boat. Spring lines used to keep your boat parallel to the dock are run aft from the bow to the dock – this is called an after spring – and forward from the stern to the dock – this is called the forward spring. Spring lines should be as long as the boat.
For example, you may have a 21’ boat. You should have 15’ white three-strand lines for the bow and the stern, and 20’ lines for the spring lines.
You may have a sailboat – let’s say a 30’ sailboat. To secure this, you would use blue double braid dock lines. This is the best size for available pre-made dock lines. The bow and stern lines would be 25’ long pre-made lines, probably trimmed back to 20’. If they’re trimmed back be sure to whip the ends with waxed whipping twine. The spring lines should be 35’ long trimmed back to 30’ with the ends whipped similarly to the bow and stem lines.
The same general rule that applies to anchor lines, also works well for dock lines. The rule of thumb is 1/8” diameter line for every 9’ of boat length. Larger lines will wear longer, but stretch less. Stretch is important for absorbing the shocks caused by waves and wakes of passing boats.
This chart indicates the size of line that’s been found best for various lengths of boats.Boat Length Dock Line DiameterUp to 27'3/8"28'-31'7/16"32'-36'1/2"37'-45'5/8"46'-54'3/4"55'-63'7/8"64'-72'1"
Even if your boat is shorter than 20’, a 3/8” line is a convenient size to handle with the understanding that small lines will stretch more and wear out prematurely. But lines that are too large may not fit on your deck cleats, nor will it have sufficient stretch to absorb shock loads.
At home with your boat in your own slip, it’s best to customize your permanent lines. Then when you return home, there's no adjusting or fiddling with the lengths of the lines. You simply throw them over the cleats or bollards on your boat and you’re done.
Permanent dock lines – those lines permanently attached to the hardware of your slip -- must be protected from chafe, the enemy of all lines in constant use. Leather, rubber or fabric chafe gear is used where the line passes through the chocks, and possibly a chafe sleeve on the eye where it goes around the cleat on deck. At the dock, lines should be protected from chafe using eye splices and shackles.Tips for Securing Your Boat
If you're docking your boat at a boating destination away from your home dock, following these tips can keep everything safe and secure.
Travel lines - When you set out with your boat, make sure you have travel lines with you in case you have to make an unplanned stop, require a tow, or need to replace any lines you've lost or left at other docks. Bring two bow lines, two stern lines and two spring lines and make sure they're longer than what you use at your home dock.
Travel or transient dock lines are generally purchased pre-made with an eye splice at one end and a whipped end on the other. The eye in the end is easily passed around a cleat or piling by someone on the dock and the other end is then adjusted on board. There are dozens of combinations of diameters and lengths.
Securing your boat to a dock. The most effective and widely used knot for securing a boat to a dock, whether tie up to a piling, a ring, or a cleat, is a weather hitch, also known as a double half hitch. This knot (hitch) tightens under strain, it also allows for easy adjusting by sliding the hitch up or down the line to the tension or length you wish, and it will not work loose. A weather hitch (double half hitch) is very safe and easy to release quickly.
Never short tie - Lines used for docking need to be long enough to accommodate extremes, strong currents and high/low tide if applicable. There should be enough slack in the lines for prevent stress and breaking.
Fenders - Check fenders when docking to make sure they're secured to the boat.
____________________________________________________________________Tips for Best Securing Your Boat to a Boat Dock by Bill Morgan, Grand Lake Dock, LLC. Happy boating. www.grandlakedock.com