Coordinates: 41,47'00.99 N 71,23'29.40 W

It’s Time to Talk Dock Lines

The phrase “less is more” is quite appropriate when it comes to dock lines and properly securing your boat to the marina. You don’t need a lot of equipment, multiple lines tied, or constant replacement of gear. At
East Greenwich Marina, we know our sailors are approaching the time where their prized boats are about to spend several weeks stationary. Preparation is key; therefore, it is time to give our attention to proper boat accessories.

What type of dock line should I buy?

The preferred and most common type of dock line is made of nylon. It comes in 3-strand, double, or mega varieties. Nylon lines are strong, offer good stretch and elasticity, coil easily, and can be made customizable to the size you require.

How long should my dock line be?

Your bow and stern ties should be 2/3 the length of your boat.

Your spring tie should be the length of the boat.

What should the diameter of my rope be?

The diameter of your line should be 1/8-inch for every 8 feet of boat. Therefore a 20-foot boat should have 3/8-inch diameter lines, and a 40-foot boat should have at least a 5/8-inch diameter. Don’t try to cut costs buying a smaller line than these dimensions. Saving money is not worth the loss of peace of mind that your boat will properly stay put during the off season.

How should I tie my dock line?

Loop your dock line through the stern cleat, at the back of the boat, on the side furthest from the dock and attach to the back-horn cleat on the dock behind your boat.

Then, attach the forward quarter spring line, which is the line on the front, right hand side of the boat to the horn cleat below the middle of your boat on the dock. Finally, secure the bow line, which is the line at the very top of the boat to the top horn cleat on the dock.

There are 9 possible dock lines on a boat, however, you should only use 3-4 lines at once to tie up the boat. Using too many dock lines can cause the ropes to become tangled and make the boat less secure.nsert pic of dock lines tied to dock)

Use a simple cleat knot to attach the dock lines. Again, the best tip for a good cleat hitch is to keep it simple: Three turns around the cleat’s horns; no more, no less. Additional repetitions of the process does not increase the security of your boat! Start by sliding the loop on the rope through the cleat, under the top of the cleat. Then, wrap the loop over the arms on the cleat and tug gently on the loose rope to tighten it.(Insert pic of rope around dock cleat)

How do I splice my line for a customized, permanent dock tie?

You will need the following tools for splicing a dock line: fid, utility knife, electrical tape, and thimble. A hot blade is also necessary for finishing, but if you won’t use it otherwise, just make a trip to your local hardware store for this final step.

While not complicated, it does take some finesse. We recommend you partner with an experienced splicer or tune in to a how-to video. (Wanted to check about linking to some how-to videos. I find this step to complicated to write out, and since they don’t offer splicing as a service, I don’t see this as promoting any competition)

What other accessories will I need for my dock lines?

Chafe guards increase the life of your dock lines and prevent fray during typical water motion, and especially during turbulent weather-impacted water motion. Common chafe guards come in leather and polyester. Some people use material resembling fire hoses, but this can trap more heat between the tubing and rope, causing deterioration of your nylon dock line.

A snubber is a flexible attachment that absorbs shock on your dock line due to winds and water motion. The snubber protects your hardware and reduces strain on the dock line.
(Insert pic of chafe guards and snubbers)

How do I clean my rope after the season?

Finally, the best news for our “less is more” motto – don’t buy more and more dock lines! The simplicity of reviving your existing lines can be found in your very own home. That’s right, just throw your lines in the washing machine after continued use. You can use heat and a heavy duty setting to get out that outdoorsy grime. Also, if you purchased white lines, bleach and fabric softener are completely appropriate to return your rope to its original shiny state.

Now you’re armed with the necessary dock tie information to enter the winter months confidently and keep your vessel safe and secure.
East Greenwich Marina welcomes your patronage. We have more than 85 slips available and in-water winter storage, and we offer year round opportunities for maintaining your boat. Come visit us, we promise you’ll be happy you reserved a slip with us at East Greenwich Marina in RI!