fbpx

Tying Your Dock Lines Right

The length of the boat lines are important depending on the location of the dock cleats and pilings in relation to the boat cleats and boat position at the dock.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on email

A Reader Asks:

Captain Vinny,

Every time I tie up my boat, I came back to fine the tide has changed everything I’ve done and the boat is either under the dock or the lines are tight and the boat is listing. What’s the secret?

– John Grunow


Thanks for the question John!

Once you understand the tide and currents around your dock, then tying your boat off will be rather simple.

The tide changes from incoming to outgoing every 6 hours. The closer you are to an inlet or bridge, the more extreme the water movement is.

My first thought would be to ask your dock neighbors or dock master what the local knowledge is of the water movement around the marina. I would ask how high does the water rise and how low does the water fall. Once you arrive to the dock location with your boat, you will need appropriately sized fenders(bumpers) and boat lines for bow, stern and spring cleats.

The length of the boat lines are important depending on the location of the dock cleats and pilings in relation to the boat cleats and boat position at the dock. Another item you may need are mooring whips to keep the boat away from the dock. I would also suggest blocking out a 6 hour time span that corresponds with either an outgoing or incoming tide, so you can observe what is happening to your vessel. Make sure when you are at dead low tide, the lines are not too tight.

Take note that when the moon is Full and when the moon is New, the tides will have higher high tides and lower low tides. Also, when there is a substantial amount of rain, the spillways from the Everglades will be open and create extreme water levels as well.

I would recommend making your dock lines permanent and the loop end be on the boat cleats. The loop end at the boat cleat makes it easier for people, who are non- boaters, to help place the loop over the cleat. Purchase a set of 6 traveling lines(2 bow lines, 2 stern lines and 2 spring lines).

There is a lot to take in on this topic John, however, once you understand dock location and proper line length, you won’t have to worry about your vessel getting stuck under the dock or lines too tight.

When purchasing the fenders and dock lines, look at the packaging information to make sure the right size and strength.

I hope this helps John!

Calm Seas and Safe Boating
Captain Vinnie

More To Explore

Boat caught under dock from incorrect dock lines
Ask the Captain

Tying Your Dock Lines Right

The length of the boat lines are important depending on the location of the dock cleats and pilings in relation to the boat cleats and boat position at the dock.

aerial view of boat docking against current
Ask the Captain

Docking Into the Current (or Wind)

A reader asks: “Can you give me a few pointers on docking with a cross current?”
That’s a great question, because no matter what body of water you are located in, the answer is the same…