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Thread: Dock Lines

  1. #1

    Default Dock Lines

    I am going through my books and resources re-reading them to make sure I haven't missed anything (plus it gets my mind off the long cold winter ahead!) and noticed something about dock lines...

    I know that I should have a bow line and a stern line, but my info also says spring lines are needed. But the picture shows two lines leading to one central cleat. Is the spring line one continuous line looped somehow around the cleat or is it two separate (but shorter) lines? And how many of you actually use spring lines? I know riverboaters don't and many of the smaller craft I have seen in Valdez don't but should spring lines be used?

    Also how do I know what size line will fit in the cleats on my boat? Is there some sort of guage or rule to go by so I can order my dock and anchor line over the winter?

  2. #2


    Depends on the size of your boat as the size of the line. The spring line stops your boat from sliding forward, backwards, or out from the dock. most small boats don't have a cleat a mid-ship, so you might need to be creative to get that third line tight. Three lines are used mainly when you are a larger boat or you are going to be at the dock for a while. You don't need special lines for dock lines. You can splice eyes in one end and call it good. Just make sure it is a quality three strand line.

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by Kenai Boater View Post
    Just make sure it is a quality three strand line.
    So you don't recommend double-braided rope as docking line? Why?

  4. #4


    I have a 24-ft boat. When tied up at the dock, I usually only tie off using a bow line and a stern line. However, using only these two lines allows you boat to move forward and backward a little, especially if the cleats on the dock you tie off to aren't directly in line with the cleats on your bow and stern. If things are tight and I have a boat real close in front and behind me and I want my boat to drift into then, then I will use spring lines to my mid cleat. One line from the mid cleat going forward, and a separate line from mid cleat going aft. Then your boat will stay put, although I've never found spring lines to keep my boat from moving a little ways out from the dock. I don't see any reason to not use double braid vs. 3-strand dock line just as long as it's quality line.

    About everything you want or need to know about boating, docking, lines, etc. is in a book called Chapman's. Hardback, thick, not inexpensive, find at West Marine and who knows where else. By the time you learn everything in it, winter will be over!

  5. #5


    Double lines are great if you want to spend the money. I have spliced them a few times, but are a real pain. I can splice a couple of loops in three strand the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Three tucks and a taper, and a way you go.

  6. #6


    There are some good DVD's (West Marine catalog) that cover basic stuff like docking/tieing up, they are simple and not to heavy, short and informative.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Douglas Island

    Default Dock lines

    You can use a single line to do double duty, such as fore/aft spring line. If you have one really long line, you could actually tie your boat up with a single line very effectively. Here's a simple diagram; notice that the spring lines (normally cleated amidships) run at angles and prevent the boat from shifting forward/aft and the lines that are more perpendicular to the dock keep the boat from going away from the dock. The two stern lines in the diagram will help keep the boat from rubbing the dock by keeping the stern out; seldom will the forward part of the boat even touch the dock if you've got it tied up correctly. Incidentally, this is my 'winter' setup and my boat has withstood 80K winds and not suffered dock damage, so it works! When an old fisherman taught me about the stern lines, I doubted their effectiveness, but after 14 winters, I can tell you that it works. During the summer, I usually don't put on as many spring lines; just enough to keep the boat in place. A good test is to try and move your boat back and forth when it's tied up and see how far it goes; remember that nylon lines will stretch and three-strand will often stretch more than double-braid. If all else fails, befriend a salty local for advice; you might also snag some great fishing spots! Mike
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