Sunday, July 14, 2024

How To Tie Your Boat To The Dock

What To Do If Your Cleats Are Above The Dock

How to Tie a Boat to a Dock

This is most often the case for large boats.

Make observations about your boat. Are the bow cleats and stern cleats generally above the height of the dock? If so, this scenario applies to you.

If your boat matches this description and you tightly tie your boat to the dock at high tide, the lines will become somewhat slack when the water falls during low tide.

When this happens, your boat is much freer to move, which can cause problems.

For example, if your lines are loose, the boat can impact other boats nearby, and it may come into contact with the dock itse f.

In extreme cases, your boat may become lodged underneath the dock, resulting in tipping and possibly sinking.

If you tie your boat to the dock at high tide without thought to low tide, your lines may snap, freeing your boat.

None of these cases are ideal.

Tie A Boat With A Cleat Hitch Knot

In order to tie your lines to the cleat hitches on your boat and on the dock, youll need to master the cleat hitch. Its a relatively simple knot that is strong enough to keep your boat safe and secure. The knot is similar to making a figure eight around the cleat and creates friction by securing the rope underneath itself.

For more information on tying a cleat hitch, check out another installment of Boating 101, How To Tie a Boat to a Dock Cleat.

How To Tie Your Boat To Fixed Docks

Fixed docks also include side docks and pier docks.

When tying your boat to a fixed dock, many people think that you must leave a significant amount of slack in the lines to compensate for rising water.

However, this may not be the best idea. You must strike a careful balance between leaving enough slack and leaving so much slack that your boat collides with other boats and obstacles.

Experienced boaters usually leave minimal slack in the lines to avoid this issue.

So, how should you tie up your boat with minimal slack without putting yourself in a tough situation during high tide?

The key is to use long lines to tie up your boat securely. Long lines can handle the changes that come with high tide and increased tension.

To make this work, tie the lines from cleats that are the greatest distance possible from the dock. Avoid the closest cleats, and you will be able to use longer lines.

Use a spring line between the center cleat and the dock cleats. Repeat this from the rear dock cleat using a separate spring line.

Two or four pilings or a parallel dock

If you want to tie to one of these types of docks, use a finger slip for a more secure hold.

Wehn tying to a four piling dock, you can use up to a maximum of 10 lines to hold your boat securely in place.

Floating docks

Floating docks are easier to tie to with respect to the tide.

Since they float, your boat will minic their movement on the water.

In this case, you can use shorter or longer lines to tie your boat.

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Knots For Tying Boats To Docks

Knots are important to know for boating, and some of them are especially useful for tying up a boat to a dock. The most important thing is that you use the right knot so it can hold down a boat and keep it secure.

We wont cover all the knots, but below youll find two simple but extremely useful knots that you can use to keep your boat tied to dock.

Tying The Cleat Hitch


Some docks will have cleats to tie your lines to the dock. It is fairly easy to tie and untie. Loop the line around the base under the horns of the cleat until it crosses over itself. Make a figure 8 over the two horns. Then turn the line under itself to make a half hitch. Pull it taut. You will likely have left over line. Do not keep wrapping it around the cleat as your boat is already secure. Leave it next to the cleat.

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Berthing Basics: How To Tie Up A Boat

Learning how to tie up a boat is essential for safe, happy boating.

Being safe at the helm out on the water is the most basic boating skill, but the ability to berth a boat properly and securely tie it to the shore or pontoon is also essential knowledge for happy boating. Yet its something thats frequently done very poorlyand even by boaters with lots of experience. While it may not seem like a big deal, there are plenty of instances where a badly secured boat causes major damage not only to itself, but also to other boats around it. Whether youve got a gin palace or an inflatable dinghy, knowing how to properly secure your boat can certainly prevent a lot of expensive headaches.

Does this boat look securely moored, to your eyes?

Tying A Boat In A Slip

To tie up in a slip, either one flanked by docks or to an end dock and pilings, using four lines is usually the best method.

  • If youve backed into the slip, attach a line to each stern cleat on the boat and then cross them to the dock cleats.
  • Secure bow lines from each side of the boat forward to the dock cleats or pilings. This will secure the boat in each direction and allow enough line for the boat to rise and fall.
  • In area with a lot of tide, you may need to adjust the lines if you are tying up at either high or low tide and the dock is not floating.
  • If you tie up to a floating dock, of course, it will rise or fall with the tide along with the boat.

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Spring Lines Snug And Slackjpg

Learn more about how to tie spring lines with this Sailing Made Easy video by the ASA.

In the video, the instructor uses a pair of lines to form a spring. Keep in mind that many MSC yachts come equipped with a single long spring line. If this is the case with your yacht, tie one end of the spring line on the bow cleat and lead it down through the chock to the dock cleat at the boat’s beam. Pull the line as tight as you can and tie a cleat hitch with the middle of the line. Check to ensure there is a good distance between the dock and the boat’s bow. Adjust and retie the cleat hitch if necessary. Then lead the other end of the line through the chock and tie it to the cleat on the boat’s stern, keeping it as snug as possible.

Leaving Your Boat In A Slip Doesn’t Have To Leave Your Brain Tied In Knots Here’s How

How To Tie Your Boat To The Dock || Longshore Boats

Simple and neat, and tied to a cleat. A proper cleat hitch goes a long way toward tying up quickly and easily.

Tying up at a dock is one of those techniques that’s most elegant when it’s done simply. The trick is to get the fewest number of docklines serving the greatest number of functions. And doing that means paying attention to three things: Strong points, a good hitch, and the right combination of lines.

“Notice anything different?” the skipper bellowed. The houseboat’s rail we’d tied our stern line to it was now just a mangled pretzel of aluminum, thoroughly separated from the rest of the boat. The boat’s builder had secured the rail to the deck with nothing but short self-tapping screws. The lesson: Make sure all your lines are tied to a strong point both on the boat and on the dock. Usually this is a cleat, but a strong point may be a ring or an eye it may be a bollard or a bitt it may be a piling. The important thing is that whatever you tie off to needs to be stronger than the loads coming from the docklines. A good cleat or other strong point will be bolted through the hull or decking, with robust fasteners finished off with a nut, fender washer, and backing plate on the underside to spread the load. The lifting or towing eyes on a runabout are good strong points.

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Boating : Five Knots You Need To Know


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For an experienced skipper or crew member, tying the right knot for the task at hand is often a point of pride as well as safety and security. Attaching a new anchor? Youll want to use an anchor bend, of course. Tying up to a dock? Then a cleat hitch or rolling hitch might be in order.

Beginner boaters, on the other hand, sometimes seem overwhelmed when it comes to boating knots, and who could blame them? There are dozens if not hundreds of specialized knots used to do everything from making vessels fast to pilings to stowing a coiled rope in a tidy manor so it will be at the ready whenever needed.

While many knots excel at a dedicated function others are versatile enough to be used in a variety of situations. That means you only have to master a few basic ones to get started. Still, like anything else in the boating world, its best to putter before you cruise. Following are five essential knots all boat owners and crew members should know. Master these and you should be fine in most situations. Add a couple new ones to your repertoire each year, and youll soon know enough knots to handle any on the water situation.

Used to tie boats and PWC to docks, bulkheads and boat lifts via cleats, this knot is quick, easy to tie, and doesnt slip. For many, its the first boating knot to be mastered.

1. Wrap the line completely around the far horn of the cleat.

2. Pull the line over the near horn and wrap it under the far horn again.

What Is The Difference Between A Rope And A Line

You buy rope at a marine or hardware store. It can be synthetic like nylon and polypropylene or natural like hemp. It can be single braid or double braid. It can be white or colored or even multi-colored. It can be small or large It is all rope you buy for the boat for a variety of uses, once it gets on the boat it becomes Line. That is the only difference.

The end of the line tied to something on the boat or dock is called the standing end and the free end of the line is called the bitter end. The loops making up the circular coiled line lying on the deck or hanging from a hook is called a bight. Main safety rule: Never stand in the bight of a line, very dangerous!

When using the line to tie up the boat to the dock, there are often cleats on the boat and/or the dock to attach the lines. Cleats usually have a base with 2 horns extending out that the line is wrapped around to hold the boat in place. The line can be very effective when tied off correctly as shown in the drawing here. Simply wrapping the line around the cleat without creating a locking hitch doesnt hold well. Dock lines or spring lines can be used to hold the boat fast to the dock. Spring lines prevent the boat from going forward or backward while dock lines hold the boat to the dock laterally. to see the correct way to tie up lines to the cleats at the dock or cleating.


Clove Hitch

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Tying Up Boats: Mooring Basics

Do you know how to properly moor your boat?

Aside from knowing how to safely run a boat out on the water, being able to securely moor it is one of the most important skills a boater can possess. Yet its something thats frequently done very poorlyand even by boaters with lots of experience. While it may not seem like a big deal, there are plenty of instances where a bad mooring job causes major damage not only to the boat, but also to other boats around it. Whether youve got a pontoon boat or an inflatable dinghy, knowing how to properly secure your boat can certainly prevent a lot of expensive headaches.

Does this boat look securely moored, to your eyes?

Pier Docks Fixed Docks Or Side Docks

TOP KNOT ~ How To Tie Up

There are many misconceptions about tying your boat to a fixed dock. One that is especially popular is that you need to leave some slack in your lines to allow for tide changes. Technically, it is true that this can help in relieving tension in the line and prevent it from snapping.

But this does not mean that it is a good idea. Loose lines allow your watercraft to move freely and bang up against the dock or other boats parked nearby. This can damage your boat, the dock, and other boats. Most experienced boaters will tell you that you never want to have slack in your lines.

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How To Tie Your Boat To A Dock Piling

If you ever need to tie your boat up to a dock piling without a cleat, you need to know how to tie the bowline knot.

Its very strong, super quick to tie , and you can break it easily .

In this video, Capt. Mark Hollywood Johnson is going to show you how to tie this knot step by step.


P.S. He also shares a tip that will keep the line snug on a piling so it doesnt slide down into the water.

Two Knots Every Boater Must Know

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Many dock lines come with a loop already manufactured into the line.

If you have one of these lines, you need to know the two knots below.

The first knot isnt actually a knot, but more of a way to secure the loop to the cleat on your boat.

All you have to do is put the loop through the chock of the cleat, wrap the loop around each of the horns, and cinch it tight.

The other knot is a figure eight with a locking half hitch.

You can learn how to tie the figure eight with the locking half hitch in the video above, or in this blog post.

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Take Lines And Leave On Cleats

This works for calm weather trips. When using a loop style knot on the bow rails, make large enough coils in the dock line so that the gravity of the larger coil ensures that this style of knot doesnt come undone. Even if your undone bow line isnt long enough to get fouled in your prop, several miles of trailing in the water will unravel it. If you do spot it coming undone in a heavy sea, some brave soul has to volunteer to go out and secure it. This is not a safe thing to do.

To hang your dock lines on a bow rail, coil your bow line into a large coil. Lay half of the coil over the rail. Reach through the near half coil and grab the other half coil and pull it through the near half coil. Pull tight to secure it to the rail.

In the picture at the right, Doug is pulling away from the dock with his bow line looped through the bow cable on the 45 Doral.

One of the problems with looping your bow lies over the bow rails is that it could be difficult to retrieve them from the dock. On a beamy boat, the curve of the bow puts your looped line out of reach from the dock. If the height differential from the dock to the bow rail is greater than your arms length, it also is out of reach from the dock. As a result, a third person is necessary to pass the line from the bow to the dock.

It is better to leave your bow lines in place and run them down the side deck outside the stanchions and secure tightly to the spring line cleat or whichever stanchion post the line reaches to.

This Is Usually Overkill

The Cleat Hitch: How to tie up your boat to the dock

in our opinion though, and something more suitable for docking in a storm or especially rough waters. If you ever feel the need to tie four spring lines.

Just make sure the tension is about the same in each. You dont want the boat to be tilting to any one side.

In the case that you encounter a slip with only two pilings. Run long lines from the port piling to the bow and one to the stern. You wont have the ability to have spring lines in these slips.

But what you also want to do is to cross lines from the dock behind the boat. To the two stern cleats.

This will help keep the boat docked securely. Which is especially useful as you cant tie a spring line in this case.

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For Smaller Boats With Cleats Slightly Lower Than The Dock

If you own a smaller boat, chances are that your cleats are situated at dock level or slightly lower. When you tie the boat up snugly at high tide, it might end up hanging by the line at low tide. If your boat is heavy enough, the tension created in the line can snap it, leaving your boat adrift.

Small boats run the same risk as large boats when they are tied up and the tide rises and lowers. Snapping lines, water entering the boat, and capsizing are all accidents that can occur if you dont account for rising tides.

What is most common with smaller boats though. Is that they will get stuck under the dock! As the tide goes down, because of lower gunwales, they can work themselves under the dock. Then when the tide comes up. It pins the boat under the dock.

Eventually rising to the point of damaging the boat and the dock. Even to the point of sinking the boat!

To avoid these things from happening to you, always account for tide changes. How this is done depends on a lot of things. Like which type of dock you are tying your boat up to. Read on to find out more about the different types of docks you may encounter.

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