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Old 10-14-2015, 09:01 AM   #1
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Dock lines - How long do you use them before replacement?

I have to admit that I keep my dock lines until they show wear then I replace them. Last year that meant that I got less than a season since we had an August storm that severely stressed my dock lines. One actually failed. This year the weather was benign and my dock lines look like new. I switched to 8 strand "brait" lines this year, which may be part of the reason they look new.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:10 AM   #2
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I think dock line replacement varies greatly between boating locations, type of line used etc. I use 3 strand and buy it by the 200 ft. roll and make my own loops. I also use chafe protection at the hause pipes. I look for wear and subtleness before replacing and also soil but this can sometimes be washed out.
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:43 AM   #3
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You should buy new dock lines twice a year! Of course I sell dock lines.
Seriously, when you see wear is when to change them. Mine usually last several years.
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:47 AM   #4
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I like really long spring lines made fast on my midship cleat. I tie the boat stern in noticeably so boarding is made easier. The Willard has quite curved sides. And of course the bow hangs out a bit. Then I pull one of the spring lines up tight. And if the conditions are challenging (like wind) I tie midships first, then stern and then a fairly slack bow line. Overall I prefer long mooring lines.
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:54 AM   #5
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Tend to agree with La Bomba, depends on the area and conditions. I tend to use the heaviest line I can that can comfortably fit over the cleats on the vessel especially where we have two lines on each. We currently have 1 inch lines, these wear quite well over the last year or so ,and do not appear to need replacing in the near future.
If there is a forecasted heavy blow coming, I will place a couple of extra lines for peace of mind.

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Old 10-14-2015, 11:55 AM   #6
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Mine are seeing their last season...Since they came with the boat I have no idea on how old they are. I have a new set of "Traveling" lines that will likely last forever in that application...
Lines are (relatively) cheap compared to what they're holding. Replace as necessary..
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:32 PM   #7
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After four years, my lines are still going strong. Have no surge. Use three lines each on starboard and port tied to a total of six dock cleats.
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:38 PM   #8
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It varies widely by how you use them. Also doing a lot of transient docking we have to replace the starboard lines far more often than the port lines. It recently was three times in a year vs. three years. We actually moved the port to starboard then, just so we'd end up with new port lines followed by new starboard. Fixed docks in areas of large tide differences vs. floating docks are a big difference in wear.
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:33 PM   #9
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I use three strand nylon for my permanent dock lines at my home slip. These stay on the dock when I leave. I recently just changed out some of the lines that were about 10 years old, only because they were looking too ratty for my wife. I am in a protected slip in a protected harbor and use 6 lines to tie up the boat. 2 bow, 2 stern, and 2 spring.
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Old 10-15-2015, 09:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
You should buy new dock lines twice a year! Of course I sell dock lines.
Seriously, when you see wear is when to change them. Mine usually last several years.
Dang Parks....

I'm moving to a new slip the first part of next week and currently use 5/8' nylon dock lines. Blue of course. Once I find my sweet spot I plan on having some 3 strand 5/8 lines made the correct length at Ken's Hardware in Gulfport for the "stay" dock lines. I've managed to splice a few eyes and what not through the years- but never really got the hang of it. Hopefully the charge for splicing includes a training session- cause I really want to learn this.
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:49 PM   #11
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As already mentioned conditions in your slip make a huge difference. My charter boat slips in a very protected basin with no water movement other than tide, and great wind protection. The dock lines are over 10 years old. Full disclosure, I do clean and then soak my anchor lines in a fabric softener solution when the boat goes on the hard for the winter. It keeps them soft and easy to work with. Trawler will be docked in a similar environment in FL. Trawler will have a tougher time at the dock on Chesapeake Bay, much more open to the wind and a lots more boat traffic.

Have never bought lines for the charter boat. People regularly foul their anchor when wreck fishing and have to cut the rope. Find these 100 to 200' lengths on the bottom, bring them up and make dock lines out of them. Probably have 1, 500' of 1/2" nylon sitting in the garage. Need to find some fishermen that use 3/4" anchor line.

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Old 10-15-2015, 11:46 PM   #12
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I bought some 5/8" 3 strand nylon to make up dock lines at a good price, and it only lasted a year before starting to fray. Other lines are 3 years old without any sign of wear. Beware of the bargains.

I keep my dock lines as short as possible, especially at the stern cleat. I try to ensure none of the lines will reach the prop from the boat cleat.
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Old 10-16-2015, 12:01 AM   #13
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AusCan brings up a good point. There is a difference in 3 strand nylon rope. Most people like nice soft line because it's nice in your hand and usually cheaper. Unfortunately nice soft lay rope wears faster than medium or hard lay. If you want a line that will last buy a name brand like Samson or New England. These ropes will be preshrunk by heat treating them. They will feel harder than cheap ropes but they will last longer.
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Old 10-16-2015, 01:57 PM   #14
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We're having an ongoing battle with at my state owned and operated marina. There's the two percenters who tie up their boats with binder twine, old shoe laces, or whatever is handy that create a problem. Management response? The legal whiz kids decided that all dock lines must be no older than 2 years. In responding to this idiocy, several of us conducted some hard research on the longevity of dock lines. Answer - we were unable to find any reliable reference (not manufacturers and distributors [except Parks], USCG, insurors, AWWO, ASTM, etc., etc.) that so much as suggested a maximum useful lifetime or replacement schedule for nylon line.

There are plenty of common sense evaluation points, as noted above, but no objective criteria.

A lot of people think "stiffness" is a indicator of the line "wearing out" - my experience is that washing and fabric softener as OC suggests will restore a more agreeable hand. I look for chafe, fraying, and consistent lay. I also retire storm lines (dedicated, that only see the light of day when needed) after a serious blow (Isaac, for instance) when they've experienced substantial stretch.
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Old 10-16-2015, 02:23 PM   #15
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Why the love affair with 3 strand?
Always used braided nylon for everything.
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Old 10-16-2015, 04:17 PM   #16
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Why the love affair with 3 strand?
Always used braided nylon for everything.
3 strand is cheaper, easier to splice, believe stretches more for the same load, and it's what's available on the bottom of the ocean for free.

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Old 10-16-2015, 04:26 PM   #17
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I too use braided nylon. I think the braided nylon preference in BC is a regional thing.

My guess is they are easier to tie on to bullrails as they are slippery like a snake.

Mine are about 8 years old. Need to replace a bow line thus year. I replace due to on wear to the outer braid. The kernmantle always looks good when I cut them open.
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Old 10-16-2015, 05:09 PM   #18
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Why the love affair with 3 strand?
Always used braided nylon for everything.
We like it because it doesn't seem "squeak" as much. The 3 strand, when at a dock that has a lot of movement, for us, it's quieter as the line stretches when Hobo's moving around due to wind/current.
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Old 10-16-2015, 05:48 PM   #19
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What commends 3 strand for my use is the balance of cost, shock absorption, and strength. Using New England Rope's data, for a 5/8" line - 3 strand stretch at @ breaking strength is 12-20% vice 6.5-15% for double braid. Breaking strength is 12,200 3 strand vice 13,500 double braid. Cost (just using WM for quick - I buy it through my local yard for considerably less) - 3 strand $1.77/LF vice double braid $3.14/LF.

For about 60% of the cost (3 strand vs braided) you get 90% of the strength and 35% more stretch at max load. It works for me.
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Old 10-16-2015, 06:11 PM   #20
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We use braided nylon for mooring lines, although everything I have heard or read confirms OC's comments on the advantages of 3-strand.

We replace our mooring lines when they start to show signs of wear. When they get stiff we soak them in a bucket with fabric softener and then rinse them out. We get quite a few years of service out of a mooring/dock line. We used to use New England Rope lines but starting a few years ago switched to Samson when we need to buy a new line.
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