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Old 08-02-2016, 12:17 PM   #1
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Dock lines-- how tight?

I left the boat the other day, and it was pretty windy-- blowing about 15-20mph. I have a spring line on each side, and two bow and two stern lines on my boat, but they are not tied all that tightly to the dock so the boat kind of floats around maybe 6" from side to side with the wind.

I looked around at some other boats on my dock and some of them have the lines tied very tightly to allow no slack or boat movement. Is there a correct way to do this to reduce chafe and stress to the lines? I'm on a floating dock.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:23 PM   #2
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Is everything tied to a floating dock or are there fixed objects like pilings also involved? If so, what is the tide range there?
In any kind of roiled waters, very tight lines can put stress on whatever they are secured to. Are your dock lines three strand or other stretchy braid, or less stretchy stuff?
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:25 PM   #3
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Pilings and tied...loose enough to ride the tide...

Floating dock...I prefer tight ...but that may need adjustment if there are standing waves and the motion becomes uncoordinated.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
Is everything tied to a floating dock or are there fixed objects like pilings also involved? If so, what is the tide range there?
In any kind of roiled waters, very tight lines can put stress on whatever they are secured to. Are your dock lines three strand or other stretchy braid, or less stretchy stuff?

Everything is tied to the floating dock. Tide range is about 1'.
Water is calm.
I use three strand lines that came with the boat.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:29 PM   #5
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Pilings and tied...loose enough to ride the tide...

Floating dock...I prefer tight ...but that may need adjustment if there are standing waves and the motion becomes uncoordinated.

No standing waves. I'm at the end of the dock and get lots of wind but the water stays calm.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
Everything is tied to the floating dock. Tide range is about 1'.
Water is calm.
I use three strand lines that came with the boat.
Tight then.

But if what you're doing now seems to be working well, then stick with it.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:48 PM   #7
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I tie up similar to you; spring, bow, and stern lines. I tie them tight enough so the fenders don't touch the boat or fingers. The fenders enjoy leaving a colored mark on the hull!

Also, dock lines will stretch when wet. So dew and rain can loosen the lines considerably.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:58 PM   #8
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I live in an area with seasonal winds. I too am on a floating dock. I moor bow in with only a starboard side tie. No port side finger or piling to tie to.

In the summer when the pattern is NW winds, the wind pushes on the starboard aft corner of the boat and off of the finger. The aft stern line takes most of the strain. The forward spring is adjusted so it doesn't pull the boat into the finger, but won't allow the bow to touch the main float. The other lines serve to center the boat in the slip when calm. All lines are braided.

In the winter, fierce SE winds blow. I run another long three strand port bow line from my foredeck bollard to a far dock cleat (my neighbors, actually) to take the shock loading the gusts create. This also tends to keep the boat off of the fenders against the finger most if the time.

So the answer is...

It all depends.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:01 PM   #9
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15-20 is windy? Fairly normal for my location.
Your best bet is to keep all your lines tied to the floating dock if that is possible. Let it move a little bit, 6" is not all that much.

Tight lines at low tide if tied to a fixed dock or piling is my general guideline.
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:18 PM   #10
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We are on a floating dock and I leave a little slack in my lines. Not enough for the boat to be able to reach either finder dock, but enough so there's not a lot of tension.


We use three starboard lines, five port lines and two lines off the stern. The lines off the stern are the only ones that are fairly tight.
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:14 PM   #11
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I have always believed the spring lines to be the most important. The for'd spring and the aft spring should cross each other, and they should be fairly tight. This results in a "scissoring" action that actually pulls the boat away from the dock, while at the same time firmly preventing fore and aft movement of the boat. This also reduces chaffe.
The bow and stern lines are kept just slightly slack, so the boat can now move slightly away from the dock if the wind pushes it that way, but not too much.
So, I generally do not use the bow and stern lines to prevent fore and aft movement.
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:26 PM   #12
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Ok thanks all. I added an extra spring and tightened up the lines just a bit but they still have a slight amount of slack.

So are braided lines better than three strand?
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:30 PM   #13
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I have no idea why anyone would leave slack in lines tied to a floating dock....every argument except heavy wave action just doesn't sell me.

I also think many floating docks have cleats in positions where typical bow and stern lines and spring lines are blurred. With a lead forward bow line, a lead aft stern line and a midship tight breast line....if tied alongside...no springs are even necessary much of the time.

I can't say what lines are and aren't necessary because there are just too many options....but tight for me at floaters.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:18 PM   #14
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Tightening up dock lines now...

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Old 08-02-2016, 05:25 PM   #15
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I'm tied to floating docks on both sides, and have the equivalent of four lines to each side. There is no noticeable current, but there can be strong winds and some wavelets. Lines are tied so boat/fenders don't rub against the dock, but when tieing up, I leave a little bit of slack in the downwind lines. If all lines are tightened, they can squeak, and it feels like the boat is working against itself and the dock cleats.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post

So are braided lines better than three strand?

They are different. Three strand has more stretch than braided, but braided are easier on the hands than three strand. I use three strand for my permanent dock lines in my home slip but use braided for the dock lines when away from home.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:52 PM   #17
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I am on a floating finger pier. I use four lines to secure the boat on the port side only. All my lines are 8 strand brait. It has the best hand, doesn't hockle and has more stretch than 3 strand or double braid. My lines are fore and aft springs that I keep fairly tight to keep the boat from moving fore and aft. I have single bow and stern lines that I don't keep particularly tight, just tight enough to keep the boat parallel to the finger pier. Since I only have one midships cleat, my springs are actually a single line with a brummel spliced eye in the center..
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Old 08-02-2016, 07:12 PM   #18
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We use these dock line snubber /shock absorbers . Overkill for our little trawler but they do work .
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Old 08-02-2016, 07:23 PM   #19
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Be careful not to tighten your lines too tight...your hull might turn blue
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:27 PM   #20
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I usta think fairly loose was preferable.
Until I moved to Juneau. People warned me but as usual I did my own thing. That winter the Taku winds came close to ripping my light boat from the float. After that if the posibility of strong winds exists I tie up tight. Real tight. Minimal movement. And no list.

For those that don't know Juneau the wind comes 3000' down off the mountians right above downtown such that you've got to bend your neck to it's max to see the top. The cold heavy air on top of the mountians and Taku Glacier rushes down the mountians w such force that walking downtown on Front Street is frequently impossible. Or even standing up. You'll see people hanging onto cars, telephone poles and parking meters. The Taku wind requires tight mooring lines.

At times the wind goes up the mountian. A river forms from melting ice up high and I've seen the river blown up and right over the top of the mountain.

But tight lines may increase chaffing.
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