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Old 08-21-2012, 01:59 PM   #1
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Tight lines or loose lines

I would like to see some opinions on dock line tension.

I tend to snug all my lines up until my fenders are touching on both sides for times I am at the boat an back them off a touch when I leave just to save the gelcoat keeping the same amount of sag on all the lines. I cinch them down pretty tight on pending storms forecasting steady strong wind and double up on the bow and stern.

Just wondering what is the school of thought is from some of you old salts. Also what type rope do you perfer braid or strand.

Davy
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:38 PM   #2
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I tighten them down enough so that I can push the boat from the bow and stern as long as she doesn't hit anywhere I figure she is good to go.

I just want to be sure a gust won't push her up against the dock.

I use as many spring lines as needed so she is static on her lines. The dock lines should hold her off the dock and off the fenders.

Dock lines are expensive. I use 3 strand because I haven't learned to splice braided. If I get a chafe on a line I can cut and line splice to get 90% strength.

Sure beats throwing a 30 ft dock line away because of a few strands breaking.

SD
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:35 PM   #3
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My bow points toward the breakwater entrance and into the prevailing winds. So I use two bow lines (one Port and Star.) when I am not present or not using the boat. Holds the bow off the dock and keeps it from oscillating back in forth and applying excessive tension on the springs, stern lines and compression on the fenders in gusting winds. The rest of lines are adjusted to keep the boat about 6" - 12" off the fenders. I use four fenders dock side.

I would imagine, what's best for you will depend on your mooring setup and exposure to wind and tide.

p.s. my avatar was taken at the old docks and fenders were hung from the dock. New slips don't allow for that, so back to hanging them from the rail!!

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Old 08-21-2012, 04:59 PM   #4
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My boat behaves herself very nicely with all the lines slightly slack, provided both springs are correctly rigged. By this I mean lines 2C and 3B should be as long as possible. In real life A and B are likely to be the same point, as are C and D. I avoid attaching both springs to the same point on the dock (say cleat M) as there is a tendency for the boat to pivot about this point.
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Old 08-21-2012, 05:00 PM   #5
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I was always taught to have tight lines at low tide if tied to a fixed dock or pilings. Other than that I like the lines snug to allow a little movement, but not too much.

I much prefer 3 strand over braid because they have a little more elasticity hence do not jerk the boat like brided lines do. And as mentioned previously, I can splice 3 strand.
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:50 PM   #6
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THe docks out here are mostly floating so there is no need to account for tide changes. We tie the boat up tight when we arrive, but the movement of the boat gradually stretches the lines out a bit so they always have some slack in them. Sometimes I'll take this slack out later, sometimes not. It depends on how much slack there is. I think it's better to have some slack than lines that are always tight.

Be careful if you use ball fenders in a slip where your boat is usually being pushed onto the dock by the wind. We had this situation last winter when we were given a temporary docking assignment while our dock was being replaced. We bought a couple of ball fenders to add to our normal cylinder fenders since the boat would be pushed onto the dock by the prevailing SE-SW winds and storms. In our regular slip, which we are now back into, the prevaling winds hole the boat off the finger which is far preferable in my opinon than being pushed onto it.

Cylnder fenders can "collapse" or fold over the edge of a dock under wind pressure leaving only a couple of inches of cushioning, where wtih a ball fender you always have the diameter of the ball between you and the dock.

A problem can occur, however, if the boat is pinned against the dock by wind and there is enough water movement to keep the boat moving. After a winter of this including storms with winds gusting to 60 and 70 mph the ball fender that had born the most pressure had worn down the gelcoat a bit at the point of contact. This may not have occured had the pressure been born by a cylinder fender.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:49 PM   #7
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On a fixed dock with tidal changes I tend to use 3 strand of 3/4" line. When a storm is headed our way...ALL lines are doubled.

On a floating dock, like we are on now...I use 5/8" braid on braid, and keep it fairly snug to the fenders between it and the dock. If a storm comes up...the lines will be doubled up with the 3 strand 3/4", with the braid loosened up a little to allow the 3 strand to absorb shock.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoalwaters View Post
My boat behaves herself very nicely with all the lines slightly slack, provided both springs are correctly rigged. By this I mean lines 2C and 3B should be as long as possible. In real life A and B are likely to be the same point, as are C and D. I avoid attaching both springs to the same point on the dock (say cleat M) as there is a tendency for the boat to pivot about this point.
I always use the thought "floating free - no snagging". We use octoplait for its 'stretchiness', keeping the springs reasonably tight to prevent surging, whilst the bow and stern lines are kept fairly loose.

"Floating free - no snagging".
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:49 AM   #9
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Tight when floating, slack as you need for tide when to a fixed dock.

When tied to a mixed floater/fixed...it's somewhere in between depeding on boat/slip width.

Most dock lines are way too thick because of chafe...we normally go up in size so we still have strength in case we chafe or nick. Many 40 or so trawlers use above 1/2 inch when less than 1/2 would be strong enough without chafe....doubling increases the problem unless one is slack up until the othe breaks. Thus pulling cleats or pilings in a real blow.

I've used cheap 1/2 inch 3 strand for 2 seasons now with great chafe protection and it's been fine..great in fact because it stretches when it should. My marina has up to a 3 knot tidal currents, constant wakes from the intracoastal, gets 2 foot standing waves in a 35 knot blow (common in winter NWers or No'reasters)... and the single 1/2 inch is fine...you just can't afford any chafe.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marin View Post
.............
A problem can occur, however, if the boat is pinned against the dock by wind and there is enough water movement to keep the boat moving. After a winter of this including storms with winds gusting to 60 and 70 mph the ball fender that had born the most pressure had worn down the gelcoat a bit at the point of contact. This may not have occured had the pressure been born by a cylinder fender.
We keep our lines just a bit slack, but I have double lines everywhere anyway. To counter what Marin mentioned, I use cylindrical fenders, and also put fender socks on them, replaced about every 3 yrs.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:28 AM   #11
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Thanks for the input guys!

I am leaning toward three strand to replace all my lines. I currently have all braid and I agree once it gets chaffed it is pretty much trash. I had an outside slip for awhile and My boat had full exposure to the wind and white water in storms. I had two 3/4" braided bow lines break in storms. Brand new $100 lines from West marine! My swim platform was a casualty in one of those events. Since then I moved to an inside slip which is tougher to navigate due to the VERY fast tidal movements but I have not thought about a broken line since.

I also like the cylinder fenders vs Round for the same reason as some of you. In stormy situations they tend to pop out too easy.

Davy
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:19 AM   #12
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What are you using for chafe gear?

My son drives the big red trucks. When they decommissioned there 3/4" hose he snagged me a roll of it before it went to the dump. The stuff is great. It is rubber lined and leaves a bit of black on the line but since it is always in about the same place it is not an issue.

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Old 08-22-2012, 10:24 AM   #13
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What are you using for chafe gear?

My son drives the big red trucks. When they decommissioned there 3/4" hose he snagged me a roll of it before it went to the dump. The stuff is great. It is rubber lined and leaves a bit of black on the line but since it is always in about the same place it is not an issue.

sd
In the UK there's a really heavy duty hosepipe called Tricoflex - I use that.

Hozelock Tricoflex Garden 50 Meter Hose 1/2"
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:51 AM   #14
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Being we are a live aboard I keep the lines as tight as possible, boat does not move and the gate is center with the dock steps. Safety first! We have both ball and cylinder. The permanent docks are ball and on the boat are cylinder. If you tie the ball to the deck they will not pop out, like hanging from the boat. I have found the best is to have a fender about every 10 ft to distributing the pressure over several funders, and if one breaks not big deal. I find the fend socks wear more than the plain fenders but they can be washed and/or do not leave dirt/dark areas on the side of the boat.

I use three strand as that is what the commercial use, and get my permanent/ dirty/ugly lines out of the net box for FREE. For the pretty boat lines I also use 3 strands inch. In the winter the the lines are double.

I find that many pleasure boats tend to use too small a line to get a good grip? A line should be about as big as the thumb for a good grip, especially for the ladies with longer finger nails. I mean braking a finger nail can ruin a good day of boating!
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:01 PM   #15
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Thanks for the input guys!

I am leaning toward three strand to replace all my lines. I currently have all braid and I agree once it gets chaffed it is pretty much trash. I had an outside slip for awhile and My boat had full exposure to the wind and white water in storms. I had two 3/4" braided bow lines break in storms. Brand new $100 lines from West marine! My swim platform was a casualty in one of those events. Since then I moved to an inside slip which is tougher to navigate due to the VERY fast tidal movements but I have not thought about a broken line since.

I also like the cylinder fenders vs Round for the same reason as some of you. In stormy situations they tend to pop out too easy.

Davy
Do you know why your 3/4 line broke?

My guess is the 3/4 inch didn't break without some chafe, factory defect, previously overstretched or it had been nicked some place. The breaking strength is up aroud 15,000 pounds so I'm guessing it had been weakened somehow.
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:04 PM   #16
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What are you using for chafe gear?

My son drives the big red trucks. When they decommissioned there 3/4" hose he snagged me a roll of it before it went to the dump. The stuff is great. It is rubber lined and leaves a bit of black on the line but since it is always in about the same place it is not an issue.

sd
I'm using 1" clear vinyl tubing...line stretches in and out without any noticeable wear. It's long enough that it's the only thing ever in contact with the bronze and it's tied in place to the 3-strand with smaller nylon.
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:18 PM   #17
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Do you know why your 3/4 line broke?

My guess is the 3/4 inch didn't break without some chafe, factory defect, previously overstretched or it had been nicked some place. The breaking strength is up aroud 15,000 pounds so I'm guessing it had been weakened somehow.

The line was routed around my windless stanchion which is made of aluminum but has a rounded corners. I guess the friction from the storm wind and heavy water in my previous slip melted the rope. My bad for not having any chafe gear on the line. Also the line was more than likely too loose.

Davy
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Old 08-22-2012, 01:11 PM   #18
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Three Strand v braid? For dock lines, the material is important, whether it is three strand or braid is not. Docklines should be nylon, so that you get some shock absorption (stretch). Matters not whether three strand or braid. Both should get some chafe protection.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:06 PM   #19
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Along time ago I tied my boats nice an loose. How can a boat get into trouble? The first line holds the boat and the rest are redundant ... right? So what if my boat moves around a bit. And the boat can move some w/o jerking on the lines.

That worked well until I moved to Juneau Alaska. I saw other boats tied tight and thought their owners must be paranoid about them gett'in away.

Juneau is at the bottom of a 3000' mountain and there is the Taku Ice Field behind the mountains on the shore. Sometimes the air on top of the ice field gets very heavy and spills down over the mountain roaring through Juneau. I remember holding onto parking meters and rushing to the next or a car door handle just to stay upright. Well when the Taku Wind blows ones boat better be very TIGHTLY secured to the float. I almost lost my boat. From then on I tied my boats most of the time tight. A tight line has lots of tension but jerks much less. Jerking causes lots of chafing and can pull out cleats.

I use all nylon lines and clear plastic hose for chafing points. I tie 2 spring lines very tight to the midship samson post 10 to 20' long. Frequently I tie a large loop bowline and use it like a spliced eye. When it's re-tied differently at times most chafing will be avoided. And I don't forget how to tie a bowline either.

psneeld,
I always have condensation in my clear plastic hose for chafing. Has the condensation ever caused problems for you?
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:06 PM   #20
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We took a technique from a lot of the commercial fishermen in our marina and use clear "plastic" water hose for chafe. This is not automatically a good idea because in a storm situation or a situation wher the boat is moving a lot with a lot of pressure on the lines the friction can heat up and melt the plastic tubing and this can put the lines themselves at risk. But we don't have that situation so the plastic works great.

PS- Eric, we have condensation in our tubing chafe guards and it has never caused any problem. We use 5/8" braided dock lines from New England Rope.
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