Are you ready to dock? Great—but before you get started, you need to learn the lingo…
Say you have a tire swing in your back yard—you know an old tire hanging on a rope. Take that rope off the swing and walk to the dock. In boating lingo, as soon as you step from the dock to the boat, that rope becomes a line. And the lines you use to tie your boat to the dock are called—you guessed it—docklines.
- Nylon is the most popular material for docklines. There are a couple of reasons for this. One— it’s strong. And two—it has some give—it will stretch a bit as your boat rocks to and fro at the dock.
Next let’s talk about construction. There are two main types of nylon docklines.
- Three strand docklines tend to stretch or give quite a bit and are abrasion resistant.
- Braided nylon docklines are stronger, come in lots of cool colors to match you boat and generally feel more substantial. You’ll probably pay more for braided lines. However, they tend to last longer then three strand lines.
Docklines come in different sizes and lengths—naturally, the size and length you’ll need is based on the size of your boat.
For example, if your boat is less than 27 feet long, your best bet is 3/8 inch diameter docklines, about 2/3 as long as your boat for bow and stern lines and the same length as your boat for spring lines. Naturally, dockline diameter and length increase with boat size.
If you keep your boat tied up for very long, you’ll want to protect your docklines from chafing, that is rubbing against the boat or dock. There are lots of anti-chafing products on the market—your marine retailer can help you choose the right one.
Now that you’ve got the right docklines, you’ll want to stop your boat from beating against the dock with fenders. Fenders are special cushions that are placed along the side of the boat to protect it from hitting the dock. They’re usually made of soft, inflatable plastic or closed cell foam and come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors.
- One word of caution about fenders—while it’s a good idea to hang them over the side while you’re idling up to the dock, be sure to remember to stow them before hitting the open water. Nothing says “novice” more than fenders flapping in the breeze as you merrily cruise along.
Finally, don’t skimp when it comes to docklines and fenders—your boat is a big investment and deserves good equipment.
That’s it for now. See you out on the water!