Determining Dock Lines - SailNet Community
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Determining Dock Lines

It's time to replace my dock lines. Since I'm on a mooring and prefer to anchor when I cruise, I use them rarely. What would you suggest I purchase to be prepared for most situations? I sail a 30-foot sloop with a fin keel that displaces 10,000 pounds when fully loaded.

Sue & Larry respond:
The minimum dock lines you need to have on board for a normal side-to the dock tie up are a bow line, a stern line and two spring lines.  If outboard pilings happen to be present too, it would be a good idea to add an additional bow and stern line to take advantage of that extra security. We think itís a good idea to carry a back-up line coiled on deck and ready to toss at a momentís notice if the first line misses its target.  Having a back-up line ready on Serengeti, has saved us several times in hairy docking situations. 

The requirements for dock lines vary from boat to boat, but as a rule, the bow and stern lines should be two-thirds the length of your boat and the spring lines the full length of your boat. For a 30-footer youíll want to specify at least half-inch diameter for your line.

Nylon is the preferred material for dock lines due to its excellent stretch and shock absorbing characteristics. Itís available in both three-strand twisted and braided form.    The three-strand variety has the best stretch characteristics, and is the most durable overall. The braided line is softer on the hands and is easier to coil. 

For convenience you might want to buy your new dock lines with an eye already spliced in one end. Check out the SailNet on line Store for a full selection of dock lines, all at very competitive prices.  

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