Size & Type: Dock lines vs. Mooring lines - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 05-17-2011
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Size & Type: Dock lines vs. Mooring lines

Hi All,
I'm just about complete on my purchase of this Contessa 26 and I noticed that every last one of the previous owner's mooring lines as well as their docking lines are about to fall apart; Not one will I trust to keep the boat secured.

So...
My home yacht club requires a minimum of 5/8" lines with thimbles and then to chain to moor against the dock. That's fine. I am able to splice my own 3-strand nylon lines but am wondering if there is a better choice.

Before I reach my home yacht club, we'll be cruising for 3+ weeks, bouncing between yacht clubs, marinas and anchoring in the great lakes. I plan to buy a set of dock lines and am wondering what the length, size and type of line will work best. Keep in mind, this is a heavy, yet tiny, cruiser so I want to keep enough line to give me enough contingency but not fill all the lockers with line. Will 1/2" 6900-8500lbs line suffice? I prefer handling braid but I think 3-strand might be easier to cut/splice etc.

Since I'm replacing so much line at once, does it make sense to buy a bulk spool that can be used for mooring lines, docking lines and maybe get some mileage for extra anchor line?
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Old 05-17-2011
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Double Braid

5/8 is plenty for your boat. Since your home marina requires it, just get it. I would get the enough for at least 6 lines total; 2 spring, 2 bow/stern and 2 extra long bow/stern. For lengths, 2x boat length for spring, 1x boat length for bow/stern, and 1.5x for utility lines.

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Old 05-17-2011
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Hi Jordan,

I have a 29,500# 40' ketch @ Pier 39 in SF - known for having a lot of surge! I rock 1" three-strand docklines, three strand is really easy to splice, although you may need to retighten them a few days after docking as they have plenty of stretch under load. Two 100' lengths of 5/8" line should be plenty for most mooring situations, it wouldn't hurt to have one at 200' as a primary and a second at 100'. If you can get a great discount on a spool and have a garage to keep it in it is likely worth the money and the time saved on trips back to the chandlery. I like 30' lengths on my dock lines, allows plenty if you need to heave one in a tight jam, but on a vessel your size 20' would likely be enough. I tend to make up 30' lengths with a spliced eye at one end, reasoning that I can swap end for end or repurpose the remnant as a permanent fixed line I leave secured to my dock.

Many people here use motorcycle tires as snubbers, they seem to last much longer than the cheap rubber jammies available at West Marine you wrap a line around. Also much better than the bungee type snubbers. I've quit buying line at West Marine, I get much better prices and quality from a local chandlery that services commercial fishermen. Frequently remnants can be had for a fraction of the cost of line off the spool.

Cheers,
h
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Old 05-18-2011
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D'oh. I just rechecked the club rules and I misread it. For boats my size it is 1/2" minimum. Well, that settles the size issue.

Thank you guys for the tips on the lengths.

3-strand, I can splice myself, it's cheap, it gives a little.
Any pro's to choosing a braided line (other than it's nicer on the hands)?

I'll likely forego the snuffers if I'm getting space at the club since it's got no surge at all and the docks are floating.

Lastly, quality... What do I look for when determining quality? I assumed 3-strand nylon was more of a commodity product and had intended to buy wherever was least expensive; Now you have me thinking I need to be more selective.
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Old 05-18-2011
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Hi Jordan,

I'd go with heavier than 1/2" if you can afford it, easier on the hands and a lot of benefit in terms of max breaking strength. To me three strand is preferrable as it is likely to be half the price of braided and much easier to splice. Look for the softest three strand line you can find, what they are selling at W.M. now gets very stiff quite quickly. Snubbers help limit the strain on your anti-chafe gear on the bow and stern and in my view are mandatory on a boat 35' and up, although with my 24' and 27' boats previous to the one I'm on now I never used them. Braided line will stretch less so if you plan to dock your boat and walk away from it for a month or two there may be an advantage there. You could easily befriend someone at the marina however and causually ask that they keep an eye on your boat and tighten up your dock lines as needed. DrB has good advice and I would plan on bowlines, stern, and fore and aft spring lines on both sides of your vessel.

Many folks in my marina use dedicated lines that they fasten permanently to the dock for mooring at home and keep another set of mooring lines either on the bow and stern or in a locker for use visiting other locales. This has the advantage of limiting wear on the lines you are likely to be heaving to a stranger fighting a tide to get into a tight slip or mooring, although it may be something to persue after you have already worn out your first set of docklines and wish to reuse the shorter remnants you now have available.

Cheers,
h
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Last edited by sfchallenger; 05-18-2011 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 05-18-2011
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Thanks h,
Yes, affording it isn't the problem so my top goal is function but less expensive is good as I'd rather spend money elsewhere. Definitely a plus for 3-strand and a minus for braid. I do prefer thinner rope for coiling and takes less space. I'll need to see which thickness works best for the cleats on the bow & stern.

I've been around other people's boats for years and know what I prefer in terms of line arrangements and what I prefer to handle, but I've never had to buy/choose the lines for myself. What you've described was the original plan; Buy 5/8" mooring lines for the club (permanently attached) and 1/2" docking lines to keep onboard. If I don't buy a spool, then I suspect that will continue to be the plan. I definitely prefer handling braided lines but cost and splicing make them less desirable.

Presently the aft locker is jammed with a mash of lines that are too stiff to coil and so shagged I wouldn't use them as a leash for my dog - all of them are bound for a dumpster when I take possession so I'll need lines on day 1.
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Old 05-18-2011
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Jordan, does your yacht club require the use of 3-strand; or are you using that because it is easier to splice? I ask because double-braid is preferred by most boaters.

Also, in which part of Canada are you based? If on the West Coast or in Ontario, West Marine stores frequently offer seminars on splicing double-braided line. I don't practice enough , but it is not hard to learn.
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1/2 inch is more than adequate for your boat. The length of bow and stern lines should equal two-thirds of your boat's overall length. Spring lines should be slightly longer, approximately the same length as your boat. Spring lines keep the boat snugly near the dock by preventing it from moving fore or aft, while allowing for the rise and fall of the tide. Keep in mind; the position of cleats on your boat and dock may affect the length of the dockline. I wouldnt bother with the snubbers if using nylon line. You can buy a 20 ft 1/2 inch double braided line for about $15 already professionally spliced
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Hi SailJunkie,
The club requires 1/2" line. They do not specify type.
The mooring lines must be spliced with a thimble so that they can be connected to chain on the floating docks.

I mentioned 3-strand line because I am already capable of splicing 3-strand, including splicing the thimble into the line. On the other hand, I have never attempted to learn how to splice braided line. 3-strand out of convenience for mooring lines.

I am on Lake Ontario and the boat is presently in Lake Huron; It will be stored either with me on Lake Ontario or perhaps up in Georgian Bay... the jury is still out on that one. :-) At any rate, thanks for the heads-up on the course through West Marine.
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Old 05-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delite View Post
1/2 inch is more than adequate for your boat. The length of bow and stern lines should equal two-thirds of your boat's overall length. Spring lines should be slightly longer, approximately the same length as your boat. Spring lines keep the boat snugly near the dock by preventing it from moving fore or aft, while allowing for the rise and fall of the tide. Keep in mind; the position of cleats on your boat and dock may affect the length of the dockline. I wouldnt bother with the snubbers if using nylon line. You can buy a 20 ft 1/2 inch double braided line for about $15 already professionally spliced
Thanks delite. uh... although rise & fall of the tide here in the Great Lakes is minimal. I appreciate the arrangement suggestions, but the question here is more about the type of line; Braid vs. 3-strand.

Yes, I've seen pre-packaged dock lines at local marine shops. And local marine shops will even splice the thimbles in for me at my request as well. The question is which type of line for which purpose. Prepackaged braid dock lines with custom length 3-strand mooring lines? One spool of 3-strand and then I can cut it all myself and have extra for anchor road? Buy braid and learn to splice it myself?
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