Chosing dock lines - SailNet Community

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Old 07-11-2003
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Chosing dock lines

I bought a 30'' Cat 2 weeks ago. She''s in a new slip and all the dock lines need to be replaced. I''m looking for suggestions on what type of line (3 strand vs.dbl. braid)and manufacturer. BoatersWorld has some really good prices on Sea Bowld and Defender on Samson. I would like to buy solid color lines if possible. Also, I seem to be right on the edge between needing a 1/2" and a 5/8". She''s docked in a secluded slip in central Florida. We do get some pretty nasty storms here and have tides to deal with
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

Three-strand nylon is supposed to be the best for dock & anchor lines because it stretches more, "cushioning" the effects of waves and wakes on your cleats. If the heavier line fits on your cleats and in your chocks, you''ll have less to worry about in the next big storm. The issue in storms isn''t usually the strength of the line - you could probably find a half-inch line of some super-fiber that could lift your boat entirely out of the water - the issue is chafe. The boat''s motion rubs the line until it wears through. A bigger line not only takes longer to wear through, but because the diameter is larger, it spreads the load at pressure points over a bigger area and therefore wears down less as well.
Also, BTW, though nylon does degrade less than some other fibers (e.g. Kevlar) in the sun, white should last longer than other colors.
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

Suggest that you consider dacron line (with rubber snubbers applied) instead of nylon. Dacron (3 strand) will better handle the abrasion and will better take the HEAT load of friction through chocks, etc. The snubbers will provide the needed ''stretch'' and lessen the impact loading.

Worm and parcel the areas that go through chocks, etc. - better than rubber hose, leather, or ready-made chafe protectors. Old fashioned worm and parceled chafe protectors will allow moisture to penetrate during a storm - thus cooling the rope at high friction points; rubber etc. will prevent cooling by water and will insulate/trap the heat inside the rope.

Consider doubled lines on most vulnerable directions, etc. Consider a strong ''sissy'' line between you and your neighbors for protection when their boat breaks loose.
Splice every thing - NO knots. Add chafe protection to eye splices that go over pilings. Make sure the adjacent boats next to you have their masts ''out of phase'' with yours - so the masts dont crash together when the boats are ''rollin''.

Hope this helps!
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

Sea Gypsy: My suggestion for docking lines is to use good chafing gear and double the lines. On our 30 foot, 10000# sloop we use doubled 3-strand, 1/2 inch nylon. To minimize jerking we make sure one line is slightly slack and thus is in fresh reserve 95% of the time with no chafe. For appearance and to accommodate the added bulk, lead the lines in parallel fashion about the cleats. It works for us. Regards, George
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

Thank you for all the good advice. I''m trying to gather everything up to be ready for hurricane season.

Any recommendations on the brand? I see West Marine has New England at a pretty high price. Defender has Samson which seem to be reasonable and Boatersworld the cheapest. Does it make any difference?
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

1/2 inch 3 stranded nylon is the only way to go. 5/8 inch would be too stiff for your boat. Don''t buy the black stuff! People who use black dock lines should be keel hauled! Plain white should be the standard. The problem at most marinas is that it''s difficult to make the standing part long enough for the elastic action of the nylon to have a good cushioning effect. As a rule of thumb, I try not to have any dock lines running shorter then the length of the beam of the boat from chock to dock cleat. In your case, about 10 feet minimum should be fine. You may be able to get away with running your lines to the far side of the dock. For chafe, I''ve had great success with putting a piece of vinal hosing over the line at the nibs. For your boat, I''d recommend three lines at 30 feet and at least one at 50 feet. Make large eyes, about a foot in diameter on one end of each line. Sear and whip the other ends.

I remember one year when a friend of mine had tied his beautiful 30 foot wooden boat to the dock for the winter. One of the lines he used was a 1 inch piece of dacron that ran from his sheet winch to a commercial cleat on the dock about 1 foot away. The first southerly came through and turned the harbor into a boiling pot. The sheet winch was RIPPED CLEAN OFF THE BOAT!
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Old 07-12-2003
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Chosing dock lines

I suggest going with the 5/8" New England 3 strand Nylon. I just went through this last year and ended up finding that at the time SailNet had the best price on New England rope when purchased in bulk. I agree with several points that were above and disagree with others.

I disagree with using Dacron line in Florida as it is much more prone to UV degrading. That said Rich H is correct that dacron is more chafe resistant. One quick chafe gear approach is to buy a couple yards of dacron braided line one or two sizes larger than the three strand line. Remove the core and thread that over the nylon three strand at chafe areas. Pull the ends of the dacron cover and stitch it to the three strand.It works as well parceling but does not separate at a point of chafe as parceling will sometimes do on modern line. (By the way I also do this in my halyards to improve grip in the rope clutches and minimize wear. I go through several covers before the halyard is worn out.)

-I like to use splices on the boat but clove hitches with several extra bights and a double half hitch on the piling to reduce chafe on the piling and to allow me to adjust the line quickly.

- I set the boat''s docklines for "normal conditions" and mark the lines with a laundry pen, and also have a setting for storm conditions that is marked with a laundry pen. It makes switching gears much easier and quicker. My spare lines are similarly marked but only for storm conditions. I double my lines when a ''big one'' is expected and as suggested have one line tighter than the other so there is a reserve line should one part.

-Don''t be afraid to make your lines a little longer than you think you need.

That''s about it.

Jeff
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