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There might be a bit of confusion in terminology here.
When I had trouble docking, I retrofitted amidship cleats on my Viking 33. Mounted on cambered and Cetol'd teak blocks I made up in the club woodshop, I through-bolted these through the cored deck and 1/4" backing plates using the Don Casey method of keeping the water out of the boat (Maine Sail would approve of my work, I'm sure!)
The reason for the retrofit? This allowed me to take a "breast line" from this particular cleat athwart the CE of the boat (think "fulcrum") and run from the tiller and over the lifelines to the dock, with one hand, and the other hand for the boat. (This hand along has typically a boat hook held by my pinkie, but I don't bother if I'm being blown on).
If you throw this line around the bollard on the dock, and use the hook to snag the stern line you've presciently looped under the pushpit and over the lifeline, you can stop the boat and cleat off the bow line at your leisure.
The confusion arises because while the breast line, or amidships line, can act as a "spring", a spring line will typically run fore and aft from a midship cleat to intermediate cleats on the dock or all the way to the bow and stern cleats or bollards. The purpose of one is simply to keep the boat close to the dock, while the purpose of the springs is to act a bit like shock absorbers or snubbers and to insure fore and aft motion at dock is kept to a minimum.
My "full dock line" set-up for my steel cruiser consists of two 3/4" bow lines to the dock, two 3/4" stern lines, one 3/4" spring foreward and one aft, and a "hail mary" breast line doubled over to the amidship bollard on deck. The springs, bow and stern lines have chafe gear and I have five fenders out.
That's what I do if it's blowing 35-45 knots at the dock, which is the most I've seen in Toronto except for a few 55-65 knots squalls in the summer, which tend to last 20 minutes at most.
If I'm tying up for lunch, however, on a fair weather day, it's one bow, one stern and one doubled breast line, which is the last line I release when we leave.
Can't sleep? Read my countdown to voyaging blog @
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