Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
When I am cruising I carry a minimum of four lines with eyesplices in the ends that are the length of the boat that I use as breast lines and 4 lines which are the length of the boat plus 20 feet (two with eyesplices and two without)which I use as spring lines. These are longer than normally recommended but my experience when cruising is that I often end up in a longer slip than my boat plus it also requires roughly 11-12 feet just for the knot tied to a piling (clove hitch with lock knot). For what it is worth, I do not have mid-ship cleats so the spring lines typically run the length of the boat.
I strongly prefer a premium quality three strand nylon for its greater stretch that absorbs shock loads more gently reducing wear and tear on the boat, line, and its crew. In my experience three strand lasts much longer than double braid since the covers on double braid seem to abrade through (even with chafe gear) much quicker than the wear that three-stand can absorb. (In the same slip and the same boat, I got 16 seasons out of my last three-strand nylon permanent lines that replaced a 3 season old set of double braid that had enough chafe to be questionable.) I also carry patches of heavy ballistic nylon chafe gear that I tie onto the line at chafe points with light line if I expect to be tied up for a while.
As far as diameter, for my permanent lines at my slip, I use the next size larger diameter line that has a breaking strength greater than the displacement of my boat. With a 10,500 lb displacement boat those turn out to be 5/8" diameter. For my 'traveling' dock lines, I use the next size smaller diameter line with a breaking strength less than the displacement of my boat and those turn out to be 1/2" diameter.
When I have replaced all of my traveling lines (new boat) I bought enough three-strand to get the bulk discount and then spent a winter afternoon splicing all 6 of them with eyesplices and whipping the ends of all them.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay