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Closet Powerboater
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So the dock lines that came with my boat are so old, large, stiff, and crustified that I could probably use them to fend OFF if necessary. They're a bear to use and barely fit through our fairleads. I think I'm going to break with my tradition of line use which is: Halyard becomes, sheet becomes, dockline, becomes, fender line.

I think it's time to treat ourselves to new lines for our docklines. The question though is, what size? We're quite a bit larger than my last boat and weigh in at about 30K pounds. Some of our lines creak and squeak when it's windy, which is something I'd like to avoid.

If they're oversized do they still creak or is it just the small ones? How about 3 strand vs 8plat? Suggestions?

MedSailor
 

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3 strand seems to hold up better esp when dealing with rough surfaces.

i have a 8 k 27 foot boat and use 3/8 but i keep 1/2 on board too for storm stuff. you might want the same thing but up a step, use 1/2 for normal stuff and 5/8 or 3/4 for heavy weather.

you also need to realize that even you boat wont easily be able to break 3/8 but its chaff that gets you in the end. you might better off with 1/2 and spending the extra on chaff gear

3/8 breaking is around 4400
1/2 is 7500
new england ropes
 

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Coastal Traveler
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I've got 1/2" and 5/8" on my boat. I use the 1/2" for everyday docking, and the 5/8" for storms. for a boat of that displacement, I wouldn't go any smaller than 5/8".

Dave
 

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Let me suggest we think about this a bit differently. Look at the configuration of the boat in the dock and imagine the tension on the docking lines as the wind comes from all quarters. What do you want the lines to do? My stern lines on my 40 footer are 3/4 inch because of the chafe on the dock cleats and because if the stern moves it could impact my neighbor. My bow lines are 1/2 inch 3 strand ( so what if the bow moves laterally in the dock) and the spring lines holding me off the dock are 5/8 double braid. More than a couple of feet and I'm on the dock. Hope this helps.
 

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Good points. I always found that the best thing to do was to spend a few days...

Let me suggest we think about this a bit differently. Look at the configuration of the boat in the dock and imagine the tension on the docking lines as the wind comes from all quarters. What do you want the lines to do? My stern lines on my 40 footer are 3/4 inch because of the chafe on the dock cleats and because if the stern moves it could impact my neighbor. My bow lines are 1/2 inch 3 strand ( so what if the bow moves laterally in the dock) and the spring lines holding me off the dock are 5/8 double braid. More than a couple of feet and I'm on the dock. Hope this helps.
on the boat, through all of the tides and wind directions helps. You get a feel for how it moves, both at home, and at other docks. When I got my new cat, which JUST fits the slip, I had to learn new tricks.

Regarding squeaking, using hollow nylon webbing (rock climbing stuff, BlueWater 2" Climb-Spec Tubular Webbing at REI.com) over the line cuts the squeaking best. My stern line passes right over my berth, making me an expert on silencing line squeak, at least on my boat!
 

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thanks to all for the information here ... reading with interest as I need to replace them as well ...
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter #7
on the boat, through all of the tides and wind directions helps. You get a feel for how it moves, both at home, and at other docks. When I got my new cat, which JUST fits the slip, I had to learn new tricks.

Regarding squeaking, using hollow nylon webbing (rock climbing stuff, BlueWater 2" Climb-Spec Tubular Webbing at REI.com) over the line cuts the squeaking best. My stern line passes right over my berth, making me an expert on silencing line squeak, at least on my boat!
My last boat came with dynamic climbing rope as docklines. They didn't squeak if I recall (though none of the lines did) but they were stiff as boards. How long have you had your climbing rope on the boat and are they still supple?

MedSailor
 

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I use the webbing over conventional double braid dock lines....

So I do not know the answer.

I believe the answer lies in the fact that climbing ropes are not designed to be very UV resistant, and the the cover gets very stiff when exposed to sun. The ropes are for a different purpose. They are designed to endure horrendous shock loads, knot and release easily, slide smoothly over rough surfaces, and then be retired young.

However, I have used dynamic line for anchoring (17 years for the oldest one) and have not found it to stiffen at all. It still has a very easy hand and good stretch. Only the very end - kept in the sun - got stiff, so I cut it back a few times. It is the sun.

So, the outside of the webbing will get faded, but the inside will stay nice and slippery.

Also, climbing ropes and ropes for use in a windlass are opposites: a climbing rope is designed NOT to grab on roughness, a good anchor rode (for windlass use) MUST grab in the gypsy. I've got to believe that octaplait would be a nightmare on the local crag.
 

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Nylon is the material of choice for docklines, because the stretchiness it has cushions the shock(s) of waves against the boat and dock. That's why your anchor line is probably nylon as well. (Though in the Med, people tend to like chain better.) Braid was developed partly in order to reduce stretch, so...3-strand or other twisted line would seem to be indicated. For a boat as big (and HEAVY) as yours, 1" nylon docklines (25mm) might be a bit light. 30mm or more might be better. Even if the bigger stuff is overkill on the strength end of the equation, it gives you a safety margin in the inevitable event of chafe, so you won't have to replace it for a longer time.
 

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"If you don't know your fish, know your fishman."

The West Marine catalog has a chart showing line types, brands and recommended applications. A well qualified opinion in a quick and easy format.
 

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Telstar 28
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Webbing versus Rope

First, webbing isn't as strong as rope generally. While some companies, notably Ankarolina, tout their webbing as being as strong as 1" diameter rope, I'd point out that the breaking strength of their webbing is about equal to the WORKING strength of the 1" rope and has no safety margin factored in. Also, webbing is far more susceptible to chafe.

Cleat Size

Before considering what size docklines to use, it might be wise to consider the cleats that the docklines are going to go to. The rule of thumb for cleats is that they should be SIXTEEN times the diameter of the lines normally used on them. This will generally allow you to use TWO docklines or ropes on each cleat without problem.

If you plan on using 5/8" line for the docklines, you probably should have 10" cleats... and if you use 3/4" docklines, 12" cleats are a good idea.

Type of Rope

Using old halyards for docklines is generally a really stupid idea IMHO. Halyards require different stretch characteristics than do dock or mooring lines, and are generally made of the wrong materials to be good docklines.

Most halyards are polyester double braids, and after being used are going to be weaker than nylon lines of the same diameter. They will also be far less elastic, and provide less shock absorption, putting a greater shock load on the deck hardware in a storm.

Again, IMHO, it is pretty stupid and penny-wise, pound-foolish to skimp on docklines. Like ground tackle, the docklines are often what you're depending on to keep your boat safe in bad weather. A good nylon rope is what you want for docklines generally.

Docklines can be one of three flavors....

Double braid are the strongest, but have the most trouble with rough pilings and such, since the splinters and such tend to pick the fine strands apart. They also have the least stretch. However, they don't hockle or twist as easily as three strand, so may be the best overall dockline for general use.

Three strand lines do better with rough pilings and such. However, three-strand lines are far more prone to hockling and kinking. They do have better stretch characteristics than double braids.
Octo-plait or twelve-plait has the best elasticity of the three types of docklines, but are fairly rare and a bit more expensive from what I've seen. It does stow more compactly than three-strand line, and has some of the better characteristics of both three-strand and double braid. Like a double braid, it doesn't tend to hockle or kink. Like a three-strand, it handles rough pilings fairly well and stretches fairly well.

Chafe Protection

Woven chafe protection sleeves, like tubular webbing, are by far the best form of chafe protection IMHO. While not as durable as vinyl, plastic or rubber hose, it allows water through to cool and lubricate the docklines. One of the most common forms of line failure is due to internal friction and heat melting the line and causing it to fail. This is generally exacerbated by hose type chafe protection, since they trap the heat and prevent the water from getting to the line. Spectra or dyneema chafe sleeves are probably almost as durable, if not more so, than the hose chafe protection, yet allow the heat to escape and the water in.

Sizing the line

Going slightly oversized on docklines is a good idea. Don't make the docklines too thick, since they will be harder to handle and not provide the elasticity and shock absorption that is really ideal in a good dockline.

Yours is a big boat, and 1" lines aren't unreasonable. A 1" three-strand nylon line has a breaking strength of somewhere around 29000 lbs. Your boat weighs 30000 lbs... and if you factor in shock-loading during a storm, 1" lines are pretty close to the minimum I'd recommend for it. That also means you need at least 16" cleats. :)

Snubbers

If the docklines are properly sized and protected from chafe, snubbers really aren't necessary IMHO.
 

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Coastal Traveler
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You know, SD, You always have the best answers on the forums. If you haven't done so yet, You really ought to write a book or two. Your knowledge and the way you express that knowledge is always top notch. Thanks for the correct information.

Dave
 

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I think SD already has with all his postings. I will buy one as I like the way he explains things. See you at the Annapolis sail boat show SD, and bring your book I want an autograph. Al
 

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Webbing versus Rope
reading and concurring ...

Thanks SD ...

I'm rather new to all this (I have some sailing experience but many many moons ago and basically as ballast) ...

I read your posts and learn ... find them very insightful ...

Just purchased a Cal 28 and am doing a refurbish job (hopefully structurally minor and cosmetic) ... plan on downsizing my footprint and speading ALOT of time aboard as well as much sailing ... with an eye towards cruising in 3-4 years ...

Again ... thanks for all the knowledge and experience you share so freely here
 

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I have 5/8 for a 15000 pound boat. I dont think I would ever lose sleep from having too big a dockline. Too small, on the other hand ....
 

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Telstar 28
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Too large a dock line can put excessive strain on the deck hardware, unless it has been upsized to deal with the larger docklines. Also, nylon ropes don't stretch very much until a certain amount of load has been put on them, and if the dock lines are too large, they never reach that point.
I have 5/8 for a 15000 pound boat. I dont think I would ever lose sleep from having too big a dockline. Too small, on the other hand ....

PS.. Thanks guys... glad to help out. :)
 
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