How To Tie Boat To Dock?

How To Tie Boat To Dock?

If you are a boater, something you need to know is how to tie your boat to a dock. You need to be able to do this both securely as well as efficiently.

If you know how to do this properly you will be able to save a lot of time and ensure that your boat is properly protected.

This guide will give you all the information you need to know on how to secure your boat and everything related to this. So, if you are unsure you know how to tie your boat to dock properly and want some detailed guidance keep reading!

What You Will Need?

Before knowing exactly how to tie your boat to dock, you need to know all the gear you will need. Luckily most of the supplies are quite easy to come across and you should not struggle to find them.

The first thing you will need are boat cleats. These are simple to use and perfect for securing your lines. They are T shaped pieces that are usually made from steel or polymers.

Some boats have them already attached, however, you can also manually attach them yourself. Make sure you have enough cleats to be able to secure your boat from either side when docking.

You want at least three cleats on each side. You will also need bumpers, these protect your boat while they are in the dock. It saves you from getting any scratches or dents in the fiberglass.

They are usually made from foam or rubber and attach to the side of the boat. The exact amount you need depends on your boat’s size. And of course, you will need sturdy ropes to keep your boat attached with sufficient line.

You want to try and find nylon rope which is flexible and also absorbs a good amount of energy. It is also easily available and not too expensive!

How To Tie Your Boat To A Dock?

When it comes to knowing exactly how to tie your boat, you want to know the steps to follow, but also the factors to consider when going in.

After reading this guide we strongly recommend practicing the knots we recommend as this is something you will need to know how to do efficiently.

But make sure to read over the guide a few times so you will know what to do when it comes to docking your boat in a practical setting.

Prepare The Boat

It is important to carry a screwdriver when you are sailing so you can resecure your cleats if you think they might be loose.

Of course, loose cleats can severely compromise the security of your boat. Before docking you want the lines to be tied onto the cleats and ensure that the ropes are easily organized and not tangled.

You do not want to be untangling ropes while docking. Then you also want to drop your bumpers to absorb the impact of docking.

Set Up Your Dock Lines

Set Up Your Dock Lines

There are three dock lines you want to set up and these have their own configuration. There is the bow line that comes from the port or the starboard side of the cleat.

Then the spring line comes from the side of the boat and is between the bow and the stern. And then the stern line comes from the port or the starboard side of your stern.

If you are docking in a slip, you can also dock the boat on both sides for extra security as well. You can also dock in a breast line in emergencies or if you are only docking quickly, but this is not preferable.

Tie The Dock Lines

Once you are sure you know what dock lines you are using, you can toss the ropes to the dock, of course try and avoid throwing the ropes in the water as they can get caught in awkward spots.

Toss to someone on the dock so they can easily adjust the position, tie the bow line first, then the spring line at an angle away from the bow, and then the stern line on a cleat that is behind the stern. Make sure every line is angled to let the boat move with the waves.

Types Of Knot To Use

There are three different types of knots that are important to know how to use when it comes to tying your boat to the dock. You can use the normal cleat knot, however this is best for when working with a complex rope or temporary docking.

A complex cleat knot is preferable for when docking for longer amounts of time and it can be used on all dock lines.

If the dock has pilings instead of a cleat, you will need to know how to do the clove knot, so make sure you practice all three of these knots since they will all be useful in different situations!

What To Keep In Mind?

One of the main considerations you want to make when docking is the weather conditions. You will need to adjust the angles of your dock lines depending on the weather conditions.

For example moving them in adjustment to the movement of the wind. You will also want to keep in mind how the water levels will change, some docks will change drastically based on the tide so keep this in mind!

Also, try to consider how long you will be staying at the dock, if you are staying for longer you might want to add some more spring line or breast line to give you extra security!


Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need to safely tie your boat to dock.

If you have struggled with understanding this advice, we recommend using a video guide or talking to a friend or professional who has expertise in the area who can give you specific advice based on the boat that you are working with!

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