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Old 21-09-2017, 12:28   #1
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How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

We are purchasing a canal front home in Punta Gorda, Florida, which has a 50' dock for our 42' LOA sailboat. The dock is oriented due East-West. The prevailing strong winter winds are NNW to NNE and can blow at 15 to 25 knots for days at a time.

The dock has many strong cleats and will have a solid concrete 10" diameter piling every 8-feet so the boat will be well secured on one side. But, the prevailing winds November - April will always be pushing the boat onto the dock and pilings.

We do have very sturdy and well tested fender boards and fenders for the leeward side of the boat.

I can have two pilings placed 24' from the seawall which would be 4' outboard of our boat's maximum beam. Tying to those pilings would secure the boat on the windward side and keep it from being pushed into the pilings.

I'd like to hear from other boat owners who have a similar dock arrangement where the boat is well secured but only on the leeward side.

Do I need to place those two windward pilings?
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:33   #2
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

I see many motor boats with the fishing-rod looking elastic poles. Would that work?
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:34   #3
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

I can't see anything else being as robust and effective.
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:39   #4
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

We live in Punta Gorda. I'm pretty sure those outside pilings you spoke about are called "dolphins". You might want to check with the city about how far out you can place those in a canal. They are pretty busy right now repairing sea walls but usually they are very helpful about things like dolphins.

Just for your own info, we know quite a few others who don't have dolphins and seem to do fine without them. Have you considered slides? I hope this helps you and welcome to PG. You will love it here, but...ummm...not during hurricane season.
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:40   #5
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
Do I need to place those two windward pilings?
Pretty much. You might call around to the various outfits in your area and see if any are scheduled to do work in your canal anytime soon. Half the cost if not more is the pile driver just getting there. If they combine it with work in the area the cost of two pilings may be lower.

You should check to see if there are any environmental or zoning issues that might prevent you from adding pilings. Varies by municipality and state AFAIK.
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:42   #6
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

Great big fenders!
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:47   #7
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

Place the two windward pilings at the far ends - in line with the bow and stern respectively. If you can put a third in the mid point that would be even better. If nothing else, the far pilings will keep traffic in the canal away from your boat.

If you can have mounting points on the piles that move up and down with the tides (like a floating ring around the pile) then just put breast lines on, one each straight to the near bow or stern. These will hold the boat straight out from the dock. You can put springs to the opposite ends of the boat, but those will allow either end of the boat to move to the dock. Best could be both sets for a total of four mooring lines.

The trick is to get off your boat without swimming after youíve pulled the far mooring lines tight.
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Old 21-09-2017, 12:51   #8
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

I think your boat would be safer with the dolphins, because in the strong puffs, she will heel down, and the fenders, with fender board, will tend to kick up, being lifted by the water. With the dolphins, you can actually warp her off the dock a little bit, and your lines will do the work, with the fenders, etc. as backup. Use chafe gear around the cleats, and around the dolphins, wherever the line can stretch against something rough.

Someone here on CF posted a pic of some sheathed soft shackles he'd made up that allowed him to place more lines on his dock cleats for hurricane Harvey. If you're interested, a CF Google Custom Search should get you there.

Here's the disclaimer: I do not know this for a fact: it is just how it seems to me, that I would feel my boat would be safer.

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Old 21-09-2017, 13:28   #9
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

The City of Punta Gorda will allow pilings to be placed up to 24' to seaward of the seawall. The dock is 8' wide (with pilings on outside) and our boat has a max beam of 12' 10".

The current dock is 30' long but has a 10,000 pound boat lift blocking 15' at the east end. We have contracted to have an additional 30' added to the existing dock. The dock contractors said they can easily drop in two outboard dolphins at the time they build the dock.

I would prefer not to have the dolphins in place because then I can then dock the boat from any angle and direction. But, I also want to have the security of a boat that is well tied to the dock.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:30   #10
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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...I would prefer not to have the dolphins in place because then I can then dock the boat from any angle and direction. But, I also want to have the security of a boat that is well tied to the dock.

Dude, either you install outboard pilings for your originally stated purpose of keeping your boat off the dock, or you donít. If you get the two pilings installed 5 feet or so further forward and back then the length of your boat - 52 feet apart for a 42 foot long boat - you will have plenty of room to enter your berth at an angle from the side. The mooring lines wonít work as well, but should be better than nothing.

That said, putting the pilings in place optimally will mean that you have to back into your berth. Thatís not that hard, is it?

I have a cat, so well spaced props, and we can back into our berth without trouble most times even though we only have 2 feet extra room over our beam. With a side wind and/or current it becomes more exciting as we have to go pretty fast to prevent too much side slip. You definitely get used to it.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:50   #11
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
I see many motor boats with the fishing-rod looking elastic poles. Would that work?
"Dock whips". Would need pretty heavy ones for a 42' sailing vessel, but theoretically an option.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:51   #12
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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Originally Posted by angelfish2 View Post
We live in Punta Gorda. I'm pretty sure those outside pilings you spoke about are called "dolphins". You might want to check with the city about how far out you can place those in a canal. They are pretty busy right now repairing sea walls but usually they are very helpful about things like dolphins.

Just for your own info, we know quite a few others who don't have dolphins and seem to do fine without them. Have you considered slides? I hope this helps you and welcome to PG. You will love it here, but...ummm...not during hurricane season.
Yeah, I used to live in Florida on a canal. I cant imagine the City or nieghbors being very happy about that solution.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:54   #13
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
The City of Punta Gorda will allow pilings to be placed up to 24' to seaward of the seawall. The dock is 8' wide (with pilings on outside) and our boat has a max beam of 12' 10".

The current dock is 30' long but has a 10,000 pound boat lift blocking 15' at the east end. We have contracted to have an additional 30' added to the existing dock. The dock contractors said they can easily drop in two outboard dolphins at the time they build the dock.

I would prefer not to have the dolphins in place because then I can then dock the boat from any angle and direction. But, I also want to have the security of a boat that is well tied to the dock.
Hmmm, thats unexpected.

Nothing beats a good solid dolphin/piling to tie to.

You could put a mooring/anchor to windward instead, but the line might prove to be less obvious than pilings and thus a hazard to others.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:55   #14
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

Very often, water depth, vessel draft, zoning rules regarding dock extension out from the seawall, and lateral property offsets, combine to shape dock configuration. Building my dock out from the seawall a sufficient distance for water depth, and then sidling a wide cat against it, meant that I'd have had to apply for a variance to place outer pilings. I opted not to, mainly for space/maneuverability issues. The prevailing trades here push me against the dock pilings, but in "normal" weather, it's nothing that four dock lines, and heavy fenders can't handle. For tropical storms, I'll be setting two large breast anchors in the muck and kedging out on them to relieve the fenders. Given a choice, I'd always prefer pilings on both sides; it's just not always possible or practical, and lots of folks here have one-sided docking and seem to get by fine.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:59   #15
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Re: How to secure boat to dock on only one side?

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Very often, water depth, vessel draft, zoning rules regarding dock extension out from the seawall and lateral property offsets, combine to shape dock configuration. Building my dock out from the seawall a sufficient distance for water depth, and then sidling a wide cat against it, meant that I'd have had to apply for a variance to place outer pilings. I opted not to, mainly for space/maneuverability issues. The prevailing trades here push me against the dock, but in "normal" weather, it's nothing that four dock lines, and heavy fenders can't handle. For tropical storms, I'll be setting two large breast anchors in the muck and kedging out on them a tad to relieve the fenders. Given a choice, I'd always prefer pilings on both sides; it's just not always possible or practical, and lots of folks here have one-sided docking and seem to get by fine.
Yeah, in theory I could have docked my cat at my home in Florida, but I would have been aground on both hulls at low tide, plenty water in the middle though, and able to walk across the deck to my cross canal neighbor. Im sure the neighbors would have been thrilled.
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