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Old 19-12-2012, 10:31   #1
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How Tight do you Tie Your Docklines?

To minimize chafe on dock lines in breezy conditions (or generally), do you tie the lines relatively tight so that the boat sits close to the dock and has less room to move back and forth, or do you tie the lines a bit more slack so that there is more room to move? This is with galvanized metal cleats at the dock.

Some more context for this question: I recently replaced my dock lines with what is supposed to be pretty high-end Samson nylon 3-strand. I had 3-strand lines previously. After about six breezy weeks in the Pacific Northwest, the new Samson lines are showing considerable chafe. The old lines, also nylon 3-strand, are at least a few years old, and through the spring, summer, and fall -- with a fair number of windy days -- they didn't chafe nearly as much as the new lines did in six weeks. The key difference is that I've been tying the boat (a Catalina 36) quite a bit farther from the dock, which (I think) makes for easier sleeping in windy conditions.

I'm trying to figure out of the new chafe is due to crappy line or the way I've been tying it. Either way, there's enough chafe that I probably now have to spend another $100 on dockline. Should I go double-braid this time?
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Old 19-12-2012, 10:48   #2
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

i like the lines tied so as not to have jerking or tugging on them, as that is a cause of breakage.
when i am in a marina, mine are not loose nor tight--tight is not comfortable and on my boat causes much chafe. my formosa likes to run in a circle, and if that is impeded, i have loss of lines due to chafe.
some folks like to tie tight, saying this keeps chafe down, but it doesnt work that way for my boat.
i also use chafe gear--leather or firehose or denim, depending on what is available when i tie her to a dock.
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Old 19-12-2012, 10:58   #3
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

I have lines tied firm with a snubber on the inside bow and stern to help take the shock, the second opposite side bow has a small amount of slack for windage but offers almost no play or long movement. Spring lines fore and aft actually have some hang time if you will before they tense up due to forced movement from wave and wind. I do use the double braid samson and this will be the third season of use.
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:04   #4
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Boat-length springs are tight. Winch tightened. No slack ever. Fore and aft lines not so tight, have slack. I run the springs straight from the dock cleat to the boat's cleat, winch or rail. The chocks are the chafe problem. If the stretchy line does not turn thru a chock or anything it lasts for years.

Best if there is something on the other side of the boat to hold her off the dock. The other finger, a piling, even an anchor .... I have run a long line out past the neighboring boat to her finger (with permission).
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:04   #5
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

You can tie up to hold the boat in one place by having no slack in the lines, but use as much line as you can. This is accomplished by having more horizontal than vertical deployment. When you are done, the vertical distance from the boat's cleat to the dock should be about 25% of the horizontal distance between the boat and dock cleats. This allows for the boat to move up and down, but limits horizontal movement.
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:26   #6
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Obviously it's different for a particular situation, but with my boat's very straight sides, I tie very snug with no movement if at all possible.
The boat's light to begin with and with less movement, the docklines last longer.

The dufus who hit us (another thread) had previously kept his 30 foot Reinell powerboat tied to is dock so loosely that it broke a two foot section of his 2 x 4 bull rail during a nighttime blow.
He had no clue of how to tie it up in the first place, as it had a loose bow line and a loose stern line with NO spring lines at all.
At 6 AM we discovered it was pointing sideways in the canal held in place only by the stern line, so we enlisted a neighbor's help to tie it up with our donated lines.
He never said thanks, neither did he return our lines.
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Old 19-12-2012, 11:53   #7
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
He never said thanks, neither did he return our lines.
My psychic powers tell me that he's going to have another similar incident in the near future, only this time his boat will leave your basin without touching anyone else at all.

Funny thing, psychic powers.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:10   #8
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Not real loose, not too tight. If they are chafing that fast, take a look at where and see if rerouting them or providing chafe protection will help. I've even just used cheap clear plastic tubing before. In the PNW you could have no wind, tide current, or 60 MPH gusts this time of year. While living aboard in Seattle I eventually used the big black rubber snubbers you put in your lines and they are great.
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Old 19-12-2012, 12:27   #9
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Not real loose, not too tight. If they are chafing that fast, take a look at where and see if rerouting them or providing chafe protection will help. I've even just used cheap clear plastic tubing before. In the PNW you could have no wind, tide current, or 60 MPH gusts this time of year. While living aboard in Seattle I eventually used the big black rubber snubbers you put in your lines and they are great.
+1
Even the black rubber bungee cords can be incorporated. I have a river estuary to deal with. Sometimes it's so strong it will push boats rounding the marina inlet right into the pilings.

It's entertainment when the tide running just to watch the boats as they round the turn.
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Old 19-12-2012, 13:28   #10
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Re: How tight do you tie your docklines?

Also, if you have limited free-board, keep the pointy end toward the weather. Especially if you are at a very poorly protected marina.

Further details are here . . . .
Pacific Northwest Boating News: Two boats sink at Kirkland Marina | Three Sheets Northwest
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Old 19-12-2012, 13:51   #11
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Re: How Tight do you Tie Your Docklines?

We're not in a permanant slip and our strategy changes with the situation. We tie with less slack with floating docks, no tide or, as now, with harsh cement on two sides. Attention must be paid to the lead. Sometimes lines will bend around a sharp corner that should be avoided or against a cement or rock face. I've tied to strong cleats that were through bolted to boards that were nailed to the dock beams and had boards with nail spikes flying about in a storm. I do better tying to a large diameter piling than a cleat in order to extend the life of my line. I like the three-strand nylon for stretch and shock load absorption when I need to tie tighter. Right now I'm in a place with a lot of fetch to the NE and cement to the SW, so I'm tighter to the NE and using eleven dock lines. I rarely buy docklines. Most often, I cut up my older secondary 300' (5/8") anchor rode for dockline and buy a new anchor rode.
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Old 19-12-2012, 14:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle
Boat-length springs are tight. Winch tightened. No slack ever. Fore and aft lines not so tight, have slack. I run the springs straight from the dock cleat to the boat's cleat, winch or rail. The chocks are the chafe problem. If the stretchy line does not turn thru a chock or anything it lasts for years.

Best if there is something on the other side of the boat to hold her off the dock. The other finger, a piling, even an anchor .... I have run a long line out past the neighboring boat to her finger (with permission).
I totally agree but would add that springs need to be as long as possible. In addition, I leave bow and stern shore lines slack so they only go tight as a last resort before the bow or stern are pulled around towards the pontoon. It is always the bow or stern shore line that snatches never a long spring.
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Old 19-12-2012, 17:02   #13
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Re: How Tight do you Tie Your Docklines?

Obviously, the longer the line in play, the less impact tide will have on the tension. I try to secure the line to the piling, if that is an option, at cleat level of the boat at mid tide.

I need to replace my docklines at 10 years because they seem to have lost their resiliance, I would call it. Everytime now that I secure the boat (floating dock, so I take all slack out of the docklines) after some time away from the dock, if I check the boat a few days later, the docklines are all loose. First few times I cussed the SOB who was slackening my lines, but then I realized it had to be the lines. Evidently, they lose the ability to quickly "retract" after being stretched.

Anyway, they have lasted 10 years with little chafe, but there's not much to chafe on.
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Old 19-12-2012, 17:06   #14
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Re: How Tight do you Tie Your Docklines?

In your slip, are you being blown off the dock or onto the dock?
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Old 19-12-2012, 19:00   #15
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Re: How Tight do you Tie Your Docklines?

Thanks all for the responses so far!

I am on a floating dock that rises and falls with the tide, but it's heavy concrete and we're well-protected behind a seawall, so it doesn't move much otherwise.

In the winter, prevailing winds from the south blow me off the dock.

My marina is well-protected from waves but not really at all protected from the wind. For those around Seattle, I'm in Elliott Bay Marina.
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