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Old 03-05-2006, 08:24   #1
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Stupid Cleat Question

Or should that be "stupid question about cleats?"

This may come down to a matter of personal preference, but my view is that this is a safety issue....

When docking at our new slip some neighbors assisted with docklines. Later while adjusting the lines to center the boat, I found that one of the lines had its bitter end passed through the closed chock formed in the center of the cleat. This of course required that I pass (almost) the entire line through to release it, rather than being able to simply unwrap the 'figure eights' from the horns.

I pointed out to my mate that I feel strongly that this can be a safety issue, especially when having to slip (or 'check') a line under tension or release / retrieve the line quickly. The ONLY time I use the center chock of the cleat is when I pass an eye splice loop through and hook it over one or both horns. This can be released quickly and to me is not an issue. I also believe that using the center chock imparts too severe a bend on the line and would increase chafing damage, but perhaps not.

So now I turn to the all-knowing Forum to seek their view. What say ye - use the center chock or not?
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Old 03-05-2006, 09:36   #2
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I really did not think much about this until you mentioned it. The standard is to run the eye loop through as you are doing. But as you pointed out, you cannot prevent chaft at the cleat that way. If this is a problem and it can be in strong winds, you should use good chaft protection and cleat normally.
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Old 03-05-2006, 09:48   #3
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I don't understand the whole picture of how the line was made fast, beyond the bitter end being passed through the center. (And I have to wonder, what do cleat makers CALL the place between the "legs" of a standard horn cleat? If they call the legs legs, would that be the crotch? Seriously?)

If I slip a loop through the center of a cleat and drop it over the horns, I'm usually just doing that for a fast tie-up and not a permanent one, so I'm not looking at chafe. (And, you've got both sides of the loop not just one line going through there.) But the standard way of cleating off a line is standard for one reason: It works. Can't see any advantage to doing it another way, offhand.
On throwing lines free in a hurry, I can do that regardless of the knot. I have this special "make it free fast" tool, aka a damn sharp knife. Even though I was taught long ago never to cut a line unless you MUST, because it's always harder to make them long again.<G>
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Old 03-05-2006, 10:22   #4
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Cleats

For mooring in your berth long term the dock line at the boat end usually has a splice or a bowline. The tock end is attached how ever you want it and is left attached when leaving the dock. Back at the boat end you have a choice of either threading the loop through the center hole in the cleat or putting the loop over the whole part of the cleat. The Power Squadron or other books written by someone from the prairies, instructs you to put the loop through the hole and then around the ends. The theory is the line will not fall off if it is done this way. I do it the cheap and nasty way by just putting the loop around the cleat and no dock lines have come undone since 1979. I use loops in the end because that way the lines are always the correct length when I return.
And if I may use this post to address an off handed scoff by Louis Riel, I do use spring lines, and one of them is the first to be secured when docking.
As for loading a line without a loop on a cleat, the procedure for many is to always go clockwise to start, with one wrap around the bottom to take the strain, then put on figure eights or whatever suits your style from there on.
A line that starts to chaff at the cleats is usually ready for the junk pile anyway. I use my old main and head sail sheets for spring lines, and heavier for the four corners.
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Old 03-05-2006, 11:42   #5
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Agree with Mark's safety assesment

In addition, a proper "cleat hitch" has the line making five, and only five, contact turns on a two-horned cleat. This forms only one figure eight in a hard cleat (versus soft cleat) hitch. Adding any more does nothing to increase the fastness of the line and increases the time that it takes to take it off to say nothing about the mess made as a result.

I noticed in the last 30 years that the USCG and US Navy has exhibited the multiple figure eight piling up of line on chocks and bollards. I had occasion to question the leading bo's'ns mate on a navy vessel regarding this un-seaman like method of piling on the line. His answer was that no modern vessel can get underway quickly anyway and, compared with the time that engineering takes to make ready, the line handlers have all the time in the world. This is certainly not true for us.
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Old 03-05-2006, 12:42   #6
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Interesting - On one point, I don't leave my dock lines behind. Why? Because if I have to dock someplace else, I don't have them.

Aboard the boat, with the cleats, I do create a bowline and pass the loop through the 'crotch' (?) and loop each of the cleat's ears. On the dock, the standard one complete turn (so the line from the boat clamps the line) then the standard cleat hitch (figure 8) with the half hitch layed in alongside the last crossed over part. ::ant pant pant::: what wordiness!!
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Old 03-05-2006, 14:07   #7
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Cleats

I prefer to leave a six foot spring line permanently spliced amidships so I always know it's there when I dock in windy conditions, and that no one has relocated it. Get it tied to the dock as quickly as possible and you have some semblance of control ,regardless.Until you do, you are at the mercy of wind and tide.
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Old 03-05-2006, 15:21   #8
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We have always left a full set dock lines at the dock that his home base dock. They are preset for the boat in typical conditions. This means coming in we just need to get the midships spring on and everything else is there and adjusted. Just loop or tie off at the markings and done. Now this does mean we have to keep a set of lines of the boat for raft-ups or foreign slips. Cost was minimal if you bought the line in a spool and spiced your own eyes.
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Old 03-05-2006, 15:31   #9
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OK so I guess I was not clear in my original description - my apologies.

The shipboard end of the dockline has the eye splice that was passed through the closed chock / crotch / hole in the middle of the bow cleat and hooked around both of the horns. When the bitter end of the line was passed to the dock, it was run through the closed chock / crotch / hole in the middle of the dock cleat and then hitched around the horns.

My belief is that running the bitter end through the dock cleat this way is a hazard for the reasons mentioned. I don't see where running a bitter end through the center chock / hole in any cleat is a good idea - either aboard or dockside. Takes too darn long to release / manage the bight of the line as you pull it all back through.

Sure you can always cut a line in an emergency, or just add throttle and either become the proud new owner of a dock cleat or the sad former owner of a shiny SS boat cleat.

From the posts so far it sounds like common practice with eye splices is to go through the center of the cleat as I do. What about when using the bitter end?

Or does it really matter enough to earn keystrokes here....
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Old 03-05-2006, 15:47   #10
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Mark-
"When the bitter end of the line was passed to the dock, it was run through the closed chock / crotch / hole in the middle of the dock cleat" Apparently you're the only person who has ever seen this. This is one reason why some folks prefer not to throw a line to a stranger, even a well-intentioned one.<G>
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Old 03-05-2006, 17:25   #11
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I've seen this, Mark! You're not alone. I've also seen some pretty odd tie ups on my trip through the Great Lakes and Erie Canal. People would tie up using some sort of "double cleat" that I never really got a chance to analyze. Long story short, you know how you can see the set of two lines side by side when you have done a proper cleat tie up? Well, these folks had two sets of doubles. Thought it was strange.

Also, at the marina I wintered over at, many of the lines went through the cleat's "crotch." Seems people who are docked forever and don't go out use this form of cleating. I used it as well this winter, after being told that several of the cleats in this marina had bent in previous winters, allowing the lines to slip off. I think this is the logic behind putting the bitter end through the "crotch."

EDIT: I should probably add that I'm talking about going through the cleat at the dock... not on the boat. My boat cleats are always used with a spliced dockline and sent through the "crotch" and looped around.
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Old 03-05-2006, 18:18   #12
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Mark

Sorry -- I agree with your statement that when taking the bitter end [non eye spliced] to a cleat IMHO it should never be passed through the middle of the cleat. It should be properly lead so it is clear to the boat and allows for adjustment or release quickly.

Hope that helps
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Old 05-05-2006, 20:21   #13
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Mark

Mark,

In answer to your original question, I think that passing the bitter end through the 'chock' portion of the dock cleat, and then tieing it off in a cleat knot is incorrect for the reasons you listed.

I can see no benefit in such an arrangement, and it has significant detractors.

IMHO.
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