From pop-up to pull-up, there are myriad varieties of retractable cleats available to upgrade your boat’s hardware, but there are features that make a difference. We called the inventor of the pop-up cleat, Accon Marine, to get the scoop.
1. Size Matters
Get a cleat that is designated to handle a dock line big enough for your boat. Undersize cleats can create unsafe tie-ups and provide less convenience.
2. Use Real Steel
Make sure the cleat is made out of 316L stainless steel. A lower quality alloy will pit and/or rust over time. Fatigued steel won’t hold a line as well, and the rust could stain your boat’s finish.
3. Score Style Points
As the popularity of these cleats has increased, so have the available styles. Look at where you want to install them to determine if a surface-mount or flush-mount version will be best suited to your application.
4. Look Out Below
Before cutting into your deck, make sure there is space underneath for the assembly to properly function. If a cleat can’t pull or pop up and retract smoothly, it won’t do you much good.
5. We Need Backup
The cleat assembly should come with a backing plate, and you should be able to access the underside of the deck so you can tighten the backing nuts. Ideally, the nuts should be a locking style so they’ll hold without coming loose.
6. Stay Dry
Retractable cleats should come with a water-catching cup and drain hose that leads to the bilge or a small through-hull to a self-bailing deck. The assemblies aren’t watertight, and you don’t want water randomly dripping into sections of the cabin or other areas beneath the fitting.
7. Provide for Heavy Lifting
If you plan to lift the boat by the cleat, buy one designated for this purpose. Manufacturers designate such cleats as lifting models.