How To Choose The Right Dock Line

Keep your boat safe and secure with these tips

Dock lines are essential to keep your boat safe and secure, but for many boaters the decision probably comes down to price…or color. Educate yourself about the best materials and sizes to choose the right dock line for your boat and docking scenario.

Select The Best Material

Shoreline Marine Double Braided Nylon Dock Line
Double-braid line is soft, easy to coil and comes in lots of colors to match your boat. Just be careful around pilings as that fine weave can easily snag.Courtesy Amazon

Polypropylene line (typically bright yellow in color) may be common and cheap, but it degrades rapidly from UV exposure and wear. Dacron lines quickly grow stiff. Nylon is the better choice as it resists sun, fuel and chemical damage and offers enough stretch to provide some degree of shock absorption.

Consider Diameter and Length

Rainier Supply Co Dock Lines
Want custom-sized lines for your home slip? Just remember to take into account any tidal changes or anticipated changes in water level.Courtesy Amazone

Larger diameter line is often stronger, but won’t provide as much cushion when pulled taut on a rough afternoon at the dock. Your boat’s cleat size also dictates just how big a diameter line will fit properly. Boating experts suggest this rule of thumb: an 1/8-inch in diameter for every 2 inches of cleat length.

As to line length, bow and stern lines should be half the length of the boat, a spring line capable of stretching the whole length of your vessel.

Look At Convenient Alternatives

Airhead AHDL-4 Bungee Dockline
Bungee-style dock lines frequently feature foam floats, primarily to protect the hull from line chafing.Courtesy Amazon

For a temporary dock situation with a small boat (under 4,000 pounds) and little water-level fluctuation, bungee-style dock lines are a convenient alternative. The bungee cord wrapped inside provides about 1 1/2-feet of stretch and shock absorption.