Choosing a dock line for your boat and / or boat may seem simple enough if you are a new owner. When you are first starting out and you are shopping for the necessary accessories, the dock line should be one of the first things you buy. Of course, you can’t tie up anywhere without a dock line. I know the first thing I think about when looking for a dock line is what color I want. Well, there really is a lot more to think about than matching the color of the dock line with the trim on your boat and / or boat. Not only do pier lines come in a variety of colors and sizes, they also come in a variety of strengths and materials.
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The jetty path used when your boat and / or boat is away from its regular slip or dock is called a temporary jetty. One end of the line has an eye that is easy to pass through and a bitter end is used to make adjustments. There are dozens of combinations of diameters and lengths.
The pier line should be made of nylon, a synthetic fiber that has a superior combination of strength and stretch. Nylon is strong (although it shrinks and loses about 10-15% of its strength when wet), durable, and stretches (three-strand nylon stretches up to 16% of its length loaded to 15% of its breaking strength), so it absorbs shocks. Low stretch lines, such as the old worn polyester double braids used for sailing boats running rigging, are less desirable because they transmit shock from the waves, load and loosen your dock kleats and boat deck hardware. There are three main types of rope construction for wharf lines; three strands, double braid and mega braid.
The three-strand line has a knobby finish, is easy to walk on and is the most affordable. The three stands are available in several colors so you can coordinate the color of your dock’s outline to match the color of your trim or canvas.
Double braids are somewhat stronger for certain sizes, have about half the stretch of three strands, and are available in many colors so you can coordinate the color of your dock line to match your trim or canvas color as well.
The mega braid is a 12-strand single braid from New England Ropes, the single braid is very supple and limp, making it easy to pull and handle. Mega braids are often the choice of boats over 70 ‘. It is harder to shrink, so the boater may want to order a custom-sized strap and come in white or black.
The cart below will show you the recommended dock lane diameters. Larger lines will wear longer but will stretch less.
Pier lines up to 27 “- 3/8”
28 ‘- 31’ – 7/16 “wharf lane
32 ‘- 36’ – 1/2 “pier lane
37 ‘- 45’ – 5/8 “wharf lane
Pier lane 46 ‘- 54’ – 3/4 ”
Pier line 55 ‘- 63′ – 7/8 ”
Pier lane 64 ’72’ – 1 ”
Over time, the pier line can appear slightly green and covered with algae, or stiff and gray. If so, it may be time to consider replacing it. It’s also a good idea to keep additional lines on the plane if you find yourself needing additional dock lines or spring lines. If the docking is in between the two boards you may need to use a double bow and a stern line to keep the boat away from both docks.
The spring line runs from the same chain but in the opposite direction. They keep the boat from yawing, and hold it parallel to the dock. While you may not use four rows every time you tie, using forward springs will make your boat sit more safely on the dock.
The length of your pier path depends on the length of your boat.
The bow and stern line should be about two thirds the length of the boat. The spring line, used to keep the boat parallel to the dock should be as long as the boat.
Lines can become damaged when the lines rub on the surface. This is called Chafe. It is unavoidable, but can be reduced by not changing the line angle suddenly and by using abrasion resistant pads, such as skin lengths or hoses, called chafing gears. Even subtle, large radius survaces will abrade nylon and polyester lines over time.
Chafe Keepers provide a sacrificial surface that can take damage without reducing the force of breaking the line. Generally, piers will have eyebolts, rings, or galvanized cleats on which the pier line is quickly created. The type of hardware on the dock or stack determines the best dock line splice type and chafe protection. for example, you may want to have an eye flake around the thimble, and a galvanized shackle when connected to a ring or eyebolt.