The Joys of Docking a Boat

The Joys of Docking a Boat

Docking any boat can be at the best of times, problematical. If there is no one on the dock to catch your lines, you are left to your own devices, and your wife’s athletic ability. (Hopefully you will have a crewman on board that recently worked at the Cirque du Soleil, and is an accomplished aerialist.)

So where do we start?
I guess you could say the obvious would be to make sure the dock lines are untangled and splayed out on deck adjacent to the cleat, fenders, and fender boards. Hopefully though the dock lines will already be attached to the pilings. Next come the fenders and fender boards. Fender boards are typically used to prevent damage to the hull when the boat is slammed up against a piling because it’s loosely tied up. Tie the fender board off to a lifeline letting them hang about half way down the hull. Make sure the fender boards set against the fenders, and not the other way around. Next, using a gaff, reach out over the bow and grab onto the bowline and hopefully a spring line. Tie the bowline off to the bow cleat (makes sense) and the spring line to an amidships cleat. Repeat the process for the stern tie up only in reverse. Note: Some skippers use an aft spring line as well as a forward one depending on the weather. Leave enough slack in the lines so the boat will sit in the middle of the slip after all lines have been tied off. Now for the port side. Repeat the process all over again. Time – 10 minutes and that’s a gift considering that someone hasn’t just fallen overboard.

A word about chaffed dock lines!
First of all they love to chafe and break. You will want to use chafing gear positioned where the line comes in contact with any part of the boat. The best material to use is unprocessed leather, which can be obtained at most boating supply stores. Time 15 minutes and counting! But wait, you’re not done yet. You still have to get you, your family and guest off the boat. Since the boat is tied up “loosely” in the middle of the slip someone will have to be on the dock holding on tight so the boat doesn’t drift off. Not too much of a problem in quiet weather. However, on windy days, this usually turns into a circus.

Ok you’re all done! Nope, not a chance.
The boat is sitting crooked in the slip and the stern is only a couple of inches off the piling. Back aboard, ease off the port stern line and tighten the starboard line. Re set the spring lines so that they too are equal. Now the bowlines are out of alignment so they have to be readjusted. Time, 20 minutes. If you’re lucky! Did you account for the tidal changes? Did you tie up the boat at mid tide? Is there enough slack in the lines to allow for low tide? There’s nothing worse than coming down to the boat to find only the cleats dangling off their lines. Don’t think that hasn’t happened. It has.

The other problem with traditional docking is when nasty weather kicks up. The cry goes out “double up all lines.” So back aboard you go adding more lines and trying to out guess the height of a potential storm surge. So what’s wrong with this picture? After all we’ve been doing this since the dawn of time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing time after time and expecting different results. So here comes this wacky idea called SlideMoor. It only needs two short lines. The boat is tied up tight to a bumper attached to an aluminum extrusion, which slides up and down on an aluminum track. Simple – No spring lines, bowlines, stern lines, bumpers, fenders, etc. to mess with. The boat is tied tight to the dock so getting on and off the boat is a breeze. Occam’s Razor – All things being equal, the best solution tends to be the simplest one. Conclusion? SlideMoor is a very simple solution to dock a boat.

Jesse Pariseau

Jesse Pariseau

Director of Marketing & Sales at SlideMoor
I have been in the marine business since 1974. I have a BSEE from Northeastern University, specializing in Marine Sciences Instrumentation. I've been an active offshore sailor for most of my adult life having sailed a couple of Whitbread legs and way too many Bermuda races to mention!
Jesse Pariseau

One thought on “The Joys of Docking a Boat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *