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Dock Tying Alternatives

Apr 21, 2021
37
C&C 30 Harrison Township, MI
I would discourage you from using a snap shackle on your mooring lines. Besides the abrasion of metal on metal, it may be inherently dangerous to the hand when attaching and detaching. I can't see the advantage of spending $60-100 plus for a snap shackle for this application. You can buy an adjustable genoa track cleat from garhaurer for only $50 and you don't have to splice anything.
The Genoa sheets use snatch blocks, not cars. I was curious about that, especially for trimming, but the engineer in me saw no mechanical inconsistency with the shape of the rail. I honestly don't remember how it was done on my Catalina 27 because it was so long ago, but just looked at the toe rail and didn't see how a car would work anyway, so stopped questioning.
 
Apr 21, 2021
37
C&C 30 Harrison Township, MI
The Genoa sheets use snatch blocks, not cars. I was curious about that, especially for trimming, but the engineer in me saw no mechanical inconsistency with the shape of the rail. I honestly don't remember how it was done on my Catalina 27 because it was so long ago, but just looked at the toe rail and didn't see how a car would work anyway, so stopped questioning.
toerailcleat.jpgTwo of these (port and starboard) would set me back $200, a 2500 pound snap shackle a little more than $50.
As for risk of injury, I wouldn't be attaching or detaching under load.
 

ebsail

.
Nov 28, 2010
241
O day 25 Nyack. New York
Our Hunter 34 has stern and bow cleats but no cleat at midships. As a result, we normally fix two lines to each cleat at the dock: A bow or stern line plus a spring line. The challenge is our cleats aren't very large and don't have a centre hole to thread through for a stronger hold so the two lines just barely fit together over the cleats.

A guy was telling me about a different sort of tie that only uses two (very long) lines. Using the bow line as an example, it starts fixed to the toe rail or stanchion amidships, down to the dock then up to the bow cleat and finally back to the dock immediately below. Same thing for the stern. In this way each line fills a dual function of bow/stern line and spring line. Has anyone tried this or have an opinion on it? My first thought is it would be more difficult to adjust so the boat is sitting just right at the dock. (We like to pull our stern in for easier boarding.)

Adding to this, he suggested that the lines be tied off at the toe rail amidships and coiled/stored hanging on the lifeline when not in use. In this way, when single handing I can grab one of the lines and loop it at the dock amidships first, which will balance the boat at the dock. Then run it back to he stern or bow cleat, and back to the dock. I suppose you'd need a set of lines hanging on both port and starboard lines to allow for tying on either side. As I write this it all sounds impractical but thought I'd see if anyone else has tried.
that only works if the dock is floating and rises and falls with tides. on fixed docks you'll RIP out your cleats
 
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Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,413
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Snap shackles on dock lines just don't make sense.... if they did you'd see them elsewhere. The fixation point needs to be firm and immovable, so the flexible dock line can absorb all the stress. I don't like the cleats you pictured either, but even a bolted on bow shackle or pad eye, that was fixed in place, would allow the large diameter dock line to pass smoothly through and be tied off with a traditional knot. A snap shackle at the end of a rope is going to rest in an unnatural position, and the constant flexing that dock lines exhibit 24/7 will be noisy and abrasive. A genoa lead block shackled to the toe rail has all its load going vertical... and the load, in general is consistent when the sheet is active, and non existent when the sheet is passive.

Anyway, good luck... hope it works well.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
15,824
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I don't like the cleats you pictured either, but even a bolted on bow shackle or pad eye, that was fixed in place, would allow the large diameter dock line to pass smoothly through and be tied off with a traditional knot.
:plus:
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,824
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
looked at the geometry and realized the stresses on the track would be closer to parallel than perpendicular, similar to the forces applied by the sheets. Heavy movement as you describe don't seem like they would change those angles more than a couple of degrees, unlike the increased stresses on mooring lines which would be appropriately cleated.
We have different water environments. My boat is in the water 365 while you, if like most in the midwest on the great lakes, take the boat up on the hard during the worst of the storms each year.

I'll grant you your geometry and that the spring lines trace a more longitudinal alignment than the bow or stern lines of most slip positions. When the boat is moving about in a winter storm, I have observed stresses on the dock lines in all directions. One winter storm with the boat tied to the slip the cleat from the dock broke free and crashed against the hull at about 2:30 in the morning. I leaped out of my bunk and was out on the dock as the gusts continued to blow through the marina. The boat action had pulled the dock cleat right through the wooden deck. Only 8 hours earlier it had appeared and felt solid.

Your toe rail and genoa tracks were not designed to sustain the type of repetitive pull tug motion through what can be a 60 to a 120 degree range by a boat in a gale condition. The backing on these metal hardware is often a SS bolt with a fender washer backing at best or a washer are worst. The repetitive action of a boat in a gale will work its best on the structure till something gives. If not the 1st storm then one sometime in the future.

I prefer to secure my boat to a cleat with strong backing plate.

Your boat, your sailing waters, your choice.
 
Apr 21, 2021
37
C&C 30 Harrison Township, MI
We have different water environments. My boat is in the water 365 while you, if like most in the midwest on the great lakes, take the boat up on the hard during the worst of the storms each year.

I'll grant you your geometry and that the spring lines trace a more longitudinal alignment than the bow or stern lines of most slip positions. When the boat is moving about in a winter storm, I have observed stresses on the dock lines in all directions. One winter storm with the boat tied to the slip the cleat from the dock broke free and crashed against the hull at about 2:30 in the morning. I leaped out of my bunk and was out on the dock as the gusts continued to blow through the marina. The boat action had pulled the dock cleat right through the wooden deck. Only 8 hours earlier it had appeared and felt solid.

Your toe rail and genoa tracks were not designed to sustain the type of repetitive pull tug motion through what can be a 60 to a 120 degree range by a boat in a gale condition. The backing on these metal hardware is often a SS bolt with a fender washer backing at best or a washer are worst. The repetitive action of a boat in a gale will work its best on the structure till something gives. If not the 1st storm then one sometime in the future.

I prefer to secure my boat to a cleat with strong backing plate.

Your boat, your sailing waters, your choice.
Wasn't crazy about snap shackles to begin with. Don't see a good place for waist cleats so it looks like my choices are to get a longer slip so the mooring points aren't exactly perpendicular, short (less stretch), and tight. I thought about adding a couple dock cleats to create better angles. The piling side lines would still be perpendicular, but dockside lines would provide longitudinal pull and flex. The problem with this is though piling lines would keep her from the dock, dockside lines won't keep her from the pilings, so longer slip looks like the only choice, but the stubborn engineer in me dictates I do some calculations to see if I can make this "perfect fit" slip work first. :)
 
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Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
1,961
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Wasn't crazy about snap shackles to begin with. Don't see a good place for waist cleats so it looks like my choices are to get a longer slip so the mooring points aren't exactly perpendicular, short (less stretch), and tight. I thought about adding a couple dock cleats to create better angles. The piling side lines would still be perpendicular, but dockside lines would provide longitudinal pull and flex. The problem with this is though piling lines would keep her from the dock, dockside lines won't keep her from the pilings, so longer slip looks like the only choice, but the stubborn engineer in me dictates I do some calculations to see if I can make this "perfect fit" slip work first. :)
We had this issue many times with pilings. The trick is to keep the bow and stern lines slack enough to allow for tidal range, but not slack enough that the boat will hit the pilings. The fore and aft spring lines can be tighter to keep the boat in position in the slip. I would pull on the stern line to get the side of the boat close enough to board. This could take a few days of experimenting, and then marking the dock lines at the preferred lengths. As live aboards, we devised a system of hanging the dock lines from the pilings, rather than removing them each time we left the slip. At times, I had as many as 13 dock lines securing the boat when a blow was due to hit us.
 
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Jul 27, 2011
4,529
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
The PO of my 34 installed Genoa track cleats that work well for spring lines. Docking single handed I often run a line from amidships under the lifelines and back to the cockpit. I can the hop off line in hand and snug to a mid-dock cleat, holding the boat steady while I secure fore and aft lines. Absent a mid dock cleat, I use the stern line and drop it aft the cleat or bollard before jumping off...if all goes well.
I do this as well when needed. But I wouldn’t say that I “hop off.” I basically stop, or nearly, the boat and step off as I normally do when the boat is tied, with the dock line to the mid-ship cleat in rt hand. These days I use a fender step (Dan Fender) at the mid-ship gate which I can put over as I come up to the dock. With the 38 ft, I’m blessed to have a gate supported by stanchions through which I have a two-handed grip stepping back onto the dock. I have plenty of time to secure to the dock cleat unless there is much wind blowing from off the dock. That so, the boat does need some way on even as I step off. Not as much time. Must move quickly; use a long line; 50 ft at least. But no “hopping.” Sooner or later you’ll hit the dock moving too fast and tumble. I’ve seen it more than once.
 
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Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,961
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Must move quickly; use a long line; 50 ft at least. But no “hopping.” Sooner or later you’ll hit the dock moving too fast and tumble. I’ve seen it more than once.
As we have gotten older, I have made it a point to remind the Admiral to wait until the boat stops, then step onto the dock with a dock line in hand. No jumping allowed!
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,899
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
One of my favorite topics: midship spring lines.

Single Handing 101.2 HOPPING OFF THE BOAT IS UNNECESSARY
Single handing & Bull Rails

I wrote this for Latitude 38 in April 2008, in case you choose not to read that entire link:

HOPPING OFF THE BOAT IS UNNECESSARY

In the April issue, Mark Johnston asked about dealing with aging knees and boat docking in “Senior Sailors and High Freeboard.” He expressed his concern about docking (his Catalina 34!!!) with a potential future bigger boat, noting “…it’s not so easy…for my wife and me to jump down to the dock with lines in our hands.” We’ve had our Catalina 34 for the past 10 years, with a C22 for two and a C25 for twelve before that, sailing all over the Bay, the Delta and up & down the coast. We employ what we believe is the most useful and safe technique for docking that still seems to be a mystery to most sailors. It’s called the midships spring line. Our older Catalina 34s did not come with a midships cleat, so we added one on each side at the forward end of the jib fairlead track. Many newer boats come with them. There really is no reason to ever have to jump off a boat to dock it properly. I recommend that Mark Google “midships springline” – there is a wealth of information available, one of which is: http://www.cruising.sailingcourse.com/docking.htm.

The maneuver is simple: attach the springline to the midships cleat, run it fair outside the lifelines, as you approach the dock loop the springline over the aft dock cleat and bring it back to the winch. Snug it up and keep the boat in low throttle forward and the boat will sidle right up to the dock, no jumping is EVER required. A friend developed an enhanced springline arrangement with a prefixed length of line with a hose holding a lower loop of line open to assure that it catches the cleat on the dock, so that no line needs to be returned to the winch. ***

I do a lot of single-handed sailing and have found this invaluable in docking in all conditions. I’m sure that once this “trick” is learned and mastered it can be used in a wide variety of docking situations with all manner of wind and currents.

It’s not only safer, it’s a sure knee and back saver. The only drawback is when docks don’t have cleats, but have those nutty rings or the wooden raised runners so prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. I think that’s one reason they invented grapnel hooks!


*** Nautiduck, Randy Kolb's, "Dock A Matic" is described in the C25 Forum here: Association Forum - Docking made easy I am sure it could be applied to our boats as well if you tried; I've thought about it, but am still using our 40 foot long 1/2 inch dockline for that purpose without the nifty "loop in hose" idea. Whatever works for you.
 
Dec 29, 2008
798
Treworgy 65' Custom Steel Pilothouse Staysail Ketch St. Croix, Virgin Islands
The challenge is our cleats aren't very large and don't have a centre hole to thread through for a stronger hold
I would NEVER thread a line through the eye of a cleat, either on the boat or the dock. I want to get it off if I need to!
 
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Oct 22, 2014
15,824
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
@NotCook ... Never is pretty definitive.

There are some who abandon their lines when they leave the slip. Passing them through the dock cleat might still find them on the dock when they return. They can still slip quickly away by boarding the boat and casting all lines ashore. Or wielding their cutlass and cleaving the lines as they board.

Not me, as I am attached to my lines and would rather carry the lines stowed aboard with me. I figure I may not come back to the slip for a while. Who knows, the lines just may come in handy.

Different strokes for different folks.