Anchor & Docking

How to Choose the Best Size and Type of Dock Lines

Docking your boat is the most common procedure that you usually do with your vessel. And for you to properly dock your boat, you must have the right skills and equipment such as boat hook and dock lines to make your docking easier and safer.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about dock lines – what’s their purpose, types, and what size will fit on your boat.


Boat dock line

Dock lines are used to secure your boats whenever you dock them. They also serve as a protection to other boats whenever you’re rafting.

Usually, you need at least three or four boat ropes/dock lines when docking your boat. These lines will prevent any forward, backward, and sideways movements of your boat so it won’t rotate in different directions. 

Types of Dock Line 

Transient dock lines – are also known as temporary lines since they can be detached from the dock. You can easily distinguish transient dock lines because they have spliced eyes in the end, which makes them easier to be tied to the cleat.

Fixed dock lines – are usually protected by rubber or chafe gears to prevent them from breaking. Fixed dock lines are the lines that you detach from your boat and are left on the dock. If you’re planning to use fixed dock lines, make sure that:

  • Your spring lines are the same length as your vessel.
  • Your stern and bow lines are ⅔ the length of your vessel.
  • Your midship breast lines are ½ the length of your vessel.

What is the Best Material for Dock Lines?

Most of the dock lines are made from nylon. This is the most recommended material since it has high strength and elasticity. It can also withstand sunlight and water exposure and features abrasion resistance. Nylon dock lines have different types but most boaters use the three-strand and the double braided lines.


Boat dock line

Double braided dock lines are known for their durability and longevity that can last for almost 2 years while the three-strand dock lines are the most affordable lines with great quality. But besides these, they have their advantages and disadvantages. If you want to know more about their differences, you can check the table below:

Double Braided Dock Lines (Nylon)Three-strand Dock Lines (Nylon)
-Stronger-More abrasion resistant-Available in various colors
-Stays flexible
-Wraps around the cleats better
-Cheaper-Easy to splice
-Traditionally available in white (better for UV resistance)
-Expensive-Has a tendency to snag on rails or pilings
-Can pick up splinters
-Becomes stiffer over time


Boat dock line

Usually, your dock lines should be ⅛” of line diameter for every 9’ of boat length. To be able to figure out the dock line diameter that will perfectly fit your boat, you can use this table as a guide.

Boat LengthDock Line Diameter
Up to 27’⅜”
28’ – 31’7/16″
32’ – 36’½”
37’ – 45’⅝”
46’ – 54’¾”
55’ – 63’⅞”
64’ – 72’1”

Take note that these are only guidelines, the dock line diameter may change if your boat is heavy and has a higher wind profile. If your boat has these aspects, it’s suggested to increase the diameter size to the next size.


Boat dock line

The main enemy of dock lines is the chafe (when two or more parts rub together causing friction). To maintain their quality, make sure to:

  • Use at least three wraps around the wooden bull rail before tying the line to your boat.
  • Wrap your dock line with chafe gear/protection where it makes contact with any rough surfaces. You can use alternative chafe protection such as garden hose, piece of leather, or denim from your old jeans.


Dock lines are considered an important gear to protect your boat. Though it may take you some time to execute them properly, it’s important to take some time to understand how they work because They’ll give good benefits to your boat.

Do you have a particular dock line recommendation?? Share them with us and comment below.

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