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Rope Knowledge

How to Choose the Best Size Dock Lines

by Fred Dieckhaus
How to Choose the Best Size Dock Lines

Learning how to choose the best size of dock lines is incredibly important because these ropes are what tie your boat to the dock and keep it from drifting or moving from position. 

To choose the best dock line, consider the size and type. This can include the type of rope, length, and diameter. These factors will change depending on what size of boat the rope is required for, as well as the length of time the dock line will be in use. 

It is crucial you have the correct type of dock line to cover proper safety procedures when docking. 

How to Choose the Best Dock Lines for Your Boat 

Fastening your boat at dock is crucial, so always use the proper rope for docking and tying your boat. Boating thrives off of using the proper equipment, and it’s no different with dock lines. 

Always aim to choose the best dock lines for your specific boat, as well as the particular docking method and time constraints. To do this, you have to consider some general information as well as what sizes of rope you will need for your boat, and what the best type of dock line is. 

It is recommended to use nylon rope, which is an extremely durable material that works extremely well for dock lines. Polypropylene is another type of dock line which can be considered, although it degrades quicker under the sun. 

Something to also keep in mind is that it’s important to use two different dock lines for improved efficiency. 

A general rule of thumb is to employ one rope at your permanent dock, and one for any temporary locations you may need to dock your boat at. 

What Size Dock Lines Are Needed? 

The size of the dock line you need depends on several factors, and will vary on the size of your boat. 

A few guidelines can be followed when determining the size of dock lines for your craft. 

Diameter Rule of Thumb 

The first thing to always consider when choosing the diameter of the dock line is the length of the boat. If your craft is under 20’ the line should be a 3/8' minimum. 

For a boat between 20’ and 40', the diameter should be anywhere from 1/2' on the low end to 5/8' and above on the higher end. 

Length Rule of Thumb 

The general rule of thumb for finding a line that’s the proper length for your boat is that it should equal about 2/3rd’s of your boat’s total length. 

This reference should be considered the minimum required for the length of the line. 

It is acceptable for the line to measure anywhere from this specific length to equal to the length of your boat, and even optimal in cases of a more permanent rope. 

Happy Boating 

This guide on the length and diameter of your dock line can be used to determine exactly what size you need. The most important considerations are the length, size, and type. Bon Voyage! 

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