Tips for Securing Your Boat

Taking care of a boat is not as easy as maintaining a car, as there are several steps that you must do in order to secure it against many hazards and maintain its parts to remain in its pristine condition.

Not many people own a boat, but for those who are buying their first vessel, they first think that parking a boat on the shore is as easy as parking a car in their garage or front yard. In addition, if your boat gets damaged while you’re trying to dock it, it is much pricier to fix it than the dents and scratches a car would often get on the road or while parking. Knowing how to secure your boat on the dock properly is crucial to prevent it from being damaged, stolen, or drifted away from the marina.

Here are some tips and methods that you should keep in mind for securing your boat correctly.

Know the Basic Terms for Docking


Before we get into the tips for docking your boat, we must first discuss the terms that you will regularly see in this article. These terms are either connected to the parts of the boat or the dock where you will park your vessel.

Here are the basic boating and docking terms that you need to know:

Cleats – These are the parts of the dock and boat where you will wrap around the rope, which is more commonly called a line, to keep the boat secure on its space. Cleats are usually T-shaped, with its bottom part screwed onto the boat or dock. You will wrap around the line at the stem of the cleat, and the horizontal metal part at the top will prevent it from loosening.

Turns – A turn is a term used to indicate the wrapping of the lines to the cleats. There are two kinds of turn that you can do to secure the lines to the cleat, the first is the half-turn where you only wrap around the line once, and the second one is the round turn where you have warp the line around the cleat multiple times to encircle it fully.

Chocks – These parts are utilized to guide the lines and align them to the cleats for a more secure fit. A chock’s top part looks like two C-shaped hooks that are facing each other, where one or two lines will pass through.

Bow Line – Now that you know the term used for the boat’s rope, let us now tackle the different kinds of lines. First up is the bow line, which is the rope that is wrapped around the cleat found at the bow or the front part of the boat. The bow line prevents the boat from moving left and right, and it also stops the boat from drifting away backward.

Spring Line – The spring line is attached to the boat to hinder it from moving forward. Two spring lines are typically used at the center of the boat that is connected to the front and back sides of the dock.

Stern Line – A stern line is connected to the back part of the boat or the stern. Like the bow line, this type of line stops the boat from moving side to side and forward.

Breast Line– The breast lines are ropes attached to the front and back parts of the boat. Bow lines and stern lines are often called breast lines when combined.

Chafing Guard – This is the piece that can be inserted in the sections of the lines where it meets the cleats or the chocks to prevent them from getting tears and wears due to friction. A chafing guard is usually made of cloth or other materials that reduce friction.

Fender – This item is attached to the side of the boat to prevent it from getting scratched by the dock. Fenders are normally made of foam to make them soft enough to bounce off the dock whenever the boat gets too close from the sides of it.

Now that we know most of the standard terms for docking, let us now go through the tips on how to use lines, cleats, and fenders properly.


Choose the Right Material for Your Dock Lines

Where to Buy
DC Cargo Mall 2 Marine-Grade Double-Braided Dock Lines | ?” X 15’ Double-Braided Nylon Dock Line with 12” Eyelet | Dock Line for Boats
Amarine-made 5/8 inch 20 feet 3 Strand Twisted Nylon Rope Dockline Multipurpose Utility Line - Alkali, Chemical, and Weather Resistant - Crafts, Towing, Dock Line, Color: Black, White
Cape Hatteras Chafe Guard
sleeri Removable Chafe Secure Guard - Chafe Guard for Dock Lines - Line Rope Chafe Guard - Rope Cable Line Protector - Boat Mooring Fender Line Boating Tubing Rope Chafe Guard, 10.63" Length
Simplified Living 8" Dock Cleats: Rough Cast Hot Dipped Galvanized Iron: 4, 8, 16 Pack
MIZUGIWA Nylon Cleat 4" Black 4 Pack
ZOMCHAIN Boat Cleat Open Base Boat Cleat, Dock Cleat All 316 Stainless Steel Boat Mooring Accessories, Free Installation Accessories Screws
Norestar 2-Pack Ribbed Fender Deflated with 2 Fender Lines for Boat or Dock
Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender


You couldn’t just use any type of rope to secure your boat on the dock, as there is only one specific material that strong enough to keep your boat steady, and that material is nylon.

There are three common types of dock lines that you can purchase in the market, which are double-braided and three-strand.

Double-braided lines are the strongest dock lines, but they are not as stretchy as the three-strand lines, which are considered the less expensive option. Most boat owners would go for the double-braided line as they are sturdier and more rigid, but for those who want a little bit of looseness to their lines to prevent their boat from getting too near to the dock constantly, then they should go for the three-strand lines. However, if you plan to use three-strand lines, it is recommended that you utilize a round turn rather than a half-turn to make the lines more secure while wrapped around the cleats.

Some companies are selling double-braided lines in different colors to match the overall aesthetic of your boat. One of the companies is DC Cargo Mall, which offers its most popular Marine-Grade Double-Braided Dock Lines in light blue and black.

Three-strand dock lines are often only available in the natural translucent white color of nylon, but some are available in black like the Amarine Made Three Strand Twisted Dock Line.

You should also purchase chafe guards before using your dock lines to make them last longer. Some popular brands for chafe guards include Cape Hatteras and sleeri.

Attach High-Quality Cleats

If your lines are strong and durable, then your cleats must also be able to withstand the pressure and weight of your boat whenever it moves around because of the changing tides in any body of water.

The most rigid cleats are the ones that are made of galvanized iron like the Simplified Living Dock Cleats, but the other popular options are nylon, such as the MIZUGIWA Nylon Cleats, and stainless steel, like the ZOMCHAIN Boat Cleats.

Choose the Correct Size of Fenders

Boats have different sizes, and as such, fenders should have different sizes too to accommodate the boat’s weight and to properly absorb the shock created when the boat bumps into the dock.

There are three standard sizes for fenders, and these are 5.5” x 20”, 6.5” x 23”, and 8.5” x 27”. The 5.5” x 20” fender can protect boats that are 20 feet in size, while the 6.5” x 23” is suitable for 25 feet boats. The last size is perfect for bigger boats that are 30 feet or more. There are smaller and bigger sizes to choose from in terms of boat fenders, but these sizes are not as common or as widely used as the ones mentioned before.

The most well-known brands that have high-quality boat fenders are NorestarPolyform, and Shoreline Marine. In addition, like dock lines, there are also different colors available for fenders such as blue, white, and black.

As seen in the many terms and methods indicated in this article, it is safe to say that securing a boat is never easy. Owners consider their boats as a prized possession, and they will do anything to keep it in excellent condition by properly docking it and doing its basic maintenance, even if these procedures are difficult to do.