Permanent Dock Lines

I should have done this a couple of years ago.  My wife suggested this early on, but I resisted.  How hard is it to just cleat off a line anyway?  Now that we’ve changed our docking orientation to stern-first, it is apparent that permanently set lengths for the mooring lines are going to add a considerable measure of convenience to getting in and out of the slip.

I had a relaxing hour of conversation with fellow boat owners at the marina picnic table while I spliced loops in our three-strand nylon dock lines.

Tools for splicing.  The line was reasonably pliable and I didn't need a fid or marlin spike.

Tools for splicing. The line was reasonably pliable and I didn’t need a fid or marlin spike.

Line marked, ends taped.

Line marked, ends taped.


First tuck.  This is the hardest one.  The last strand is the one that can go astray.

First tuck. This is the hardest one. The last strand is the one that can go astray.

Half done

Half done

Tucks complete.  Just trimming and rolling underfoot is left.

Tucks complete. Just trimming and rolling underfoot is left.

I cut the line with a red hot putty knife.  It trims the line and seals the ends at the same time.

I cut the line with a red-hot putty knife. It trims the line and seals the ends at the same time.








  1. Anonymous said:

    excellent skill set to have..still occasionally pick up beer money making up lines for others at $10 for 3 strand eye w/ seizing, $15 for double braid and $20 for wire to rope per splice..BTW their are some good turtorials for this online!!

    • I haven’t learned how to splice double braid or do a wire-to-rope splice. I don’t use yacht braid much ($$) and don’t have wire halyards. I suppose it would be nice to splice the shackles on to my halyards – which are double braid.

  2. Great Rick! Now just how do you get the boat in her slip stern first?? Or are you in a half slip, end moor or shared slip? You must have a lot of room to maneuver!! I would like some pointers. I am also afraid if I moor stern first which is easier for boarding that the pulpit on our W33 will stick out into the marina lane. Any advice?
    Alan W.

    • Alan, our slip is long and pretty wide. Probably 45′ long and 18′ wide. I know. . . we have a luxurious slip. Also, I don’t always get into the slip backwards on the first try. Sometimes I have to circle around and try again if I misjudge the wind, current, etc. It just takes practice (my success rate is about 50%). The most difficult aspect is figuring out how to manage your prop walk. Our boat goes sideways (not backwards!) to port from a dead stop in reverse. There isn’t much in the way of steering that will allow me to counter act this. I have to get the boat moving in reverse before the rudder will make any difference. Once moving, I take the boat out of reverse (neutral) and coast – this stops the prop walk and allows me to use the rudder more effectively. While the prop is spinning backwards, the rudder is almost useless. While moving backwards, it is sometimes effective to push the stern one way or the other by juicing the throttle in forward with the helm hard over. This doesn’t completely stop the sternway, but allows you to move the stern either way if needed, typically to straighten the backward progress. Aggressive throttle control (lots of power) is often needed to effect the outcome. Truthfully, backing into our slip (or any slip) is not something that I’m very good at. You can’t underestimate the effect of wind and current.

      For us, tying up is more advantageous stern-first due to the way our pilings are set. I can more easily cross the stern lines when moored stern-to, and I get a better angle on the spring line this way too. Additionally, other boaters tend to take the 6mph speed limit liberally – so if we get a strong wake in the creek I’d rather have the boat bow-to the chop than stern-to.

      • I added a swim platform on the stern of our W33. At the current time it is just at a start but useable and the improvements can include most anything so I am thinking of an outboard mounting spot on the center of the platform upon which I could mount a long shaft 4-6hp integral tank motor. I already have the equipment for storing an outboard on the rail and the crane for getting it off a dingy so I thought it could really help backing in to have the little “kicker” motor back there something like 8 feet behind the rudder. Instead of getting her moving with the main engine I could get it started in reverse with the kicker. I wouldn’t think a lot of speed would be a good idea in a marine and especially in a slip and we would always have the main engine running to act as the brakes. What do you think of this idea??
        Alan W.

  3. Alan, I think having a prop at the end of your swim platform – with torque direction that you can change as you pivot the outboard – would be very beneficial. Also a great emergency source of propulsion should your auxiliary fail.

    I’m wondering how you would access the kicker’s controls – would you operate it from the swim platform? Would you extend its controls to the cockpit? Would you need the main engine at all, or need to access its controls while you were backing in a slip? Seems like it could be inconvenient to have to control the kicker from the swim platform.

    • I know it will be inconvenient to control the kicker from the platform but I will for 3 reasons. 1, there is not room in the cockpit for outboard controls and I would need to disconnect them each time I wanted it on the dingy. 2, Absolutely no space for a gas tank in the cockpit. Ok well no space my wife wishes to give up. 3, is that I want to use it on the hard dingy, maybe on a future RIB and I wish to store it on the rail bracket that is already there which keeps it out of the way of being drowned in a seaway. Although our platform is about a foot above the water it can easily be underwater by the boats motion given the fact that the platform is 2.5 feet behind the deck and hull. It’s primary support right now is tensioned cables from the ends of the toe rail. I will soon add a center strut up from the hull just from the stern tip. Have to have it all fabricated. This is going to allow me to add a nice curve to the existing platform frame and then figure out the brackets that need attached to the back of the platform. One good thing about being unable to do physical work due to my spinal surgery in my neck is plenty of time to plan. I hope this makes sense, pain drugs ya know.
      Alan W.

  4. ShimonZ said:

    peace of mind, and plenty of time helps… and of course, it’s much easier after you’ve done it about thirty times…

    • True, Shimon. I’ll need to practice splicing double-braid a number of times – as you suggest, repetition is the key. It is a meditative activity. Allows your hands to active, and part of your brain, but also allows your mind space to wander. It’s a soothing activity. Nice of you to visit!

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