Dock Line & Rope

Dock Line & Rope

Boat docking can be a breeze or a fire drill. Having the right dock lines is the key to making your job of docking easy, whether you hook, loop, or cleat your lines.

Handling a variety of lines doesn’t have to be an animated exercise of yelling and swearing with with an audience of bystanders looking on in amusement. Having the right type and length of rope on the dock and at the ready will have you prepared for whatever docking maneuvers are necessary.

Choice of Materials

Your boat dock line inventory can be either 3-strand nylon rope, which tends to get stiff over time, or braided rope, which is stronger and has more flexibility. You will need a pair each of bow and stern lines equal in length to that of the boat and a pair of spring lines that are half or 1.5 times as the long as the boat. For a diagram of the terminology, check out step two on the guide to docking.  

The following is an overview of the different types of dock lines and their characteristics:

Polypropylene Rope

Synthetics have made the sporting life so much easier, but they are not without their challenges. Polypropylene is an inexpensive, lightweight fiber that does not absorb water. Its greatest attribute is that it floats making it an excellent rescue line or tow rope for boats because it simply refuses to be dragged down into propellers and does not sink beneath boats and docks. Many boaters use it as boat dock line for their watercrafts for these reasons.

However, for more demanding purposes, a thick rope comprised of a high-strength core inside a polypropylene cover would be better. Be aware that polypropylene is not as strong as other rope braid that is more stretch-resistant. It is susceptible to deterioration from UV rays and damage under high heats.  Luckily dock lines made from poly rope materials, like the Attwood General Purpose Polypropylene, are designed to withstand typical weather conditions.  

Nylon Dock Line

Nylon rope is by far preferred for its strength and ability to stretch plus it is resistant to UV damage. Particularly suited for dock lines, it is commonly found as braided rope.

Nylon rope is possibly the most elastic of all the fiber rope types making it ideal for energy absorption. It is not a rope braid that will snap when it is instantly pulled taut. Not as inexpensive as polypropylene braided rope, it is still affordable making it an appealing choice. Try the Seasense Double Braid Nylon or Classic Attwood Gold Braided for the most reliable, permanent dock line installations.

Polyester Rope

Of all the rope braids, polyester has the nicest feel and probably the nicest color selections. Durable with good abrasion resistance whether wet or dry, it can be spun to a fuzziness while filament polyesters are smooth. Not a thick rope, it is an excellent choice for moderate strength demands around the dock.

Powerline USA features the best polyster rope for dock use and is great for a tight mooring that won't slacken when damp.  

Bungee Dock Line

Also called by its famous brand AIRHEAD, bungee dock lines are designed to absorb shocks to the jet ski or other PWC's beautifully. Nicely hidden inside a braided rope is a built-in bungee cord that acts as a protective case from snapping back at you. They have sliding adjustments at either end for quick and easy docking. The tensile strength is 2,150 pounds and recommended for boats and PWCs up to 4,000 pounds proving it does not need to be a thick rope to get the job done. Two foam floats provide protection to keep the boat from chafing.