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How to Tie a Boat up Properly

Illustration by Greg Maxson

Maybe you can’t always tie up the way I’m showing you here —sometimes it’s impossible. But hey, you should always strive to approximate this ideal, for the sake of safety and convenience. And sure, going with four springlines is a little time-consuming and perhaps extreme, but how much did you pay for that boat?

A properly tied-up boat

IT TAKES TWO bow lines (instead of one) to keep your boat safely in the middle of her slip. While they may lead forward from the piling somewhat, they’ll do the best job if they approximate breast lines , i.e., lines that run pretty close to perpendicular to the boat’s centerline.

Use at least two springlines, forward and aft, to keep your boat from surging back and forth in her slip. An extra set (on the other side of the boat) is, as I’ve already noted, a good idea as well—it cuts surge even more and doubles up on safety.

Always crisscross your stern lines when possible. It’ll maximize the stability of your boat in her slip and keep her from drifting right or left. And remember—the longer the better, especially if you have nylon mooring lines. They are stretchy—more elasticity means more comfort onboard .

Remember, when overnighting in an unfamiliar marina, always put the eyes of your mooring lines (or loops made up using the eyes) on the pilings or cleats that are dockside and keep the bitter ends onboard . This gives you more onboard control and keeps things fairly simple for the dockhands.

How-to Guide to Knots, Hitches, and Linehandling Techniques ▶

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.