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When you’re tying a boat to the dock, you must keep the tides in mind.

If you do not consider the rising and falling water, you are likely to find yourself in a sticky situation.

As long as you keep the tides in mind and carefully tie up your boat, you can return the following day to find your boat in the same condition as you left it.

Let’s take a look at how to tie a boat to a dock with tides so that you can confidently tie up your boat while taking all of the relevant information into account.

How to tie a boat to a dock with tides

Anytime you tie a boat to the dock, it’s best to keep it simple. 

If something were to go wrong, it’s much easier to unravel the dock lines if you originally put them in a simple configuration that’s easy to see.

While you can use any simple arrangement that you want, you should always keep the tides in mind.

Why must you worry about the tides when tying up your boat?

If you do not consider the tides at this crucial step, you may find yourself with a sunken boat.

If you have ever witnessed this at the docks, you know that a sunken boat is every captain’s nightmare.

How can a boat sink when tied to the dock?

  • The boat catches on the dock, causing water to fill from the outside.
  • The lines do not allow the boat to lower into the water, eventually flipping it over.
  • Cleats break due to improper use.
  • The deck and/or hull becomes severely damaged due to imporperline arrangement.

Obviously, you do not want any of these things to happen!

So, take your time, consider the tides, and properly prepare so that this doesn’t happen to you!

As you consider the tides, think about whether the water is likely to rise or fall before you return to the boat. 

Also think about the height that the water will change.

It’s not enough to merely consider if the tide will change. 

You must also consider exactly how the tide will change.

This information is critical to arranging the lines that will tie your boat to the dock.

The length of the lines that you use and the arrangement of them can make all the difference between coming back to a sunken boat beneath the dock or returning to a boat happily tied to the dock, above water.

When you tie a boat to the dock, you must be sure that it is tightly attached so that the lulls of the water do not lead your boat astray.

Let’s consider a few cases that you may be familiar with so that we can take a look at the proper ways to tie a boat to the dock with the tides in mind.

What to do if your cleats are above the dock

This is most often the case for large boats. 

Make observations about your boat. Are the bow cleats and stern cleats generally above the height of the dock? If so, this scenario applies to you.

If your boat matches this description and you tightly tie your boat to the dock at high tide, the lines will become somewhat slack when the water falls during low tide.

When this happens, your boat is much freer to move, which can cause problems. 

For example, if your lines are loose, the boat can impact other boats nearby, and it may come into contact with the dock itse;f.

In extreme cases, your boat may become lodged underneath the dock, resulting in tipping and possibly sinking.

If you tie your boat to the dock at high tide without thought to low tide, your lines may snap, freeing your boat.

None of these cases are ideal.

What to do if your cleats are below the dock

This is most often the case for small to medium sized boats.

Tightly tying your boat at high tide can cause it to hang from the dock at low tide. Or, the line could snap, allowing your boat to move wherever the water takes it.

Small boats are especially susceptible to becoming stuck under the dock if they are not properly tied.

How does the type of dock affect your typing method?

As it turns out, the type of dock that you’re dealing with makes a huge difference in the way you should approach tying off. 

Keep the changing tides as well as the type of dock in mind to ensure that your boat will be safely tied to the dock.

How to tie your boat to fixed docks

Fixed docks also include side docks and pier docks.

When tying your boat to a fixed dock, many people think that you must leave a significant amount of slack in the lines to compensate for rising water.

However, this may not be the best idea. You must strike a careful balance between leaving enough slack and leaving so much slack that your boat collides with other boats and obstacles.

Experienced boaters usually leave minimal slack in the lines to avoid this issue.

So, how should you tie up your boat with minimal slack without putting yourself in a tough situation during high tide?

The key is to use long lines to tie up your boat securely. Long lines can handle the changes that come with high tide and increased tension.

To make this work, tie the lines from cleats that are the greatest distance possible from the dock. Avoid the closest cleats, and you will be able to use longer lines.

Use a spring line between the center cleat and the dock cleats. Repeat this from the rear dock cleat using a separate spring line.

Two or four pilings or a parallel dock

If you want to tie to one of these types of docks, use a finger slip for a more secure hold.

Wehn tying to a four piling dock, you can use up to a maximum of 10 lines to hold your boat securely in place.

Floating docks

Floating docks are easier to tie to with respect to the tide. 

Since they float, your boat will minic their movement on the water. 

Because your boat moves fluidly with the water, there is less danger of sinking, but you must still be careful.

In this case, you can use shorter or longer lines to tie your boat.

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