We explain what to look for in a good set of dock lines and pick out some of the best options currently available
While most of us buy our boats for the enjoyment they provide out on the water, it’s an inescapable fact that virtually every leisure craft spends far more time on its berth than it does out at sea.
It follows, therefore, that its dock lines – the ropes used to secure the vessel to its berth – need to be of the correct type and size to hold the boat fast whatever the conditions when their owners are far away, back home on dry land.
Whether your boat is moored shoreside, on a swinging mooring or a running anchorage, always consider the risks when leaving the vessel unattended.
While the size of the rope required will depend on the size of the boat (see here for a useful sizing chart) you will not regret upsizing to a larger rope than recommended whenever a major storm rolls in. It’s also worth considering doubling up on boat ropes, again to provide additional protection against the worst of the weather.
In terms of materials, the choice is principally between nylon and polyester, both of which are strong and durable and are offered in a vast array of colours and colour combinations. Owners of classic craft may opt for a synthetic hemp-lookalike rope for an authentic look.
Finally, should you go for twisted or braided lines? In our view, braided lines tend to be the more attractive of the two, as well as having a better touch and feel due to their being the more flexible. Twisted rope, however, is less expensive, can be easily spliced and is slightly more stretchy than braided line.
Whichever type and size of rope you choose, it also goes without saying they need to be maintained in good order – so do check frequently for fraying, wear and tear.
Here’s our guide to the best dock lines for boats:
Softline multifilament mooring rope
Handmade in the UK, Softline multifilament mooring ropes are available in no fewer than ten colours. There’s a great choice of diameters too – from 8 to 24 mm in 2 mm increments – and the length can be specified as anything from 4 metres upwards.
Add to that a 3″ to 20″ soft eye at one end and heat sealing, a second soft eye or a thimble at the other, and you’ve got one of the most flexible and versatile line offerings on the market today.
Key properties of Softline multifilament ropes include high strength, UV- and abrasion-resistance, and zero water absorption.
Price: From £15.00
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WYCY mooring rope bungee
Sold in packs of two, these bright yellow and green rippled WYCY docklines comprise a built-in hidden 10 mm shock-absorbing rubber band with a woven PE outer layer.
Suitable for a variety of applications – small boats, kayaks, personal water craft and so on – these ropes facilitate quick docking by virtue of their rust proof 316 stainless steel clip at one end and a spliced loop at the other.
The length of the bungee rope is 4 feet (124cm), extending to 5.5 feet (170cm) under load, making it easy to get on and off without having to pull the boat.
I own a pair of these lines and find them extremely useful and of good quality.
Rainier Supply Co two pack nylon dock line
Another twin pack offer, Rainier Supply Co’s dock lines are available in two formats; 15 feet of 3/8″ rope or 25 feet of 1/2″ rope.
Made of soft, double braided black nylon, these lines are easy on the boat, comfortable to handle, strong and resistant to oil, mildew and rot.
A 12″ eye is include in the price and both ends are heat treated and wrapped to ensure the line does not unravel. If you are looking for a ready made mooring line solution, these Rainier Supply Co own-brand ropes might just be the answer.
Greenever four pack double braided nylon mooring rope
With a breaking strength of up to 6,500 lbs these 1/2″ Greenever dock lines are suitable for boats from 20 to 30 feet.
Supplied in navy blue, the each rope features a 12″ eye loop at one end, with the bitter end being heat treated and whip locked. Made of marine grade nylon, their double-braided construction is durable and fray resistant.
Abrasion-resistant and with high levels of tolerance to UV, oil, rot and mildew, these packs of four lines provide a flexible mooring solution with each 15″ line coming in at a unit price of less than £15.00.
Spliced set length LIROS braided polyester dock line
Jimmy Green Marine is a well-established and respected supplier of ropes of all kinds. This particular offer – 16 mm Liros braided dock line polyester mooring warps – is available in 10, 12 or 14 metre fixed lengths in a choice of either navy blue or black.
But if that doesn’t suit, the company will custom build ropes to your specific requirements.
Each rope in our featured offer has a 300 mm soft loop splice at one end and whipping at the other, with all ropes finished in house by the Jimmy Green rigging team.
Among the features and benefits of Liros braided polyester dock lines are high elasticity, high load capacity and excellent resistance to UV and abrasion.
Price: £87.00 – £112.00
Hempex synthetic hemp mooring line
While the purists might sniff at the use of synthetic hemp, these strong, weatherproof Hempex mooring lines certainly do a job and do it well. In short, they are hard wearing polypropylene ropes which give a traditional look while offering all the advantages of a man-made fibre.
Our featured product is supplied by Dover-based ships chandler, Sharp & Enright via their eBay store, with synthetic ropes in 12 diameters from 3 mm to 28 mm on offer.
The minimum length of these beige colour lines is 5 metres, with options all the way to 75 mm listed.
Price: £7.45 – £271.50
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.