Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Which end of the dock line?

There are some never ending discussions when it comes to boats: tiller vs. wheel; locked prop or not, and more. Lately, I've been pondering this one: does the eye of a dock line go to the dock or stay on the boat?

Traditionally, the eye goes to the dock, goes over a cleat or bollard or piling or whatever, and lines are handled from the boat. "Hold," "ease," "take out the slack," are common commands to line handlers. There's also the notion of adjusting lines, something that's traditionally done from the boat and not from the shore.

The more I ponder, the more I find that tradition is largely based on where the experienced line handlers are to be found, which is, traditionally, on board. Not so with recreational boats and even less so when the boat is single handed. My line handlers come in the form of one, sometimes two, dock mate neighbors, and quite often, I'm my own line handler, taking the lines ashore with me as I step from boat to dock.

Experience with inexperienced crew and single handed sailing has convinced me that the fixed end of a dock line belongs on board. Who on your boat can hold, ease or take out the slack, of not just a single line, but of three or four? Can you do it, and dock the boat at the same time? Can you jump ashore, loop a dock line over a cleat, and adjust the line from the boat at the same time?

I'm happy with keeping the spliced eyes on the boat. Back to pondering tillers and wheels, locked props or not.

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