Marina mooring lines or dock lines generally haven’t changed much in the past 30 odd years, until recently. Walking around marinas one sees many of the same ropes we saw decades ago. Old and chafed 3 braid rope, used halyards or sheets cut down, ex anchor ropes and some other very odd-looking ropes as well. In addition, the mentality of ‘if in doubt, just add lots more old ropes’ appears to still be used by some.
The most common dock line over the past decades and still in use today is three strand polyester. Once a very popular DIY choice for those that could splice it (a dying art for many newer owners) and generally the product used by many who, until recently, got their marina ropes professionally made or purchased premade fixed lengths sold in chandleries.
The downsides of using three strand polyester have always been the time taken (and therefore price) to splice and lack of any length adjustment once spliced. Because it is impossible to lengthen the rope once spliced, this leads to most lines being over length and having to be double cleated or wound around cleats once or more to get the correct length from fear of having the rope too short and rendered useless. This in turn leads to some vessels moving excessively in their marina berth causing over-length type issues for marina managers and owners alike or contacting the marina piers or poles. The stiffer nature developed by these ropes over time, invariably means the splices can’t be undone or moved, and the ropes are more prone to chafe in the longer term.
These issues have led to the development of a new, marina specific dock line from New Zealand’s Fineline Marine. Pro Splice is made especially for use as marina and dock lines and is different to other braid products. Firstly, Pro splice is made from highly twisted polyester and has no core, giving it high elongation (shock absorption) and flexibility, exactly what is needed in a dock line. This is particularly important in marinas that experience water movement. But most importantly for boat owners is the different splicing technique it requires which takes less time and is therefore cheaper to install professionally. Additionally, once spliced, the length can be readjusted quite easily and after many months of working life. All of this coupled with high working loads over a range of sizes, make it the market leader in dock lines.
The features of the Pro Splice dock line make it the most versatile and easiest product to use for professionally made marina dock lines. The reduced splicing time and adjustment capabilities mean installers can carry out an entire installation on site in one go.
While boat owners spend thousands on upgrading technology, systems, and comforts on their vessels, the less appealing items such as dock lines and marina fenders tend to be ignored. For something so critical as keeping your boat safe in a storm or preventing damage when entering your berth; these items should be much higher up the agenda than they usually are.
Marina managers are issuing more weather warnings these days when conditions are likely to be adverse, requesting boat owners check their vessels and dock lines. Yet we are continually surprised by the number of vessels with old dock lines that are no longer fit for purpose.