Essential Docking Accessories & Equipment
Docking is more than just parking your boat and going about your business. Obviously there’s equipment involved, and these essentials are what you need to do the job.
Here’s a list of some of the accessories and equipment needed for successfully docking, mooring or berthing a boat.
Strong cleats that won’t break off are needed to tie your boat up to a dock. These cleats need to be sturdy enough to withstand the push and pull that comes with being tied to a boat. When it comes to dock cleats, a good rule of thumb is the bigger, the better.
What good are the cleats without dock lines? These lines are made from various materials, and braided nylon lines as well as bungee dock lines are often recommended for their the elasticity. Dock lines need to absorb the impact of wind, currents and waves, which also affects the cleats they’re tied up to. When buying dock lines, choose strong material that can also withstand the elements and hold knots together.
Boat Fenders and Lines
Fenders protect boats by providing a cushion between the boat and the dock, plus pilings, sea walls, other boats, and anything else your vessel can make direct contact with while docked. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including round and cylindrical, the most popular fender shape. Most quality boat fenders are inflatable and have a valve to adjust their firmness.
And as mentioned about dock lines to cleats, what good are fenders without the lines and hangers to attach them to? As with dock lines, choose sturdy fender lines that can hold knots, and can withstand punishment from the elements and conditions encountered at the dock.
Dock bumpers serve the same purpose as boat fenders, which is to protect your boat from contact with the dock and its surroundings. It’s normal for both novice and expert boaters alike to hit a dock at some point. Dock bumpers absorb shock, minimize damage from impact, and can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs. They’re affordable and easy to install anywhere a boat can make contact with a dock.
Like swim ladders for boats, dock ladders make getting on and off a boat much easier. Pretty straightforward. Not much else to say here except to buy slip-resistant ladders for added safety.
Maneuvering a boat after dark can be quite the challenge, especially when mooring. All boats are required to have certain types of lighting by law, which includes docking lights for safer maneuvering in the dark. Think of them as headlights for a boat, but strictly for close-quarter parking of the vessel, so as not to blind other boaters in the water at night. Docking lights are usually small and come in a variety of shapes and colors, with either LED or halogen bulbs.
Finally there’s the boat anchor, which anybody who knows anything or nothing about boating knows what it is and why it’s important. And you might be wondering what it’s doing on this list. Honestly, it’s a cheat item, as you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) drop anchor when moored to a dock. Nevertheless, every boat needs at least one anchor (and anchor lines and/or chains) to secure it in place and prevent it from drifting off in the water in the absence of a dock. Like most everything else on this list, anchors come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The anchor type you choose depends on what kind of boat you have, as well as what boating conditions you need it for.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of docking equipment you’ll need, which could also include dock boxes and boat hooks, but they’re a bare minimum of items you should have readily available for parking your boat.