Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Brian Drew

Tying up a boat is not a simple job for the amateurs. One might have seen the boat owners get off their classy boats and tie them up without even a second glance at the ropes. The end result? A good sturdy knot, strong enough to hold the boat in place, through the tides. So how do they do it? When you learn the basics of tying a good knot, it takes very little time to gain more expertise in it.


So Do You Tie Up Your Boat?

Here are 10 simple steps to help you get that perfect knot to tie up your boat securely.

Learn The Knots

How to tie up a boat with sailor knots that are world-famous for their simplicity, style, and effectiveness. A simple knot with a few twists here and a few knots there can keep even a big boat, secured to the dock, despite the tides. There are different types of knots one can master and use in different situations. Some of the best anchor rope knots that are used are:

  • Clean Hitch – This knot can be used to tie the boat to a fixed dock, a floating dock, or even a boat lift.
  • Bowline Knot – When you want a knot that is firm yet easy to undo when you are running short of time, the bowline knot can the perfect choice.
  • Anchor Bend – This knot is generally used when you want to secure the boat with an anchor. For added safety, the free end of the rope can be tied up to the anchor with a backup knot.
  • Clove Hitch – for temporary mooring, this knot can be a good choice. It is easy to both tie and unties, making it a preferred option by many who are not good at complex knots. However, this is not one of the safest knots for your boat as it can come undone when there is not enough pressure on the ropes.
  • Figure Eight – One of the strongest and safest knots used not just for tying up a boat, but for other purposes too. This knot can hold the boat securely when moored.

Learn About The Ropes and how to tie up a boat

There are different ropes used for tying up a boat at different parts, such as the stern lines, spring lines, etc. it is important to use the right rope at the right place to tie up the boat securely. When you are buying the ropes, you must ensure they are of the right size. The length of the ropes must be proportional to the length of the boat so that the rope is sufficient enough in different situations.

The material of the rope is also important as it has to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the boat in the tide. There are different types of dock lines one can choose from, based on the requirements.


Once you are well equipped to tie up your boat, you can sail it. When it is time to dock, be it back at the home port or elsewhere, the boat needs to be slowed down. It is not like a car, where you can hit the brakes and stop the vehicle within inches. Boats will take longer to come to a halt and you cannot tie it up until it comes to a full stop.

Hence it is important to slow down the boat well ahead of the docking point. If you have looked for a place to dock it, slow down the boat and do your search.

Judge The Distance

No dock will be free. There will be other boats and just like with any other vehicle, one has to judge the distance between the boats. An important factor to be considered when it comes to docking a boat is the tides. Judge the distance of the other boats and the tides too. Boats will move and the distance should be calculated accordingly.

Choose Your Spot

If you are lucky and have enough place around, to choose a docking spot, choose wisely. Choose a place that will provide ample space for your boat. Take into consideration the docking and undocking parts. The more the space, the easier it will be.

Check The Currents

Both wind and water currents play a major role in deciding your course. Even when you are tying up your boat, the water tides and the wind need to be considered. If not judged properly, the boat may move too far away for you to tie it up as planned.


Just like parking a vehicle on an already full street, take care while docking your boat. You don’t want to get in trouble with other boat owners for bumping into their vessel.

Tie It Up

Once you have chosen and docked at the desired spot, start tying the knot. As mentioned earlier, there are different types of knots suitable for different occasions. Choose the perfect knot for your needs and start tying it. Ensure the knot is secure by tugging at it a time or two and only then leave your boat unattended.


Tie up all the lines required. It is important to secure every part of your boat and not just the docking line. Ensure the stern line, the fender, etc are all tied up securely. Check if all the knots are secured, both on the boat as well as on the dock. Also, check if the ropes are well protected against chaffing. If required use other gears or a thick hose to protect your hose from damage due to chafe.

Move Quickly

While securing the boat to the dock, one needs to move fast and tie up all the knots securely. The water tides are not very predictable and getting surprised by a high tide when your boat is not fully secured, is not something a boat owner wants.

Know Your Lines

When it is time to tie up your boat, one needs to know which lines to tie up and why each of them is necessary. It is always advisable to tie up the boat using all these lines.

  • Bow Lines – This line keeps the boat from drifting away when it is tied alongside and not on the dock. This knot will stop the bow from moving on either side.
  • Breast Lines – These lines make it much easier to pull the boats in, for boarding. Hence these lines are important to ensure the boat is secured at the harbor.
  • Spring Line – Two of these lines are sufficient, while four will make it more secure and the job easier. These spring lines are used to ensure the boat does not drift and move forwards.
  • Stern Lines – As the name suggests, these lines are used to secure the stern part of the boat, from moving sideways. The main purpose of these lines is to ensure the boat never

Gear Up

Apart from the lines, there are many other gears one must carry with them when sailing on the boat.

  • Fenders – These protect your boat from bumping into other boats or the dock when tied alongside. These bumpers prevent damages caused due to bumping.
  • Cleats – These are either horn-shaped or T-shaped and are used to secure the lines of the boat.
  • Pilings – This is a long piece of timber that is driven into the bottom. They can be used in the place of cleats to secure the lines.


With the right gears, lines, and enough knowledge about knots, one can secure their boat to the dock or alongside, with ease. Tie up your boat safely and never worry about it getting lost due to a bad knot.

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