What dock line is best for you? When it comes to dock lines the proper materials and size can make all the difference. But how to determine what’s right for your boat?

Dock lines are essential to keep your boat safe and secure, but for many boaters the decision probably comes down to price…or color. Educate yourself about the best materials and sizes to choose the right dock line for your boat and docking scenario.

Polypropylene line (typically bright yellow in color) may be common and cheap, but it degrades rapidly from UV exposure and wear. Dacron lines quickly grow stiff.  Nylon is the better choice as it resists sun, fuel and chemical damage and offers enough stretch to provide some degree of shock absorption.

Larger diameter dock line is often stronger but won’t provide as much cushion when pulled taut on a rough afternoon at the dock. Your boat’s cleat size also dictates just how big a diameter line will fit properly. Boating experts suggest this rule of thumb: an 1/8-inch in diameter for every 2 inches of cleat length.

As to line length, bow and stern lines should be half the length of the boat, a spring line capable of stretching the whole length of your vessel.

For a temporary dock situation with a small boat (under 4,000 pounds) and little water-level fluctuation, bungee-style dock lines are a convenient alternative. The bungee cord wrapped inside provides about 1 1/2-feet of stretch and shock absorption.