Can I Tie My Boat to My Dock?

Can I tie my boat directly to my dock or do I need to use a boat hoist? 

This depends on a number of factors such as lake conditions, size of the boat, and the dock you’re using.  Let’s look at each factor individually:

Lake Conditions:  If you live on a small lake or pond that receives minimal wake from boaters and wind you can usually leave your boat tied directly to the dock.  However, if you are on a larger, more turbulent lake that receives waves and swells of over 1ft, you may find your boat has been pushing your dock around like the playground bully.  In a big lake setting, it is best to only tie off for transient docking and also with the use of mooring equipment such as dock bumpers and mooring whips.

Size of the Boat:  If you only show up to your cottage once a year, you could probably expect your aluminum row boat you tied up 4 months ago to still be there (assuming you can tie a quality knot).  However, if you tie up your 36ft Chris Craft and leave for 4 months you may walk into the local boat livery only to find your neighbor a dozen cottages downwind discussing his great classic boat find.  In other words, be smart about it.  Consider the value of the boat and weigh it against the cost of a boat hoist spread out over the years of use.

The Dock:  Many modern residential docks are made of lightweight aluminum and with slick removable deck insert designs.  They are lightweight by intent as to make them easy to install and remove in northern lakes.  This is a double edged sword for a cottage dweller looking to tie their boat to the dock.  A permanent dock or a much heavier dock will hold their position much better than one designed to be the lightest possible.  Mix a lightweight dock with a heavy weight boat and you may find your dock laying on it’s side.  If a hoist just isn’t an option, be smart about your dock layout.  Choose a marina style dock configuration that will add stability and utilize mooring whips or spring loaded tie straps.

To sum things up, for any boat other than the very smallest and lightest, it will always be best to use a hoist.  My Advice:  Save money on your dock by avoiding purchasing them from the marinas and maybe you’ll be able to afford the hoist!