How to Use Mooring Whips

by Will Charpentier
Mooring whips and fenders keep your boat off the dock.

Mooring whips and fenders keep your boat off the dock.

You don't flog anything or anyone with a mooring whip. Mooring whips keep your boat from banging into your dock if other boaters blissfully blast by, their wakes trailing after them, and rock the boat. The words "your dock" are key because mooring whips are a permanent installation on the dock, not something you can put up and take down at every dock you use.

Use mooring whips on the lee side of the dock--the side that's protected from the wind. If the whips are fighting to hold your boat off the dock because of the wind, the combination of wind and waves from a wake can overpower them. If the docking location's winds shift during the day, make your landing on the side that's most often the lee side.

Tie your boat using spring lines, lines tied at an angle to form a "V" shape, in addition to the usual bow and stern lines. If you tie off at the breast (center) cleat of your boat, then the point of the "V" should be your boat. If you tie off with two bow and two stern spring lines, the dock should be at the point of each "V" shape. Your boat should be between 3 feet and 4 feet from the pier while at rest.

Grasp the eye in the end of the mooring whip line and pull the eye downward, toward the cleat on your boat's bow. Drop the eye over the cleat so the "horns" of the cleat hold the eye in place.

Pull the stern spring line of your boat inward, if necessary, to bring its side near the pier. Grasp the eye of the mooring whip line and pull it to the stern cleat. Drop the eye over the cleat and release the stern spring line.

Tips

  • Bow and stern lines can be used in close quarters to keep your boat from moving forward or backward in the dock, but spring lines are essential to the operation of mooring whips.
  • Rig a breast line from one cleat to the pier to pull your boat to the pier for boarding, unless you use a brow or gangplank.

Warnings

  • Whenever you board or leave a boat, wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type V personal flotation device.
  • Mooring whips are a nice touch, but put out fenders in case the wind shifts unexpectedly.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

Photo Credits

  • motor boat. power boat image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com