Boat Dock Cleats

Article Contents

  1. Types of Boat Dock Cleats
  2. Things to Keep in Mind When Installing Dock Cleats
  3. Materials Needed for Dock Cleat Installation
  4. How to Install Dock Cleats on Different Types of Docks
  5. How to Tie a Boat to a Dock Cleat

Types of Boat Dock Cleats

Boat dock cleats should be both rust and weather-resistant, durable enough to withstand the constant strain of a boat being tied to it. Dock cleats are usually made of stainless steel, galvanized metal/aluminum, plastic or nylon and are available in a variety of styles. The following are just some of the most commonly used types of dock cleats.

  • Horn Cleats: These traditional-style cleats can be found on most docks and are designed with two "horns" on either end that can securely keep the rope in place. This is your standard style of dock cleat.
  • Flip-Up Cleats: These popular and convenient dock cleats flip up when in use and fold down when not in use, preventing trips and stubbed toes.
  • Solar Dock Cleats: These cleats are similar to traditional-style cleats, but they also feature a light on the top or side, making them a great choice for night or early morning boaters.
  • S-Style Cleats: These dock cleats utilize a wave shape that makes it incredibly simple to loop a rope around.

Things to Keep in Mind When Installing Dock Cleats

When considering where to mount boat cleats, there are some key things you'll need to keep in mind to ensure a safe, sturdy and reliable installation.

1. The Size of the Cleat Should Correspond to the Size Of the Boat

The size of your dock cleat needs to correspond to the actual size of your boat. If the cleat is too small or too large, it won't be able to reliably secure the boat.

2. The Number of Dock Cleats Also Depends on the Size Of the Boat

The actual number of dock cleats you'll need will depend on the size of your boat. You should always try to match your dock cleats up with where the corresponding boat cleats are located in order to get a more customized fit. If you plan on renting out your private dock space, a good rule of thumb is to space your dock cleats 7 to 10 feet apart to safely accommodate a variety of boat lengths.

3. Consider Cleats With Recessed Mounting Holes To Prevent Rubbing

If you're looking to prevent your boat from pulling away from the dock, look into dock cleats with recessed or flush mounting holes. These will keep the bolts away from the dock line, which will prevent that dreaded rubbing and general wear and tear.

Materials Needed for Dock Cleat Installation

Prior to dock cleat installation, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need to do the job safely and reliably. The following are all the materials required to complete your dock cleat installation.

  • Bolts, nuts and screws
  • Drill with appropriate metal or wood drill bits
  • Dock cleat(s)
  • Socket set
  • Hammer drill (for use on concrete seawalls)
  • Tapcon masonry screws (for use on concrete seawalls)
  • Wrench or pliers

How to Install Dock Cleats on Different Types of Docks

Installing dock cleats can be a bit nerve-wracking because the safety and security of your boat depend on a good installation. But if you have the right tools and follow the instructions, it's a pretty simple process.

Please Note: The following instructions should be considered a high-level guide to installing dock cleats on different styles of docks. Keep in mind that each style of dock cleat will have its own unique installation process, whether you're installing it on your boat or dock. Be sure to always follow the instruction manual or recommended installation process from the manufacturer.

Installing Boat Dock Cleats on a Concrete Seawall

While dock cleats are most commonly installed on wooden boat docks, they can easily be installed on concrete seawalls as well. Keep in mind that installation will require a bit more drill power than wooden docks.

Before attaching your dock cleats, you'll want to measure out and decide where you want to place them. This will alleviate any headaches during installation.

Once you've decided on your dock cleat placement, ensure you have Tapcon masonry screws on hand. These heavy-duty screws utilize special threads that can be inserted into pre-drilled holes in either concrete or brick. The screw can then be embedded into concrete by gently tapping the threads through the material surrounding the hole. Use a hammer drill to pre-drill your hole into the concrete, and then slowly insert your Tapcon screw through the boat dock cleat and into the concrete seawall.

Installing Boat Dock Cleats on a Wooden Dock

Installing a boat dock cleat onto a wooden dock is a little easier. That being said, you should install it with as much care and precision as you would if installing it into a concrete seawall.

First, you'll want to decide on your dock cleat placement before actually drilling into the dock. This will allow you to make changes without having to fully uninstall your boat dock cleat. Ensure you have lag bolts on hand. To determine how long your bolt needs to be, inspect and measure the thickness of the wood on your dock.

Installing Boat Dock Cleats on a Metal Dock

If you're installing boat dock cleats on a metal dock, you'll want to use a carriage bolt. For a more secure hold, be sure to install the cleat into the dock's frame as opposed to just the deck, if possible.

How to Tie a Boat to a Dock Cleat

Once you've completed the installation process, it's important to understand how to tie a boat to a dock cleat properly. While there are dozens of knots you can use, the most common (and one of the most secure) is the figure eight hitch knot or the figure eight cleat hitch. This type of knot is typically utilized with traditional-style horn cleats.

  1. Begin by pulling your dock line snug. Then, pull the line around and under the dock cleat, wrapping the line under the far horn.
  2. Next, complete one full wrap around the base of the cleat.
  3. Now, cross over the top of the cleat diagonally to the opposite side.
  4. Then, pass the line under the nearest horn and cross over the top of the cleat diagonally again.
  5. After this, pass the line under the far horn once again (forming your figure eight). You can then cross the cleat diagonally to the nearest horn, making sure not to pass the line under the nearest horn.
  6. In order to keep it from coming undone, you'll want to then drop a half hitch over the nearest horn. Form a loop by turning the free end of the line under the section coming from the far horn.
  7. Finally, lower the loop (hitch) over the nearest horn. The line should be coming off the horn at the opposite end from where you started. Pull the line tight to snug the hitch and you're done!

Secure Your Boat With Confidence With Dock Cleats From Boat & RV

Whether you're upgrading your own dock or preparing a boat dock for rentals, boat dock cleats are the smart way to keep a boat securely in place. At Boat & RV Accessories, we carry an impressive selection of dock cleats for boats and docks alike. Shop products from trusted brands like Attwood, Sea-Dog and more! Not sure which dock cleat is right for you? Reach out today and our team will help find the best dock cleats for your needs.

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