How To Tie a Boat To a Dock Without Cleats? Only 4 Easy Steps

Have you ever attempted to anchor your boat without cleats? Many ports lack these crucial buildings, which may surprise you. However, if you know how to tie a boat to a dock without cleats, this should not be an issue.

How to safely attach your boat’s lines to dock cleats is one of the most critical things you should know before heading out on the water. Your boat is one of your most valuable things, and the last thing you want is for it to break free from the dock and float away.

Cleats are an important dock component for securing boats and other watercraft. There are, however, other buildings where a watercraft can be tied and secured. This article will give you some tips for mooring a boat on a cleatless dock.

how to tie a boat to a dock without cleats

A Dock Without Cleats

In boating, cleats are incredibly crucial. You’ve undoubtedly seen cleats if you’ve ever been on a boat, even if you don’t do it often. They’re almost ubiquitous, and they’re even used to secure a boat to a mooring buoy, but cleats aren’t always available.

It is critical to understand what alternatives are accessible to us in these instances. Pilings would be used instead of cleats on docks without them.

1. Pilings

Pilings are dock posts that are generally made of wood. There are often numerous of them, and the larger the dock, the more pilings. These pilings, like the scaffolding of a building, constitute the basis of the dock construction itself.

These pilings are always there since they serve as the dock’s foundation. The pilings must, however, extend above the dock itself to secure the boat to the pier. The pilings can be a few feet long and vary in length, and docks without extended pilings are uncommon.

Using pilings to attach a boat to 4 pilings is still regarded optimum since it gives adequate support for the boat in the event that the wind or water gets restless.

2. Dock Rings

Rings are another alternative for securing the boat to the pier. These rings attach to the dock in the same way as cleats do. The boat line can be immediately attached to them, just like cleats or pilings.

It is not usually essential to tie the rope to dock rings. Some individuals just connect lines to their boat’s cleats after going through the rings.


A rope, line, or cable is all you  need to secure your boat to a cleat-less pier. I’m assuming you already have these items in your boat. In such a case, you’ll also need to brush up on your knot-tying skills.

A clove hitch, for example, is ideal for tying the boat to a railing or dock ring. The bowline is a more versatile knot that may be used to secure practically anything to a robust foundation. A pile hitch knot is a smart bet if the port only has pilings or posts.

A figure-8 knot is good for fastening a boat to its berth, whereas a square knot is good for bundling goods and connecting two lines. An anchor bend is great for boat owners who desire the safest way to tie up their vessels. It might be difficult to create, but it is well worth the effort.

The double half hitch, sheet bend knot, wagoner’s hitch, and alternative clove hitch are some other knots to learn and master.

Practicing these knots at home before heading out into the water is recommended

Read more: Inboard vs Outboard Saltwater? Which One Is Better For You

How To Tie a Boat to a Dock Without Cleats

Step 1: Practice making bowline knot

The first thing you need is practicing making the bowline knot until you become a master. Without cleats in the dock, the bowline is the most practical and secure way to tie a boat to a piling. Although it is a basic knot, boaters prefer it because it does not readily loosen. Undoing the knot, though, is a breeze.

The bowline is useful not only for anchoring a boat to a piling, but also for dock rings. You may alternatively tie the knot ahead of time and place it over the post once you are at the berth.

You can tie a boat to a dock overnight and return the next day sure that it is still in its berth if you use the bowline knot.

A bowline knot may also be adjusted to suit different applications while maintaining its ease of usage and security. You might be shocked to find that pilots use this knot to secure their little planes.

How do you tie a bowline knot, exactly?

To make a tiny loop, wrap the rope around a piling or post and catch the cable’s end portion before crossing the long end over itself. After that, enter the short end of the rope into the loop, then repeat after bringing the short end over the rope. Finally, tighten the knot by pulling the line.

Step 2: Master a Clove Hitch.

The clove hitch knot, which is also suited for railings and dock rings, is another way for securing a boat between pilings. The clove hitch, like the bowline knot, is simple to do and undo. The only disadvantage is that it might loosen even when no weight is applied to it. The knot on your boat should be secure.

When mooring to load and unload goods, many boaters prefer the clove hitch to the bowline. It is one of the greatest knots to use because of its simplicity of application and removal.

The steps for creating a clove hitch are as follows.

Wrap the rope over the railing, dock ring, or piling first, making sure the long end is above the short end. Grab the short end and wrap it around the long end of the rope before looping it around the piling again. Finally, draw the short end as tightly as possible through the connecting lines.

This knot, like the bowman’s, can be prepared ahead of time. Make a loop over the short part using the long end. Form a second loop using the short section, making sure the short end is under the long line. Place the second loop on top of the first and wrap it around a post or piling.

Step 3: Study how to make a pile hitch.

If you need to attach a boat to a mooring, the pile hitch knot is your best choice. Making a rope fold and wrapping the resultant loop around the post is required. This approach is ideal for pilings and similar structures, but it should not be used indefinitely.

The only drawback is that the rope must be long enough.

You’ll need to fold a lengthy stretch of rope before winding the folded line around the post or piling to create a double line. Wrap the loop around the vertical structure or piling by folding the folded end beneath itself. To tighten the pile hitch knot, pull on the rope.

Step 4: Secure your boat to a piling using your preferred method.

Make your way to your berth and onto the dock, making sure you don’t strike anything. As you carefully drive your boat towards the mooring place, keep an eye on the water, wind, and current conditions. Take it easy.

If cleats aren’t accessible, secure your boat to a piling, post, railing, or dock ring. The bowline and clove hitch knots are good for practically every mooring construction, so keep that in mind. I propose using a pile hitch knot if the pier only has posts or pilings.


It is good to be prepared for many eventualities when participating in marine activities. Knowing how to tie a boat to a pier without cleats will come in helpful at some point, albeit we won’t know when. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and knowing a little more won’t harm.

Please forward this post to anybody else who is interested in learning how to utilize docks without cleats. Also, please provide your feedback in the box below.

Keep in mind to boat safely.

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