I’ve seen some claims lately for vessels that are damaged or lost due to chafed mooring lines and dock lines. I’ve also noticed more claims that cite increased damage to hulls as a result of old, worn out or damaged fendering. I even saw a claim recently where a bottom chain wore through and failed. 

Some cases are unavoidable, but in others a bit of preparation or routine maintenance may have eliminated or greatly reduced the potential for a damaged or lost vessel.

How many of you have a regular checklist for dock lines? Have you got extra dock lines readily available? I am not talking about old lines that you keep around just in case. I’m talking about dock lines that are OK for full service.

Mooring lines can go from good to bad in a matter of a few days. The seas and Great Lakes are unkind during serious wind situations. We also receive good weather warnings. Thus, it should be easy to get out and check on a vessel as soon as we hear that a big blow is heading in. This gives you time to check mooring lines, double chafe them or add double lines, and throw out a storm anchor. Even better, you can move the vessel to a safe harbor or other hurricane hole. 

By the time you hear that a storm is on the way it’s too late to check the bottom chain. It’s a good idea to have a diver check all bottom chain at least once a year. If any wear is showing, replace the chain with good U.S.-made chain and don’t skimp on any fittings. Use high-grade U.S-made components.

Vessels that are tied to floats or a dock are subject to hull damage if some sort of fender does not hold them off. Again we often seem to use worn out, flat, badly sized fenders that are, in many cases, poorly positioned. Again, this is so easy to remedy. 

I’ve been with owners who have lost their vessels and have no money coming in. There’s no to need to pay such a high price when simple, low-cost fixes are available. 

A collection of stories from guest authors.