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How to Connect a Floating Dock to Land

Will Charpentier

Tethering your floating dock to your property can pose some problems. As environmental factors such as tides or increased rain make the water rise and fall, your dock will do the same. Horizontal movements of the water, such as wind-driven lake currents, will try to pull your floating dock away from your property.


For locations with extreme weather conditions, tie your dock with one-inch Kevlar woven with eyes spliced in either end, rather than nylon line. Remember that nylon line, when placed under a strain, will stretch up to 140 percent of its original length.


Kevlar line loses a large part of its strength when wrapped around a cleat multiple times.

Although nylon line stretches, it also snaps back when it parts. A blow from a snapped-back nylon line can cause severe injury or death.

The connection between your dock and the shore must have the same flexibility as the connection between a boat and a pier. With a bit of time and effort—and your boat building skills—you can connect your floating dock to your backyard in short order.

  1. With a measuring tape, determine the width of the dock segment that joins the shore.

  2. Find solid earth as near to the shore as possible. Dig two holes into that solid earth, parallel to the shoreline, with the gasoline-powered post hole digger and auger, in accordance with the operating instructions for the post hole digger. Space the holes apart at least four feet greater than the width of the dock segment that joins the shore.

  3. Fill the holes with concrete to form footings. Before the concrete sets completely, set a dock cleat in the middle of each concrete footing, then insert the anchor bolts through the bolt holes in the base of the cleats. Screw the nuts onto the anchor bolts, then push the anchor bolts into the concrete until the nuts touch the base of the cleat. Allow the concrete to cure completely before continuing.

  4. Drill holes in the decking of the floating dock to accommodate the installation of the ship cleats. Use the base of the cleat as a template for drilling the holes. Place one cleat on each corner of the side of the dock nearest the shore. Attach the ship cleats to the dock, using the adjustable wrench to tighten the ship cleat bolts and nuts.

  5. Cut two pieces of nylon line to a length twice that of the distance between a dock cleat and a ship cleat. Wrap one end of one length of nylon line three times around one ship cleat, then make one or two figure-eight turns around the horns of the cleat, tucking the end of the line under the last figure-eight turn. Secure the other end of the nylon line around the dock cleat in the same manner. Repeat this process with the second length of nylon line on the other ship cleat and dock cleat.