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Tiding the ends of docklines

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What is the issue?
Excess mooring warps have a tendency to be untidy, cluttering decks and pontoons and to be very uncomfortable to walk on. Coiling them does help but they remain a bulky item by a mooring cleat.

Why address this?
Primarily, this looks untidy and does nothing for boat pride when alongside. Stumbling uncomfortably over excess warp ends is a nuisance, and stepping on a loose line can be dangerous like stepping on marbles.

How to address this?
If it is a short-term stay alongside, roll in the excess of the dock lines that are laying about into a Flemish Flake. Stepping on a flemished line is like stepping on a mat. It also protects your lines from unnecessary wear and tear and helps preserve the lay of twisted rope.

A flemished three strand dockline on a pontoon
Photo: CC0

Flemishing a line only takes a few minutes and it makes the vessel and its crew look ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’. It took its name from the Flemish people of Belgium who were great fishermen in their day ranging across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. To make a flemish coil take the end of a line and lay it in a tight flat spiral on the deck. The easiest way to make it is to start at the centre and rotate the whole coil on the deck until all the line is taken up into the coil in a nice tight circle. You can also start at the outside and work toward the centre.

The Flemish is best done on the boat deck where there should be less footfall
Photo: CC0

You should avoid forming the flemish on the dock or pontoon as it is likely to get more footfall and collect more dirt. Flemishing should only be used when a boat is alongside for a short stay overnight, or a day or two at the most. It is not good to walk on the line for an extended period and it just collects dirt over the long term, even on the boat, plus it leaves a spiral coil pattern of a stain on the deck. The moisture will deteriorate the rope's strength, and any teak decking beneath. For longer stays keep the free end of the dock line off the deck, coil it and hang it from a guardrail.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

Two ways to Flemish a Line

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