Boat Dock vs Boat Slip: What’s the Difference?
Whether you’re new to the waters or you’re a boating veteran, there are many nautical terms that you will undoubtedly come across. And if this sounds like you, chances are, you’ll have heard the phrases ‘boat slip’ and ‘boat dock’ flung around casually multiple times.
While the differences aren’t worlds apart, they are referred to as different things in some areas, so it’s a good idea to be aware of each term if you’re planning on mooring your boat in different locations.
If you’re ready to learn the lingo and be able to differentiate between the two, you’ve come to the right place. Boat slip vs dock? We’ve got you covered.
What is a Boat Slip?
When you pull your watercraft into a marina, you can either slip or dock it. To better understand, a slip has one open end on a marina, which means the boat simply slips into it—hence the name. Slips typically offer more protection to your vehicle, too, as they can reduce the bumps that usually happen when docking traditionally.
When you dock your boat in a slip, you’ll place it between two walkways, the third in front. Marinas almost always have slips, and one major reason for this is that they save space. This means they can have more boats moored, with slips helping to protect each vehicle.
These are the reasons they are usually the moor of choice in marinas, and many boat owners prefer this method of parking their vehicles. Offering extra security, it’s common to see owners of multiple crafts in a high-traffic area opt to moor their boats in this fashion.
What Makes it Different From a Dock?
The difference between a dock and a slip is very subtle, but nevertheless, boat owners have their own preferred method of mooring. A dock differs from a slip most immediately in that it is open on three sides. This means the vehicle will only dock against one strip of land in comparison to an enclosed slip. This difference can often make docks less secure than slips because they have less shelter from grinds, bumps, and waves. However, they’re less restrictive for larger vessel sizes.
Docks also have limited numbers of boats that can moor due to them having slightly less protection and the fact that they usually park parallel to the dockside.
Boat Slip Pros
While both mooring options have their own advantages, you want to understand which is better for your situation. Here are the pros of a boat slip:
They Offer More Protection
While this has already been mentioned, the protection of your boat is probably your top priority. Compared to boat docks, slips have better wave action shelter, and when moored properly, they are typically more secure – especially when the water is slightly rougher than usual. Slips have the capacity to lighten the wave action towards the shore where they shelter.
They Have More Mooring Points
Boat slips offer boat owners more mooring points. This makes the space able to hold the vehicle securely.
Boat Dock Pros
For the advantages of the boat dock:
They Are Cheaper
When comparing boat docks to slips, you’ll find that they are typically much more affordable. This is because their construction is simpler and easier. Due to this large benefit, they are generally very popular with homeowners due to their simplicity, flexibility, and cost.
They Are Stable
Like slips, a dock is a stable mooring method when you want to park your boat. They’re also extremely easy to maintain, probably more so than a slip. They’re also a great option for when you want to park your craft in deeper waters.
How to Choose the Right Slip
Your boat slip needs to make it effortless for your watercraft to get in and out. It needs plenty of water around it, and there should be a hook-up for water and power in a convenient place. You should also make sure that the water depth is ideal for a slip.
For example, waters that aren’t deep enough can be a problem as you need enough inside the slip to be able to clear the propellors. To find out the water depth, use a long pole and submerge. You also need it to be an adequate height. High fixed slips make it easier to disembark the craft from the side deck in marinas.
How to Choose the Right Dock
Before you go ahead and purchase your ideal dock, you need to be aware of the rules and regulations of your state. There may also be local restrictions you need to adhere to. For example, some private lakes only allow floating docks.
You also need to consider the reasons why you need a dock. So, you’ll need to think about the shape, size, and style of the model. For example, do you need a larger sundeck to accommodate lots of guests? If you’re only using the dock to get on and off your boat, simplicity is best.
And, if you own more than one boat, you’ll need to consider the ergonomics: how easy is it to get on and off your crafts? Furthermore, if you want to tie your vehicle up to the dock, you’ll need to make sure that it is longer than the watercraft.
Contact Us Today
Knowing your mooring options for your watercraft is essential for proper boating techniques. While your boat may fit perfectly alongside a straight dock, not every slip will fit it like a glove.
If you’re thinking of adding a dock or slip to your property and are in need of any top-grade materials or tools, find one of your local Decks & Docks dealers to get started. Our team is also ready to provide any docking expertise you may need to ensure your time on the water is the best it can be, so contact us today!
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James Hertler has served professional builders and homeowners on the Jersey Shore since 2006. With decades of industry experience, his team provides deep product knowledge and specialized service. Professional deck builders and marine contractors will find that they understand the business and work hard to make every job run smoothly. Homeowners working independently or with a contractor will find him a great resource from planning to delivery. All of their customers will find that James goes the extra mile to help turn a construction project into a beautiful outdoor living space.