Mooring Whips

Necessary or Not?

FSF Staff August 5, 2009

For those of you who keep your most prized possession docked behind your home, mooring whips are essential for keeping your vessel safe and sound. Without a pair of whips, even multiple fenders and the strongest dock lines will not guarantee your boat doesn’t ‘bounce’ against the dock and jeopardize its lustrous finish. Without the protection, it is inevitable that wakes from passing by boats and breezy conditions will eventually scuff and potentially damage your rubrail or worse yet, your expensive gelcoat. Jagged, barnacle-encrusted pilings and concrete seawalls are, in fact, unforgiving.

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Photo: FSF Mag

Safe boaters shouldn’t overlook the fact that mooring whips are just one element of complete docking protection. Utilizing the appropriate length and tensile strength dock lines, and properly securing your vessel with bow, stern and spring lines all work together for safe mooring.

...the minimal investment and short amount of work involved with the installation of mooring whips will help you sleep better at night.

I recently contracted Pompano Beach’s Mooring Products Worldwide, a leader in mooring whip sales and installation here in South Florida, to install a pair of heavy-duty mooring whips. With a newly applied boat wrap, the last thing I wanted was my Strike rubbing against the dock. While the installation of mooring whips can definitely be a do it yourself job with only a drill and a couple of wrenches, I chose to have a professional complete the project so I could photograph and document the entire process.

I learned that step one is selecting the proper whips for your size craft. Typically, 12, 16 or 18-foot poles will get the job done, with one-piece fiberglass poles the best option. The next decision was the base units that actually hold the fiberglass poles. The options are standard angled bases or heavy-duty bases equipped with a rubber coupling for maximum flexibility. The last decision was the tip, with a smooth operating roller system the ideal choice for me.
If you are emotionally attached to your boat like I am, the minimal investment and short amount of work involved with the installation of mooring whips will help you sleep better at night.

The Installation
Determine precisely where on the dock the mooring whip base units need to be mounted in order provide maximum protection. Ideally, you’ll want the stern base unit mounted directly in-line with the stern cleat, and the bow base unit mounted in-line with your vessel’s forward cleat. Installed on an angle to the cleats, and you risk the chance of damaging the poles.

With heavy-duty poles, such as the 18-footers’ I selected; it’s a good idea to utilize some sort of backing plate rather than bolting the base unit directly through a plank on the dock. A 12-inch length of weatherproof 2×4 lumber does the job nicely; just remember that you will need long enough bolts to go through the base unit, the plank on the dock and through the backing lumber. (It’s easier to remove the poles from the base units prior to mounting, and don’t forget to utilize nothing less than high-grade stainless steel hardware.)
Once the mounts are bolted into position, the poles can be reinserted and the mooring whips prepared for final installation. All that’s left is tying your boat out and determining the proper length of line on the mooring whips to securely hold your vessel two to three-feet away from the dock.

Mooring Whip Options

  • Standard duty mooring whips consisting of 12-foot poles are typically rated for boats up to 23-feet in length or approximately 5,000 lbs. in weight.
  • Standard 16-foot poles are ideal for 30-foot boats with a maximum weight of 20,000 lbs. and standard 18-foot mooring whips are reserved for vessels up to 45-feet and 30,000 lbs.
  • 16-foot heavy-duty poles are rated for vessels to 49-feet and 39,000 lbs. and finally heavy-duty 18-foot poles can handle vessels to 60-feet and 60,000 lbs.

Base Selection
Standard mooring whips are equipped with fixed angle mounts and are ideally suited for use with small walk-around and center console type fishing boats.

Heavy-duty whips are equipped with a rubber rocker arm base, which pulls the whip up and out of the way when not in use. This is an ideal setup for larger sportfish and center consoles with towers.

Top Tips
A roller tip system will enable you to adjust the whips from the dock for easy boarding. Add plastic cleats on the poles and you have the ultimate, user-friendly mooring whip setup.

Hurricane Help

It is no secret that here in the Sunshine State boaters are prone to major hurricanes with damaging winds exceeding 100-knots. While mooring whips are helpful for keeping your boat safely away from the dock, they are not rated for hurricane protection and the proper measures should always be taken to ensure your vessel weathers the storm damage free.

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