How to Tie Your Boat to a Dock that has a Bull Rail – Part 2

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2

A quick and easy way to tie your boat to a Bull Rail

This is a quick and easy way to tie a boat to a dock that has a Bull Rail.  This was passed on last week by a friend.

Some docks only have a Bull Rail so being able to properly and safely tie a boat to a  dock that has  a Bull Rail is an important skill to have.

This method uses a loop of the dock line passed around the Bull Rail and back to a cleat on the boat.  This  quick release method lets the crew stay on the boat when they release the boat from the Bull Rail.

  • Pass a loop in the dock line coming from the boat under the Bull Rail, this will have the line over the Bull Rail as it is led back to a cleat on the boat.  The  crew can easily cast off the mooring lines from the boat.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-1

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Pass a loop under the Bull Rail

Secure the end of the dock line to the cleat on the boat by passing the eye of the dock line through the center of the cleat and loop the eye over one end of the cleat.

Pass a loop in the line from your boat UNDER the Bull Rail.This is also how the line will look when you leave the dock. 

When casting off release the cleat, CAREFULLY pull a bit of slack in the line to allow you to take the loop (see below) off the cleat and flip the loop onto the dock and pull the dock line back onto the boat.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-2

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Bring the loop back to the cleat


Bring the loop back over the Bull Rail and back to a cleat on the boat.

When the dock line starts under the Bull Rail – the dock line can be thrown onto the dock and the line should feed back nicely to the boat.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-3

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Bring the loop back to the cleat and drop the loop over the base of the cleat


Put the loop around the base of the cleat on the boat.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-4

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Wrap the bitter end around the base of the cleat

Wrap the bitter end of the dock line around the base of the cleat. 

The dock line should go around the far end of the cleat from the direction of the load.

How to tie a Cleat.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-5

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Finished with the dock line secured to the cleat


Secure the dock line  to the cleat with several figure eights.

Use only ONE Weather Hitch, many people just put several extra “Eights” on the cleat with no weather hitch if they are just stopping for fuel or are planning for a quick get away.

How-to-Tie-Your Boat-to-a-Bull-Rail–Part-2-Step-6

Tying Your Boat to a Bull Rail – The view from the dock showing the routing of the line around the base of the Bull Rail


This is a different view of the Bull Rail showing the how the dock line leads around the base of the Bull Rail   

The dock line in this case is working as both a stern line and a spring line.

I hope these tips help make your boating experience easier and safer.

Please see How to Tie Your Boat to a Bull Rail – Part 1 for more  information and instructions on tying your boat to a dock that has a Bull Rail.

Please see How to Tie a Cleat for more information and instructions on tying a cleat.

Thanks much to Ron “Buck” Buckley for showing me this trick.  Buck has been a long time boater, boat owner, boat racer (fast power boats) and is  crew qualified in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Thanks for your interest in and support of Boating Safety.

- c/m -

This entry was posted in Boating Safety, Sailing and Boating Skills and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How to Tie Your Boat to a Dock that has a Bull Rail – Part 2

  1. cboatlady says:

    Thank you great article!

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