The Blue View - Flaking the Dock Lines

flaked line After Nine of Cups is secured to a dock, jetty or finger pier, and the lines are all tied, there is always some excess dock line to deal with. Ideally, it should be flaked so that the line can be run out quickly, without tangling, in the event of an emergency. If the boat next to us is on fire or we just got a tsunami warning, I don't want to spend an extra few minutes untangling knots in my dock lines.

The most common method is to just neatly coil the line  in loops. This is quick, and easy, and if the line is short, it can be run out or untied from the cleat quickly. If the line is longer, it is often coiled in a figure 8 pattern, which prevents the line from kinking or tangling as it is uncoiled.

figure eight pattern

Another method is to use a daisy chain, aka a chain sinnet, to shorten the line. This makes an attractive chain that can be un-knotted, without tangles, by pulling on the end. It is an easy knot to tie, and Grog's Animated Knots shows how.

chain sinnet

Many yachties like to use a Flemish flake. The line is coiled in a tight spiral on the deck or dock, and the end result is quite pleasing. It does have a few disadvantages, however. It cannot be quickly uncoiled without introducing a number of kinks and tangles; it doesn't dry out easily; and people have a tendency to walk on it, grinding dirt into the fibers.

flemish flake

As we were walking up the dock the other day, I noticed that a Swiss flagged boat berthed near us, the Omoo-Faa, had a different method of flaking his docklines – one I hadn't seen before. Marcie took a picture of it (she almost always has her camera with her), and I spent an hour or so when we got back figuring it out and messing around with it. It looks quite attractive and seamanly. By pulling on the end, the coil runs out with nary a kink. The tight coils will probably still take longer to dry out, but the finished coil doesn't look like a mat, so maybe people will be less inclined to stand on it. The following photos show how to do it.

flake collage

BVFlake Collage2

There hasn't been anyone aboard the Omoo-Faa, so I haven't been able to ask the skipper about it.  I don't know the origin, whether the owner invented it or learned it from someone else and whether it has a name. If any of you salts out there have any information about this method of flaking a line, I'd be pleased to hear from you.