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For the uninitiated, “boat slip” and “boat dock” may mean the same thing. While both slips and docks are places where a boat is tied to land, they share a few key differences. When you pull a yacht into a marina, you have the choice between a boat slip or boat dock. Depending on your vessel and docking needs, one option may be better for you than the other. Before you decide, know the differences between a boat slip versus a dock.

What Is a Boat Slip?

A boat slip, sometimes referred to as a dock slip, resembles a parking spot for a car in that it is a section of dock space contained on three sides. Typical dock slips can fit two boats, with each vessel attached to the dock on two sides. Private boat slips are meant to house only one boat, that boat is attached to the dock on all its sides except for its stern or bow, depending on how it pulled into the slip.

What’s the Difference Between a Boat Slip vs Boat Dock?

The main difference between a boat slip and a boat dock is that a slip is only open on one end, while a dock is open on three sides. A boat goes into a slip and is surrounded by walkways on its bow, port, and starboard sides. A boat is “parked” against the side of a dock, which means the boat is only attached to the dock on either its port or starboard side.

  • PRO – Slips offer more protection from waves; being moored on multiple sides means your boat is more secure.
  • CON – Slips are more expensive than docks, whether you are renting docking space at a marina or building docks at your waterfront home.
  • PRO – Slips accommodate more boats which makes them the docking option of choice for most marinas.
  • PRO – Slips make it easier and safer to board your boat by not requiring stairs or ladders.
  • PRO – Navigating in and out of a dock is and much easier process compared to getting out of a slip.
  • PRO – Docks take up less space which is preferable for those with waterfront homes.
  • PRO – Docks are typically the cheaper option in marinas as well as residential dock space.
  • CON – Docks will often require boarding stairs for safe access to your boat.

Whether a boat slip or boat dock is the best option for your boat largely depends on your vessel, the time you will spend docked, and other docking needs. The choice is up to you.

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