Posted on September 3, 2020

Boat Dock vs. Boat Slip: What is a Boat Slip?

Boat Dock vs. Boat Slip

Written by ShoreMaster Marketing

When you spend a lot of time on the waterfront, you hear a lot of nautical terms. One of those terms is “boat slip,” which is sometimes used interchangeably with “boat dock” or even “marina,” especially in the south. Many homes with lake docks will have docks and one or two slips.

The differences aren’t huge, and the terms are more regional than technical. While boat slips and boat docks will both give you a place to store your boat, there are some differences between the two, and those differences are worth noting to make sure that your set-up fits your lake dock.

ShoreMaster Vertical Lifts

The Basic Differences 

A boat dock is the actual structure of wood or metal where you’re parking the boat and putting boat dock accessories. Mooring at a boat dock means securing it parallel to the dock and leaving three sides open to the water. Sometimes a dock might have boat slips, which you can see if the dock looks like an F, T, L, or similar configuration (northern boaters will usually use it to describe a U shape in a dock where the dock is on both sides of the lift). A boat slip is more like a single parking space for your boat. They aren’t as open as boat docks are, but are easy to pull into, and they’re enclosed on three sides, so there’s only one way in and out.

Which One is Better?

Slips are the preferred choice of marinas—and for good reason. Slips allow more watercraft to be moored along a pier by creating more “parking spaces.” Slips also mean more mooring points to keep watercraft securely in place. Properly moored boats are kept in the middle of a slip, which can prevent extra bumping and grinding against the edge of a dock, and boarding the craft can be more secure. They’re a great choice for boat owners who want extra protection for their craft, especially if you own more than one craft, are in a high-traffic area, or might have visitors.

If you have a limited budget or space, an aluminum boat dock might be a better fit for you. The construction is easy, simple, and flexible, and a dock takes up less space on the water than a slip. A dock is also a fine choice for lake docks in secluded areas with just one boat, where traffic and bumping aren’t as much of a concern. And if you don’t have a boat at all, or prefer to park yours in a public marina, you might be fine without a slip because a dock can still be a great place to relax and entertain, with or without a boat.

ShoreMaster Aluminum Boat Docks

ShoreMaster’s premium docks have the quality that can only come from decades of waterfront expertise. Our aluminum boat docks are lightweight, durable, and have the greatest number of customization possibilities in the industry. You can have your dock layout be as simple as you need it to be, and you can decide to upgrade or add sections if you need something bigger or need to add a slip. For advice or recommendations about what will work for your set-up, contact a local ShoreMaster dealer.


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