Shore Up Your Cords


For boaters whose boats are equipped with 110V to power their electrical devices and appliances, Shore Cords are a must!

How do you run the shore cord from the power post to the power inlet fitting on your boat?

How do you do it so that it not only supplies power, but also is safe—safe so it won’t harm you, your guests, your boat or others?

There are a few things to consider  to Shore up Your Cords.


It is important to use shore cords approved for marine applications. Unapproved cords are dangerous and should not be used.  Also inspect for any damage to the cable and replace if necessary to avoid any stray current. Stray electrical current in the water is dangerous. Boaters or pets falling in or swimming in a harbour where there is stray current will most likely die of electric shock drowning. It is invisible and deadly.

shore-cord-through-crackThe power pedestals/posts in marinas are positioned in the center of the slip so that two boats can access power without the need for cords to be strung across the fingers.

If, for some reason, you have to run your cord across a finger, be sure that it will not be damaged and that no one will trip on it or step on it. You can string it under the finger tying it up so that it won’t lay in the water, or string it between the boards on the finger if there is space.


The cord should be below the surface of the dock so that no one can step on it; but, do not lay the shore cord in the hinge between the finger and the dock. Floating docks move up and down and the fingers move from side to side in a wind pinching the Shore Cord and eventually breaking the cable coating. In many cases, the hinges are steel and the dock framing is steel. When the Shore Cord wears, the wire is exposed to the dock, and the whole dock becomes live, leaking electical current into the water. This is a recipe for disaster. See Stray Electrical Currrent.

Always unplug the shore end of the Shore Cord first; then the boat end. DO NOT UNPLUG in the reverse order. You don’t want a live Shore Cord on the dock. When plugging your boat in, always plug into the boat first, then the dock. See Which End do you plug in first.

Extra cable, if not coiled properly, can be hazardous to boaters walking on the docks. So, be sure to coil it loosely around the power post.

When travelling, some boaters prefer to coil up their shore cord each time and place it in the locker. Some like to leave it laying down the side of the boat for short trips and others prefer to tie it to their finger dock for the season.

Reduce Clutter

To reduce dock clutter, I like to tie my shore cord under the dock out of sight above the water or between the boards on the finger dock (not in the hinge). The major safety benefit is that it’s not on the dock surface lurking for someone to step on it and roll out from under their foot or shoe.

We’ve seen people when docking, jump off their boat and step onto a shore cord. The shore cord rolls out from under their foot resulting in a serious fall. A shore cord on the surface is like stepping on a roller skate or a hand full of marbles—it rolls out from underneath you.


For the majority of the summer, most boaters just take short jaunts of a few hours here and a few hours there away from the home marina; and for this period of time, there is no need to take your shore cord. Just unplug the shore end, then the boat end and go. Then, when you return from your outing, plug in the boat end first, then the shore end.

shoe-cord-under-dockMost finger docks are high enough above the water and with enough framework that you can suspend your shore cord under the finger dock from a series of short pieces of light line. You can use light poly or light nylon, metal “S” hooks, bent coat hangers, shrink wrap cord, bungie cords, long wire ties—whatever works for you. Be sure the cord does not hang in the water. The only time it really needs to be removed is when you’re going on a long trip or for the winter. It’s neater and safer to secure it off the dock surface.

Loop the extra cord around the outlet post. If you find your cord is being disconnected by kids or other boaters, use a bungie cord or two to hold it into the outlet and discourage them. It gives the message, that it is to stay plugged in.

Support Your Cord

At the boat end, the weight of the cable should be supported and not hanging totally on the fitting. You can loop the cord through one of the rails, so the cable’s weight is supported by the rail or use a light piece of line to support the weight.

Larger yachts that run with two shore cords use various methods to reduce the clutter. Some boaters will join the two cables with intervals of either electrical tape or duct tape or nylon zip ties/wire wraps. I have even seen a long black nylon tube holding the 2 together that runs the full 50’.

Hidden shore cords are neater and less dangerous.

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