by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
It always seems your boat never has enough cleats to adequately tie your boat to the dock. Sometimes the cleats are so poorly located for your docking situation you have to be a contortionist to secure your boat in the slip. A missing cleat on the foredeck will certainly ruin your anchoring pleasure. Adding cleats can make your boating trips a lot easier.
There are many different styles of cleats. Some have only two mounting holes, the better have four. Select a style of cleat that is consistent with the others on the boat. Once again the best cleat to use is stainless. Make sure there is plenty of room to insert at least two dock lines of the size you normally use through the center of the cleat.
Choose a location for the new cleat that allows easy access to the underside of the deck. You will need this access to fasten the hardware and backing plates that will secure the cleat. If a location cannot be found with access, you can cut an opening and use a screw in deck plate to cover the access hole. Deck plates come in various sizes between 4 and 10 inches. Obtain the deck plate before cutting the hole so you will know the exact size hole to cut.
Use the cleat to mark the deck location for the four mounting holes. Drill the mounting holes using the proper size bit to provide a clearance hole required for the mounting hardware selected. Use only stainless steel machine screws, washers, lock washers, and fender washers as backing plates. If the new cleat will be required to hold a heavy load, an additional backing plate is needed to spread the load over a wider area. The backing plate should be a suitable thickness to support the forces exerted on the cleat. Apply a small amount of sealer to the underside of the mounting holes of the cleat. Place a small dab of sealer into the mounting holes on the deck and install the screws thru the cleat and into the deck. The sealer will keep water from entering from the deck. Place the fender washer, lock washer, and nut on the screw and tighten. The cleat is now ready to use.