What is the Difference Between Dock and Harbour

The main difference between dock and harbour is that dock is an enclosed area of water in a harbour for the loading, unloading, and repair of ships, whereas a harbour is a place on the coast where ships may safely moor.

Dock and harbour are two very similar words that are associated with ships and cargo. Although we sometimes use these two words interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between these two words.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Dock 
     – Definition, Features, Function
2. What is a Harbour
     – Definition, Features, Function
3. Difference Between Dock and Harbour
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Harbour, Dock

Difference Between Dock and Harbour - Comparison Summary

What is a Dock

A dock is an enclosed area of water in a harbour for the loading, unloading, and repair of ships. It is possible to create this type of structure by building enclosing harbour walls into an existing natural water body. There are several types of docks as dry docks, wet docks, and floating dry docks.

Compare Dock and Harbour  - What's the difference?

Figure 1: Dry Dock

In a wet dock, the water is held by dock gates or by a lock (a device for raising and lower watercraft), allowing ships to remain afloat at low tide in places with high tidal ranges. Despite the rising and falling of tides, the level of water is maintained in the dock. A dry dock, on the other hand, is another type of dock that has dock gates. In this type of dock, the water can be removed to allow investigation and maintenance of the underwater parts of ships. Floating docks are submersible structures that lift ships out of the water, allowing dry-docking when no land-based facilities are available.

What is a Harbour

A harbour is a place that is located on the coast where ships, boats, barges, etc., can be moored safely. The origin of the word harbour is the Old English word “herebeorg” meaning shelter or refuge. Therefore, as this meaning suggests, a harbour provides safe shelter and anchorage for ships. It also allows the transfer of passengers and cargo between the ship and the land. Moreover, a harbour should be deep enough to keep a ship from touching the bottom and should also have enough room for boats and ships to move around.

Dock vs Harbour

Figure 2: Capri Harbour

A harbour can be natural or artificial. A natural harbour is a place that is naturally surrounded by land on several sides. Moreover,  Pearl harbour in Hawaii, Sydney harbour in Australia, Trincomalee harbour in Sri Lanka, New York harbour and San Francisco in the United States are some examples of natural harbours in the world. An artificial harbour, on the other hand, is not a natural formation. Wadi al-Jarf, on the Red Sea coast built during (2600-2550 BC),  is considered to be the oldest artificial harbour in the world. Meanwhile, Debel Ali harbour in Dubai is the largest artificial harbour in the world. Throughout history, harbours have played a role in strategic naval and economic importance.

Difference Between Dock and Harbour

Definition

A dock is an enclosed area of water in a harbour for the loading, unloading, and repair of ships, whereas a harbour is a place on the coast where ships may safely moor in for shelter.

Natural vs Harbour

Docks are man-made structures, whereas harbours may be natural or artificial.

Location

A harbour is located in a place on the coast, whereas a dock is usually located inside a harbour.

Function

Docks are for loading, unloading, and repair of ships, while harbours provide safe shelter and anchorage for ships and allow the transfer of passengers and cargo between the ship and the land.

Conclusion

The main difference between dock and harbour is that dock is an enclosed area of water in a harbour for the loading, unloading, and repair of ships, whereas a harbour is a place on the coast where ships may safely moor. Moreover, harbours can be either natural or artificial structures, whereas docks are not natural structures.

Reference:

1. “Harbor.” National Geographic Education.
2. “Dock.” Wikimedia. Wikimedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Vuosaari shipyard 20160316” By Tuomas Romu – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Capri harbour from Anacapri 2013” By Berthold Werner (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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