The well-chosen dock is more than a spot to fish from or a place to tie up your boat: It’s a thing of beauty. Photo courtesy of True Harbor.
This dock is usually constructed out of plastic or other non-wood material. It is generally inexpensive and installation is fairly straightforward.
Well-suited to deep water or mucky bottoms, this dock type doesn’t require much in the way of a support structure and can be secured solely to the shore, meaning there is no contact with the bottom at all.
Floating docks are also a good choice for people on reservoir lakes with fluctuating depths or on busy waterways who are often battered by large waves and wakes. Since the dock floats on top of the water, the amount of freeboard (space between dock and water) stays constant – which means your dock won’t end up underwater or high and dry. This dock is also particularly attractive to people wishing to minimize the environmental impact a dock will make on their lake bottom.
A common concern about floating docks is stability. Instability is, however, often the result of common installation errors. Also, if you decide to go with a floating dock, keep in mind that most dock builders recommend a minimum size of 6 feet wide by 20 feet long – wider is more stable.
Many manufacturers feel that floating docks work at their full potential when kept in the water year-round, but if shifting ice is an issue at your cabin, they can be removed seasonally.
This type of dock is basically a platform suspended above the water by metal support legs or pipes. This
keeps the dock at a constant height, no matter what happens on the water. This can be both a blessing and a curse, however.
Large waves will pass right under the dock, helping to extend the dock’s life, but fluctuations in water level could have you adjusting the height of your supports.
Due to its support structure, the standing dock can be built smaller than a floating dock without losing any stability. It also is an excellent choice for eco-conscious shoppers, as it makes minimal contact with the lake bottom and allows a good amount of sun through for underwater plant life.
For people who live in icy climates, standing docks generally have their metal foot plates swapped out for wheels, allowing an easy transition from water to storage on shore during the winter months – provided you have a gradual incline from water to land and a tree-free area to park the dock.
Other Dock Types
Additionally, you can sink long wood posts or metal pipes into the lake bottom to create a permanent dock structure, called a pile dock. However, due to the fact that the dock rests upon a supporting structure, it’s not advisable to use this type of dock in icy areas or in water deeper than 6 feet, as its stability will be compromised.
Cantilever and drawbridge docks are suspended over the water and attached to the shoreline. These docks are appealing to those with strong currents in their waters, and they also do very little damage to the water and lake bottom beyond your shoreline – since they never touch either. They work best in areas with steep slopes, but can be used in other areas too.
Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to head out and find the type of dock that’s perfect for your shoreline. A little research and planning up front will ensure that you’ll enjoy your dock and your stretch of beckoning water for years to come.
Andy Bennett doesn’t own a dock, but he has jumped off his fair share.