On the Water
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Question and Answer ArticleDock Advice

By Butch Williams
Published: December 1, 2005
Photo by ShoreStation, www.shorestation.com
Q: We’ve recently purchased a cottage on a lake in Pennsylvania, but need a new docking system. The one we have is wooden, very heavy and thus not easily removable. We have an 18-foot I/O ski boat that will be docked at the dock most of the season. We plan to use the dock to swim and fish from, as well. The waterway receives moderate boat traffic with some reasonable sized wakes. What docking system do you recommend that would be easily removable each year, stable, durable and safe? Any advice would be appreciated.
– Gary Pollock; via e-mail

A: You might be well served by a dock with wheels, which would allow the dock to easily be rolled in and out of the lake. But be aware that most roll-in docks only work in specific conditions. It is best to have a smooth, sloping shoreline that is not too steep or rocky. The lake bottom needs to be fairly solid and not over 8 feet deep. If your location meets this criteria, you would be a good candidate for a rolling dock.
If your location doesn’t meet this criteria, consider a standard, stationary, sectional dock. In most applications, it can be installed very quickly, with two people working section-by-section. Complete layouts, with accessories, can be installed in less than 30 minutes.
With any dock purchase, it is best to consult a local dealer who is familiar with your lake’s specific characteristics. Reputable dealers also typically receive training from manufacturers such as ShoreStation (the company for which I work).
There are some accessories you should be looking at, including boat hoists (with push-button hydraulic lift) to provide safe, convenient storage for your boat. For fishing, you’ll want some seating options such as a bench or swivel chair and lights. For swimming you’ll need a ladder for getting in and out of the water.  
For safety’s sake, it would be a good idea to plan your layout so the swimming area is well away from the hoist or boat docking area. With only one boat, this could be as simple as just designating one side of the dock for swimming and the other side for boat storage. If you have young children, you might want to consider an L- shaped layout that allows even greater protection for the swimming area. If protection from boat traffic is not a concern, you could consider a swim platform, which is basically a free-standing dock section that can be put out in deeper water, extending your swimming area out into the lake.
– B.W.
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