Choosing the Right Dock for Your Lake House

By Frank Eaton

Some lakes allow you to have a dock. This extends your property and provides a place for hours of recreation and enjoyment. Here are your options when it comes to docks:

  1. There are stationary and floating docks. Ones with roofs, party decks, swim platforms, and covered docks. Docks made of wood, steel, concrete, and composite deck boards of recycled wood, plastic, and polyethylene.
  2. Stationary docks are the traditional style: they are fixed in one place and not moveable. If the water level drops, the dock could have little to no water under it and your boat could be sitting on the ground.
  3. Floating docks with polyethylene molded float drums mounted under the dock for buoyancy allow the dock to move up and down with the water levels.
  4. A stationary dock extended out into deeper waters can have an attached floating dock platform at the deep end. The floating dock moves up and down with the water levels while the stationary dock closest to the shoreline stays fixed in place. A gangway or walkway is needed to allow passage onto each of the docks. The stationary dock could be higher than the floating dock if the water level drops.
  5. A drive in slip with rubber railings, cleats, and roof for your boat in the water provides cover and a stable tie up. This allows passengers to get on and off the boat from the dock with ease.
  6. A drive-on docking system, a float dock designed to drive your boat or personal watercraft (PWC) like jetskis directly up on, is a floating dock and boat lift system in one. You drive your vessel in the water up on the float dock system to keep it secured and out of the water when not in use. Back the vessel off the docking system into the water to launch it when ready to use.
  7. There are "party decks" for entertaining built on top of the dock roof with stairs, and swim platforms built on the side of the dock with a ladder to allow easy access in and out of the water.
  8. Covered docks with a roof, side walls, and doors protect the boat from all weather conditions. Like a garage for your boat, they also provide better security.
  9. Water and power to your dock provide lighting and allow electronic devices to be used on the dock. You can work out on the dock with your laptop or keep beer and soda in a small fridge - right on the dock. Water can spray off the boat and dock.
  10. Electric boat lifts keep your boat out of the water but still at the dock when not in use.

Dock builders are generally located in lake communities. Most builders provide all you need from design to materials. They also know what's allowed on the lake. Check your local listings for builders in your area.

Some lakes limit the types of docks allowed and require permits. Check with lake management at your local government offices and town hall on this.

Lake houses often have small yards. So a dock can serve as an extension of the property with more room for chairs and picnic tables. Eating on the dock gives you a closer view of the water.

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