Cottage Guide

Ask A Cottage Expert: The Dock Guy

In this series, we ask professionals our cottage-related questions. See more Ask A Cottage Expert in our Cottage Guide (on newsstands now or order it here)!

Greg Westwell, Fendock. Photo by Dwayne Brown.
Greg Westwell, Owner of Fendock. Photo by Dwayne Brown.

What’s the single biggest mistake people make when choosing a dock?
People don’t realize how deep their water is. They buy a dock, then discover they can’t use it because the legs are too short. Make sure you measure how deep your water is.

How do people choose what dock system is right for them?
It depends on what you want your dock for. If it’s just to get in and out of a boat, it doesn’t need to be wide. But if you don’t have much room on shore, you’ll probably want to have seating and will need a larger surface area like you can get with a floating dock. We build them up to 20 by 20 feet. Wider is more stable — like the difference between a kayak and a deck boat — but wider docks are also heavier, which makes them harder to get out for winter.

Do all dock systems need to come out for winter?
It depends on the size of the lake and whether your waterfront is sheltered or open to the elements. If it’s sheltered, you might be able to leave [a floating dock] in for the winter. If it’s not, the ice usually destroys everything in its way, and you’ll need to be able to take it in and out.

What questions should cottagers ask themselves when choosing between a floating dock and truss- or frame-dock systems?
Depth is very important. If the water’s very deep, you’ll want a floating dock. If it’s shallow for a long way from shore, you’ll want a truss dock with long sections. Then there’s the bottom of the lake to consider. There are people out there who buy floating dock systems just to avoid having to take it in and out on the soft, weedy bottoms!

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