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How-To Guide

How to Choose a Dock for Your Boat or Personal Watercraft

 Posted on: May 13th, 2022

How to Choose a Dock for Your Boat or Personal Watercraft
Jet Ski resting on a Floating Dock

The day when you can finally buy a boat is truly a memorable one. It’s taken a lot of hard work and research to get to that point, and you deserve to enjoy it. Of course, it’s also important that you make sure you have all of the accessories you need to enjoy your boat ownership, including a dock.

If you’re handy and have some basic tools around the house, it’s actually quite simple (and very rewarding) to build your own boat motor stand to have on hand.

Many boat owners quickly learn that storing a boat out of water can be quite inconvenient. Finding a place to park it on your property (or elsewhere), hitching it to a car or truck, driving it to and from the water and then the sheer difficulty of loading and unloading it into the water can be a lot of work.

Dock ownership helps you store your boat in water so you can avoid having to launch every time you want to use your boat. As you conduct your search, it’s important to know what to look for in your chosen dock.

Each dock style has its benefits and drawbacks depending on the body of water in which you wish to dock.

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Example of Roll-in Dock. Our Roll-n-Go Personal Watercraft Dock

Roll-in Docks

These docks are used mostly in northern climates and on bodies of water that are prone to freezing. They’re quite easy to take in and out of the water, so they can easily avoid the ice that can damage docking materials.

Jet Ski on Post Dock
Post Dock. Image belongs to

Post Docks

These docks are an appealing option because they can actually either be permanent or temporary, so they can fit the needs of many different types of boat owners.

Jet Ski on Floating dock
Floating dock. Image belongs to

Floating Docks

These docks are best suited to bodies of water that are subject to significant drops and rises, oftentimes as the result of drought, spring thaws, etc. They’re versatile in this regard, and they’re quite durable; commercial steel tube floats or foam-filled plastic billets are typically the materials of choice.

Piling Dock
Piling dock. Image belongs to

Piling Docks

These are typically the docks people picture when they think about getting a boat dock. They’re usually permanent and will typically rest on concrete pilings at the bottom of the water. They’re constructed using metal or specially treated wood, but they can still be damaged in adverse weather and colder climates.

Consider How You’ll Use Your Dock

Before deciding on a dock it’s important to consider how you’re going to put it into action. For starters, make sure that the dock or slip is long enough for your craft—you’d be surprised at how many people fail to consider this.

Consider also the functions you need the dock to play beyond just boat storage. If you’re envisioning it hosting small dinners or cocktail parties, then you probably want one with a bigger footprint than some of the options on the market. A custom build might even be your best bet in this scenario. In addition, you’ll want something more at the permanent end of the spectrum; a floating dock is great for just accessing a boat, but it’s difficult to picture someone enjoying a cocktail as they sway from side to side and struggle to keep their footing if the water gets choppy!

Identify and Understand the Type of Water and Elevation

Consider the body of water you’re going to be docking on. The amount of surf that you can expect, for starters, is something that can affect your decision. Calm waters allow for a broader selection of potential docks, but if you’re going to be on relatively open saltwater then a floating dock might not be the best choice.

It’s important to remember that the weather and the conditions won’t always be perfect when you’re accessing your boat, so try and think of all scenarios before making your decision.

Calculate Your Budget

How much are you able and willing to spend? There are prefab docks out there that you can pick up for relatively cheap (around $2,000 or so), but then at the other end of the scale there are beautiful custom jobs that can run you well into the five figures. There’s a dock for every budget, so know what yours is and what your “non-negotiables” are.

Acquiring a boat or personal watercraft is an incredibly exciting time, and it can feel at times like your head is spinning. It’s your responsibility to care for and maintain this wonderful machine and finding a safe and consistent dock is a critical piece of this. However, it’s important to plan properly and do your research so that you can feel confident you’re making the right investment in your choice of dock.