Docking assistant

By Ray Ford

Help for solo boaters


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As a frequent solo boater, Stony Lake cottager Doug Maclaren doesn’t usually have someone on hand to help him dock his pontoon boat. Instead, the 81-year-old maintained his independence by designing his own docking assistant.

An angled arm, made from aluminum channel by Maclaren’s neighbour, Bill Doef, catches the boat’s starboard pontoon as it edges into port, while a rubber bumper cushions the impact. With the pontoon held steady, Maclaren uses the outboard engine to push his craft against the dock, and secures the boat by tossing a line over another of his inventions, a 60-cm-high steel rod “cleat” on the dock.

“The cleat is right next to where I’m sitting, so I can just reach out and tie up,” he says. After that, it’s a simple matter of tethering the vessel, fore and aft, to two more high-rise cleats. Maclaren’s inventive solution ensures that after more than five decades on Stony Lake, he can keep on docking.

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Ray Ford