Inconsistent water levels and the slippery shores of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay made finding a safe spot to launch canoes and kayaks a challenge at Ron Legault’s cottage. “I went to help my wife, Marilyn, launch the kayak one day, and she flipped over and fell in the water trying to get in,” says Ron. It was clear—they needed a better way to get into their canoe and six kayaks. “At that point, Marilyn said, ‘This has to be number one on our to-do list,’ ” says Ron.
Ron is a retired chartered accountant, but has always loved carpentry, so he designed a prototype for a launch pad that would sit on top of the rocks. Using pressure-treated wood, he constructed the outer frame with 2×8 boards and then added 2x8s across it for support. He built two 32″-wide decks on either side of the centre cradle using 2×6 boards so that people could get out on either side, leaving a gap between the boards for handholds. “I wanted to make sure a kayak wouldn’t tip,” he says. “Now, when you step on the deck, it doesn’t move at all.”
The centre cradle has 8″ rubber boat rollers bolted through 2×4 supports with hex bolts and lock nuts to allow the kayaks to roll easily up and down. Finally, he notched 2×10 boards into a V shape and screwed them so they are angled inward at the top of the frame to stabilize the kayak’s bow or stern when it’s docked. The final touches were two 5⁄8″ dock eyes on the front so the launch pad can be tied off and adjusted based on changing water levels and two 12″ plastic wheels bolted on the bottom for easy removal.
Now, paddlers use the handholds on the decking to pull themselves in and out of the water, and slips and falls aren’t a concern. “People say, ‘You’ve gotta let the world know about this,’ ” says Ron. “It’s just made such a difference; I’m so pleased with how it ended up working.”
By using leftover rollers, Ron only spent $500 to build this project.
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