Can an anchored dock be left in the water over the winter or will the ice destroy the chains?
What the pros do is save their backs by not lifting any anchors or hauling any docks onto shore, if they can help it. Unless your shoreline is exposed to heavy weather or more than two kilometres of open water, you can just leave it all in the lake—provided you follow some simple rules.
In the fall, loosen the anchor chain to allow the dock to rise in the spring high water. Then, disconnect the ramp from shore and place it on top of the dock. And that’s it. The dock will freeze in place. As long as your dock is anchored well and not attached to the shore, it will not be affected.
Docks can be left in the lake but deciding where to leave it can be challenging. Assess your conditions over a few seasons. If you’re not sure your dock will be safe, re-anchor it in a more sheltered location.
As for the chains, except for those still anchoring your dock, it’s fine to leave them in the lake over the winter. The easiest way to retrieve them in spring is to tie polypropylene rope to their ends before letting them drop to the bottom. The rope floats, so in spring it will be on the surface, ready to be used to haul up the chains.