Pro tips for anchoring your dock

floating-dock-with-swim-ladder Photo by Lester Balajadia/Shutterstock

We’ve all been there—who hasn’t had to board a boat at some point during an otherwise lazy summer afternoon to rescue an errant floating dock?

That’s why when it comes to choosing the perfect dock system for your cottage property, you’ll need to carefully assess what you’ll be using the dock for, the type of waterway and the makeup of your shoreline. These considerations will affect your choice of dock and ramp systems.

And as Rick Hickson, founder of R & J Machine explains, you’ll also want something solid and well designed to keep your investment in place. Here are his pro tips for anchoring your dock.

What anchor types are available for docks?

Floating docks require the most anchoring. Large concrete blocks ranging in weight from 250 pounds to 3,000 pounds are required for these types of docks. Anchor chains are attached to the concrete blocks and brought up to the dock in a crisscross fashion where they go through a chain holder located on the dock. If the water level recedes over the summer, the chains should be adjusted to remove the additional slack. Some people also like to tie guy wires from their shoreline out to the shore side corner of their dock. When these two systems are used together, a foolproof anchoring system is provided.

Pipe docks and lift docks are not normally anchored to the lake bottom. Instead, they sit on strategically placed base pads located on the lake bottom.

Is there a type of anchor that is the most common in Ontario’s cottage county?

Concrete anchors are the most common way to secure a floating dock. Make sure you have lots of weight and use a 3/8 galvanized chain to attach your dock to the anchor. It’s also advisable to mount the chains in a crisscross configuration.

What options are available to cottagers with extremely silty lakebeds?

If the bottom is silty, you can put an18”x18” concrete pier pad under the base pads. If you have a pipe dock or a lift dock with a very large boat tied to it, we recommend putting an additional large concrete block under the dock, which you can cable the dock to for extra stability. This should keep your dock from upsetting in a storm.

What types of shoreline is typically the best fit for a floating dock?

People normally use floating docks on shorelines that are muddy, very deep or have fluctuating water levels of over a foot and a half. Typically, if your feet sink up to your knees when you walk into the lake, you have a prime location for a floating dock. Also if your shoreline is solid or drops away quickly so that the end of your dock is in over 12 feet of water, you should consider a floating dock.

Keep in mind when considering a floating dock that anything less than 6 feet wide may be very unstable.

Is there a type of shoreline that is typically the best fit for a pipe dock and lift dock?

Pipe docks and lift docks are ideally suited to locations where the lake bottom is not too soft and the water is not too deep.

A standard pipe dock can go in water up to about 6 feet deep. The normal way to access it would be via a ramp that either rests on the shoreline or attaches to a plate mounted on your rock shoreline. You can go out as far as you like, so long as the water isn’t too deep.

With a lift dock, you need something you can attach the hinge plate to at the shore. This can be armour stone, base rock, a cement slab, or an onshore crib constructed of 6 x 6 and filled with stone. Normally you need a straight surface the width of the dock by 4 feet back and approximately 24 inches thick. You will also need something to anchor your winch to. This can be a large tree, a large rock, or a cement base panel under the surface of your lawn.