Access from dock 4' above water

Our dock can be anywhere from 3 to 5’ above the water line depending on the tide. We have a ladder to step down into the kayak - but are having trouble putting the kayak in and taking it out of the water from such a height.

Is there a pulley system or some other mechanism that we can use to hoist the kayak onto the dock after use? We tried attaching ropes and caribiners to the front and back of the kayak - but couldn’t reach them from the cockpit to attach to anything! It worked for lowering the yak into the water, but not so much for getting it out

Any suggestions?

How long and what material?
It might help to know what the kayak us - how long and whether it is plastic or composite. Or is it a tandem (hope not - heeaavvy…)

To take it out
A wooden closet rod with a rope tied to the center hanging next to the ladder. As you get out place the pole into the cockpit. Picture a plug for a squirt gun hanging out of the fill hole. When you get on the dock raise the rope. A davit and pulley would be nice but not necessary. You could possibly add crosspieces to the ends if you want to over engineer it. I think that would be no problem for a poly boat. With a fiberglass though you would have to be concerned with the weight concentrated at two points on the rim of the cockpit.

I use a bowline to launch and retrieve mine, more than long enough to reach to the cockpit. Take the bowline up the ladder with you and the lift the bow and pull the boat up on the dock. I have a piece of carpet nailed to the edge of the dock to protect the boat.

Next to dock?
Can you launch, land & drag kayak up on land next to the dock? 3’-5’ is a very kayak unfriendly height difference.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

kayak weight
The kayaks are 14’ neckys with a rudder. I’m guessing they weight 40ish pounds

I know what a bowline knot is…but, sorry for my ignorance, what is a bowline and how do you attach it to a kayak? I googled it but only saw pictures of ropes and knots

type of material
The kayaks are plastic - butI worry about how heavy it will be to hoist 40 pounds of kayak without hurting our backs (we are in our 50’s and 60;s)

That’s why I was thinking that some sort of pulley system might work. I’m just not sure what would be needed and how the kayak would attach to it

Bow line. Also called a painter
A piece of rope tied to the front of the boat, long enough to be able to hold onto while clumping out of the boat and onto the dock then drag it up onto the dock. Tie it to the carry handle on the front. But that means you would have to muscle it up onto the dock from one end.

If you want to lift it onto the dock
Using pulleys you need to make a davit. Google for pictures. It could look like an upside down capital L standing on the dock with the horizontal piece hanging over the water with a pulley set up at the tip of the davit. It could also be as simple as a 2x4 attached to the dock and angled out over the railing.

If you have the funds, there is also an advertiser here for EZ dock, a small floating dock you paddle up onto using a set of rollers. Attach it to the pilings of your regular dock.

But with a little bit of practice and using leverage you should be able to drag a poly boat up using a bow line and some carpet on the edge of the dock.

Do you own the dock?

– Last Updated: Mar-10-14 8:03 PM EST –

If you do, and if there are not other space restrictions, how about providing a "dock addition" that's just a small platform supported by floats at a more convenient height above the water (like one foot or less)? Fasten this platform to the main dock in such a way that it is free to float up and down. The easiest way to attach it would be with a pair of boards, hinged at each end, with one end hinged to the main dock and the other hinged to the floater. You could make the boards short and steep, or long with a more gradual slope, depending on available space. You could cover both boards with a sheet of plywood, and if the slope is steep, provide 2x4 steps, and if not steep, just some anti-slip coating for traction.

This would be easy to make from improvised parts, but floating docks, and special floats for the ones people make themselves, can be bought. A professional dock installer would be able to provide one as well.

Weight etc
First, if the boats are 14’ long, that means once you get the first third to half of them out of the water and leaning against the edge of the dock the dock edge is carrying some of the weight of the boat. The stern will still be in the water, some weight will be carried there as well.

At 3 ft of dock height you would be pulling a fairly minor portion of the weight of the boat - by far the majority of the boat’s weight will be on the water or on the dock edge. I am Social Security age and regularly carry a heavier bag than that of kitty litter.

At 5 ft dock height you will be carrying a bit more of the boat’s weight, but again a significant portion of the weight will still be being carried by the dock’s edge and the water.

If the boat is plastic, you don’t have to worry about sliding it as long as you have a towel protecting it from being scraped. Plastic boats are pretty abusable.

Honestly, your idea of trying to lift the boat fully out of the water at both ends is a lot harder on your backs than if you just slid it by pulling it up on one end. As others have said, just run a line thru the carry handle at the bow and pull it up.

dock issues
I have weak knees, making it really hard to enter and exit a boat from a dock - there is one dock where the problem is not so hard because there is a smaller dock base between the water and the dock, splitting the difference. Using this to enter and exit a boat is much easier for me and I have not had a dunking yet.

and some require permits

What Grayhawk says works
We just completed a five day camping trip with some of it on chickees.

My yak is 17 feet, hers is 15

After we were on the dock/chickee, I grabbed the stern toggle and then pulled it up at an angle letting the yak rest on the edge of the chickee. Once it was at it’s balance point, (fulcrum) I just pushed the yak down flush with the chickee deck and slid it the rest of the way.

My boat weighs 44 pounds empty, but it came up with four gallons of water,tent, sleeping bags,camping clothes, and a lot of other stuff.

Put it back in the same way, but after it was at an angle half in the water, just leaned out a tad and

let it drop.

naturally have a rope tied to it

Jack L