Docks with Launch Rollers

What are your thoughts on docks equipped with roller mechanisms like the one pictured below? I believe this particular product is made by Dock Doctors.

Would you run your fiberglass boat onto the roller and, if so, how far before you got out to prevent the rollers from potentially damaging the keel?

I rented this SOT locally to exercise my shoulder which now has some screws in it. (These stink in wind and waves, BTW!). My town has several beaches and this dock which is adjacent to a nice waterfront walkway, so it was a nice place to paddle to. I haven’t used a roller dock like this and was a bit surprised that it took some effort to get the boat up the rollers; it wasn’t very smooth. It got me wondering if going all the way up the ramp would start to mar the bottom of the boat, particularly if there’s crap embedded in the rollers.

Went to municipal launch in my near 19’ CD Extreme. I was careful sliding down to launch keeping weight off as much as I could on the side railings.
Coming back up I couldn’t do the same process. Hull got to a point where it seesawed. Then I heard some cracking :scream::flushed:. Not happy :sob:. Bottom showed two stress cracks in the gelcoat lengthwise. Nothing showed on the inside. Took seat out and added glass and fixed gelcoat.

All my other hulls when I put wide base seats in I reinforced area below combing and up the sides. When I have to haul them off my floating dock to bullhead they seesaw again at low tide. Not bad but I feel better bottom is reinforced. I’m done with rollers.

Poly boat I guess would be ok.

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Nope, wouldn’t go near it and if that was the only way to get on the water, I’d find a different place to paddle.

If I had a thick RM boat, it wouldn’t be a problem. But I don’t.

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Those are made for plastic rec-kayaks or maybe a plastic canoe even. We have a rec-kayak and one place we go has a slide and she loves it. the one we use has notches along the side and when coming in you put your paddle across and pull up one notch at a time. My canoe is too wide for it so I haven’t used it.

Personally I like a nice ramp where at the base of the ramp the water is about 6” deep. Everyone puts the boats straight in and then try and have someone slide them off. I like to put the boat in at 90 degrees and brace to the ramp with my paddle and get in and out.

I really think if you need the slide thing to get in and out maybe you shouldn’t be paddling.

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Launched a P&H Cetus from one once and swore I would never use one again for fiberglass (or CF).

I will use the under-utilized and extremely wasteful grant money, ADA roller launch systems for plastic/rotomold.

Thanks everyone. My municipality has two versions of kayak launches: the one pictured, and one that’s an entire dock with ramp (no rollers) made of recycled milk cartons. The second version ‘disappeared’ over the winter: they disconnected it from the main dock and pushed into the middle of a creek they use to store docks and moorings. Not sure why they didn’t bring it back in the spring other than it may have taken up space for regular boats.

Luckily I have plenty of beaches to use. Just had to try this today since I’ve been walking and cycling past if for nearly 8 years.

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Many older, smaller, weaker, or disabled people paddle and find it helpful. Otherwise they couldn’t go out at all.

I’m 70 in a few months. I can still press my 19’ CD hulls over my head basically with one hand and spin it over the other boats and fence to launch it. I have to take four steps also to clear light posts. Then I can launch them off the bulkhead bow first. One day I probably won’t be able to if I last long enough. I’ll need rollers somewhere. Floating dock can be 5’ below bulkhead at low tide to hump them up and over with gear on them. Windy day I use my other hand to steady the hulls.


Here around the Chesapeake we call these ramps “roller ramps of death”. One of our members used one with his new fiberglass sea kayak and did $700 worth of damage to his boat. These types of ramps are best used by plastic hulled boats, not fiberglass, Kevlar, or carbon fiber. They were initially installed around here by people that didn’t know any better because they were the first kayak and canoe launch facilities that were ADA approved. Since then many manufacturers have come out with smooth low friction ramp systems with no rollers.


I can testify that some newer versions are more friendly to glass boats. I was visiting a cousin in SW Michigan last week who wanted to try kayaking so we headed to the recently built launch site at Watervliet on the Paw Paw River Water Trail which has a quite new roller ramp.

I launched her down it in an 8’ Sundolphin she had borrowed from a friend but I was skeptical about committing my 16’ composite to that gadget and launched myself from the sandy shore offside of the dock. But when we got back an hour later, having aborted the trip due to the mass of strainers and the unusually high flow rate, I was struggling hard against the downstream current and just aimed my boat at the roller ramp entry, then pulled it up using the side railings until it was half up the ramp. Did not want to pull the hull past where the ramp leveled out at the dock level. Climbed out over the railing while the stern was still in the water and then drew the boat unloaded the rest of the way up and pulled it onto the dock. The ramp had smooth rollers and this worked without any scraping or scary noises.

Don’t know the model of the ramp but here is a link to pics of the dock set up from a distance. My beef with it was that the dock greatly restricts “normal” launching from the sandy shore on either side. Would be nice if they cut down a tree or two and trimmed back the brush to make that easier for those who don’t need or want to use the ramp assist.

10 more rollers per section, and more angle and distance… I’m in

That is kind of my point. I see the point wanting people with aging issues or disabilities to enjoy the water, but it is also a dangerous sport and the least dangerous part is getting in or out of a canoe/kayak in a couple inches of water.

Around here the total experience is not disable safe just the launch. Once in the water and heading out in deep water or down stream the risks are the same as for everyone. A person without the abilities to get into a boat in shallow water may not fare to well when going for a swim out in a lake or deep river and needing to do some type of reentry or a swim to shore empty the boat and now do a reentry without the aid of the slide. It is all great if they stay in the boat paddle around a little and then come out. I just never count on things going perfect.

I have capsized more from the canoe clubs kayak/canoe launch than sea state. Seems a pointy boat can get caught on the end …and pivot on the bow and Stern with little or no affected from beam on stability. Done it both in my sea kayak and solo canoe. I use the bulkhead or the floating dock.

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They float in their pfd or stay in shallow waters. Go with a friend, make a float plan, go in warm water. Can’t be a couch :potato::potato::potato: everything gets worse on you.


The county launch just added a roller dock this year. Fine on plastic hulls. Half the time I forget it is there and use the trailer ramp in about 12 inches of water.