What docks to buy

We live on a small lake in central Michigan. Our old wooden docks are on their last legs. Launching kayaks from them is problematic and putting the docks in the water in the Spring and taking them out in the fall is getting harder and harder. So we have decided to spring for new docks that are kayak launch friendly and easy to put in and take out. Any recommendations? Good and bad experiences?

More info please
Fixed docks are easy to retrofit with a plank or two underneath the dock just at water level or slightly above.

If your lake fluctuates as ours does, we use floating docks. Thats a little trickier to deal with as the floats get in the way of installing a boarding board(just a couple of boards hung lower than the deck)

I have seen dock surfaces placed exactly at water level. Of course they are made of plastic and the lake level does not vary.

Check this out

– Last Updated: Jan-10-11 6:58 PM EST –



Additional Information
The lake does not fluctuate in the sense of daily changes. It starts in the Spring at pretty much the same level – the maximum it will be for the season. Over the Summer the lake gradually recedes, more in some years than others. The water drops around two feet in dryer years. The nice thing is that once the water recedes sufficiently you can launch from shore.


I liked those till
I saw the price! Guess I will stick with handmade. But thanks for ideas…I particularly like the launch one.

Jet dock

how steep is the slope or bank?
Bear with me here.

Dairy farmer
Find someone in the dairy industry and get a bunch of milk-line-detergent barrels. They make a fine floating dock.

Unless the water is very deep at the shore or there is a cliff at the shore there’s not really any reason to have a dock for a kayak. And in MI most of the lakes are fairly shallow with gradual shores. Not a heck of alot of reason to fight getting in and off a dock unless you have other boats too.

Bill H.

Do you sit out on the dock?
That is, is the dock also used for socializing, sitting in chairs and watching the sunset? I am asking because the movement of the floating docks can be difficult for some people to handle. Larger segments will calm that down, but it’s still a factor.

If the majority of the characteristics you need are those you’d get from a fixed dock, I’d suggest that you solve the kayak entry issue via a ladder and secondary platform to the side of the dock. Perhaps a low level floating surface that you could pretty much just roll from the kayak onto.

The “bank” is a cement sea wall, slanted slightly to deflect ice in the winter. The distance from the top of the wall to the highest water level is about 4 feet.

Don’t sit out on it
So a floating dock might work. I would have to figure out how to get from the top of the sea wall to the dock itself.

A floating dock

– Last Updated: Jan-11-11 9:12 AM EST –

No matter what the water level in the lake, the distance from the dock to your boat will be the same.

You could buy one, or make one yourself, using plastic 55 gallon drums underneath the wood structure. If you're interested, I can find you some designs.

mm. probably wouldn’t work then
I was thinking, a steep bank and some depth might facilitate placing some stratified stone (limestone?) in steps from the top of bank to the lake bottom. Permanent solution and maybe a bit more aesthetically pleasing.

Designs would be great if it is not too much trouble. Thanks.

floating barrels on a dock tends to be grossly unstable and probably too high to allow easy entry to a kayak. The most reasonable floatation for a home built kayak dock uses styrofoam bilets, designed for docks, generally are 12"x 48" x 96". There are poly floats for docks that are very nice, but arn’t cheap, generally a couple hundred $ each. The foam blocks are much cheaper.

Bill H.

Looks like the free plans I downloaded
years ago aren’t free anymore. Here is a plan that is similar to what I made:


It would be hard to replicate
the paddling technique of this guy, but check out that deluxe dock!


Indeed a deluxe dock
They are super expensive and one regular dock section weighs 290 pounds! But I like the knees up technique. :slight_smile: