Will EZ Docks Overstress Carbon Fiber Hulls?

A few of the local put-ins have added EZ Docks (or similar). These are really great, especially for giving access to those who have physical limitations.

When I have used this dock/roller system in the past with my poly boat, I have definitely felt flex but it didn’t worry me because it was poly that flexes without damage. What do you think about using these long-term with carbon fiber sea kayaks? There are two single center rollers, one just below the water line and another right above the water line (see pictures). I have used this dock once with my Necky Looksha IV carbon fiber and felt a little bit of flex under the seat as it rolled over the center rollers. There is a point during pull out, similar to the picture below, where all the out-of-water stress is being placed on the two roller locations.

Since I did feel some flexing, I am just wondering if there is going to be long-term damage to the hull if I continue to use this dock system (FWIW, I am 180-ish lbs but might loan my kayak to others over 200 lbs).

Thanks for any advice and insights.

Personally, no way in hell I would roll a carbon boat over any type of roller.

The actual contact area in sq-in between the boat and roller is very very small. I can easily see a carbon boat getting damaged.

Carbon should not flex much at all. its elongation-before-breaking % is very, very small, thus what makes it so stiff and strong. But once you’re .00001% past its limit, catastrophic failure occurs quickly. The fact that you felt flex means you were very close to the weave’s yield point (almost breaking)

If you’re physically limited the risk may be worth it, but if you do not 100% need to use it with your carbon boat, I definitely would not, IMO.

That’s kick ass that your local launches offer this though. What state are you in?


NEVER use one of these roller ramps with a fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber, or other hard shelled composite boat. These are the result of when various entities that know nothing about canoes or kayaks fall for the advertising about these ramps. Several people in our Club have boats that have sustained severe damage from using then. One friend had a nearly new Kevlar boat that sustained $700 in damage due to multiple cracks in the gel coat.

Several years ago I talked to the manufacturer of a similar ramp about this design and the damage that they were causing. I don’'t recall if it was the same company. After this discussion they came out with a new design that used a smooth ramp with a Teflon surface and no rollers.

With this ramp the rollers are much too far apart to safely support a composite boat with the weight of someone in it. The effect is even worse in colder weather when the gel coat and epoxy are more brittle.

The state of Maryland and various counties started installing this type of ramp due to the fact that they were ADA compliant and the only choice there was at the time. .They meant well and were trying to increase water access after many years of ignoring it. Our Club has since been advising the state and counties on water access and they are now developing beach launches wherever possible.

If you have to use one of these ramps and dock systems with a composite boat, launch over the side like you would off of a low dock, although this is often difficult as most of then have no hand holds on the dock area. Contact whoever is responsible for installing these and notify them of the problem before they waste any more of your tax money.

These ramps are fine for plastic hulled boats as far as I know.


Ok, thanks for confirming my fears. Hopefully I didn’t do any damage. I didn’t see anything when I had it flipped over and was washing down the underside after the paddle but I wasn’t looking super close for damage.

MCImes, there is one at the Morgan Falls put-in on the Chattahoochee in Sandy Springs, GA, and another at Rope Mill put-in above Woodstock, GA, where you are putting in on what I believe is named “Little River” that quickly flows into Lake Altoona. It is great these are available to make it possible for veterans and those with major injuries to be able to enjoy kayaking. That very innovative sliding bench system which puts them right over the cockpit works well.

Concur with other posters. My CF kayak will never see one of the overpriced ADA launches. I only launch a “plastic” kayak from them. I launched a fibreglass once and decided never to do it again.

What a horrible waste of tax dollars at unattended remote locations! Of the 8 similar launches in my two county area, all but one have several switchback turns on the ramp which means no one uses them (except for me showing others “why” these systems are such a waste of money to install). City and county officials are so eager to waste tax dollars that they enjoy building these monstrosities. And the kicker is, they are not maintained so locals show up during the day and steal or throw the removable stainless steel parts into the local waterway so the rollers no longer function.

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can’t imagine roller docks being good for composite boats. We have been using Yak Port for two years as getting on to our floating dock designed for motorboats is challenging at our age… We use carbon fiber boats and so far no issues as long as we do not fall on the boat. the dock is a solid bottom we slide onto.

Those at least have long or rather wide rollers. The trend in FLA is to have 6" - 12" rollers spaced for “barges” . My Sea kayaks didn’t fit real good on the roller one we tried…but there was a familiar smell of BBQ in the air. It wasn’t total waste. My wood composite doesn’t go there either.

I’ve never seen anything like that. On the Huron River in Ann Arbor there’s one launch with a u-shaped dock with a slot maybe 4 feet wide for a canoe or kayak…so you could steady yourself on both sides if you like and no matter what your boat can’t get away from you. Maybe a couple sections of hand railing would have made it even better for handicapped folks.

Agreed with the others on a Cf and/or other light weight hull. Heavier might not be so bad. I have launched my Pygmy Arctic Tern (Fiberglass/epoxy/wood core) from one with no problems & my wife has used one with the Independence (canoe). I was a bit nervous with that one but it is fine. Of course, we have strengthened the chine on the Indy as the fiberglass ones seem to need some help with shallow logs, etc.

That style launch is easy to use.

to be clear, this type of dock is great if it helps those with disabilities access the water. Its just not compatible with carbon boats because of their lightweight and brittle nature.

Plastic boats or beefy composite kayaks are fine on this type of ramp. just use it with your poly boat and enjoy!

Edit - the one that are U shaped solid plastic would probably be somewhat better with a carbon boat because the force is likely spread out over a much larger contact area and the risk of pressure-point fracture is much lower. That said, I would never drag a carbon boat over anything because they’re typically fragile and expensive (and freaking awesome). Carbon = wet foot to me.


I have a carbon-kevlar Impex boat from 2003 - just got it last year. One put-in we sometimes go to has the dock set-up described above with a U-shaped dock and then a lower, solid wooden dock you’re supposed to paddle up onto. I’ve used it with my plastic kayak and it seems pretty gentle on the boat (I’m pretty light as well), but I guess from this discussion maybe I should not use it with the Impex?

The dock I was describing is U-shaped and wooden so the slot is just water and overall it couldn’t be gentler on a boat.

With canoes I was taught to never sit in a composite canoe on dry land since it could potentially damage the boat. So I was surprised last year when I test paddled a lightweight Kevlar canoe and my favorite dealer had me sit in it (on grass) to adjust the foot grace.

I think it’s generally good practice to avoid putting high stresses into a composite boat since they weren’t designed for it. But I think it also depends on the boat. I have a couple of carbon/Kevlar canoes that have exceptionally strong lay-ups and a thick gelcoat and it’s no problem to launch without getting wet feet even if the boat is only partially supported by water and one of my put-ins has a grassy hill and I’ll sometimes drag the lightly loaded boat back up to the vehicle. I’ll also drag them over partially submerged trees or logjams any time. In my experience carbon does not mean delicate…I have a number of carbon fiber paddles (from 6 to 10 ounces) that have taken many hard hits on rocks (and so have my canoes). They are tough and I don’t baby them. But I still wouldn’t launch my strongest canoes on rollers with my weight in them…the line contact of a roller implies infinite stress.

For your Impex you might call the manufacturer and see what they have to say about landing it on a wooden platform.

Been using it two years as I had four joints replaced. WIth a 23 lb carbon fiber boat. There is no stress on the hull for one reason… The seat is on the floor. It is not hung from the gunwales. I never push or pull on any part of the boat like a thwart when getting in our out. And the whole dock is sunk about two inches into the water when I am on it.

Not all carbon fiber boats are the same. CF is brittle but in my boat is not used alone. It has several Kevlar partials too and at least one Kevlar full blanket.

I do NOT want to fall on my boat. That is the one time I have damaged it on dry land… Getting in sitting and falling on it are two different things. I hit the thwart which is foam covered with a kevlar/carbon tweed… Fixed pretty easy with a double wrap of that same fabric

OK, thanks!

That’s Accu-dock . Some will have a grab rail next to or across the slot. For true handicap they have a slopping platform in the water that supports the boat on a slope under water. Get the edge bumpers. The aluminum sq tube has corners to scratch boats.

I launch the boat off the side. Regular floating dock like.

Oh. This is what I thought you were talking about.

This one has no rails since we aren’t handicapped and many kinds are launched from there. Green ramp is for the dogs.

After planning on installing one of those Roller Ramps of Doom, our Club convinced the county that these were not what kayakers really wanted. It helped that the county executive at the time was a kayaker himself and the head of the Parks Department was very supportive. Although cheaper and basically maintenance fee compared to the ramp system, they still spent close to $1M to improve the entrance road, pave the path to the water, install a pervious base and truck in sand for the formerly narrow and muddy launch, install port-a johns, and install a pervious parking area among other things. After a couple of years this launch is still very well maintained.

They are taking this approach at all of the new and existing water access points in the county. Just about perfect in our opinion.

Homeport Farm Park

My experience with installed roller ramps in other areas is that without constant maintenance they soon start to fall apart. I don’t know if this is due to normal wear and tear,or vandalism. On rivers subject to occasional flooding, some have been carried away and wrecked.


You are fortunate to have county officials who are open to listening to paddlers and not just the bean counters who are trying to waste (spend) money.

When my wife and I started kayaking we had thermoformed boats that developed splits at their chines and separation at the deck and hull joints. Looking back on it I highly suspect that even the occasional use of an EZ Dock system exacerbated, if not actually caused, this. Since we replaced those kayaks with fiberglass/Kevlar models and have avoided those docking systems.

I do think it’s great that these systems also allow disabled people to enjoy kayaking and I’m sure they’d be just fine with poly boats.

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