Annual Dock Build

Docks in Minnesota are a bit different than those in Alabama. Thanks to our lakes and rivers freezing and all of that ice moving about we have to remove our docks every fall and put them back in the spring. Thanks to a later than normal spring this year we have only recently finished getting our dock in.

This is a natural lake and so we get about 4-5’ of fluctuation in water level season to season. This means that how far out our dock goes changes each year. We need about 5’ of depth for our lift and boat. Several years ago we had to use almost all of our dock sections to reach water deep enough so we had a 210’ long dock and a very small platform on the end. This year, with record high water levels, we’ve got the shortest dock we’ve ever had of 110’. We use extra dock sections (4’ x 10’) to make a larger platform on the end.

Here’s what our lake looked like on 26 April 2018.

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Our neighbors docks all piled on the shoreline.

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And our rather messy pile. In the fall we pile concrete blocks under the steps that go down from the landing to the dock. Usually this works well and often the ice will just push the blocks out from under the steps and the steps will then rest on top of the ice which slides back and forth underneath. This year with a bit of thaw and then refreezing they got crunched a bit but fortunately not too bad.

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Getting docks and lifts out of the water and safely away from the ice can be a pain. Our neighbors (below) have a quite steep slope and actually have posts mounted near the top so that they can use chain motors to pull their lifts up. Our slope (above) is not nearly so steep so come-a-longs and a bit of muscle power can do the job.

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We hire a crew to put the dock, lifts and swim platform in and take it out each year. It takes 7 of them about 5 hrs. Since the water is still quite cold they wear wetsuits for the task. The dock is made of aluminum frames (from the very cool folks at DH Docks) with a vinyl Brock deck panels. Each frame weighs about 120 lbs and each panel (2 per frame) about 110 lbs. It’s a workout. I can do the straight portion by myself but the platform frames require 3 people and the lift requires 5 or more. The lift has wheels on the bottom that are removed after it’s in place for the summer.

This year our dock was done in a couple of bits. Most of the dock and the lift was put in on 17 May so that we could get to our boat and then the platform and other bits finished in late June.

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Here you can see the shallower portion that extends about 160’ from the shore before getting steeper. When the water level is lower we have to put the dock out past the shallow bit. A few years ago it was low enough that we had about 80’ of beach going out from the shore.

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Many of the dock crews use a barge like this that significantly reduces the labor involved and helps with getting stuff up on steeper slopes.

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