If you have a cottage on one of the Great Lakes, installing a dock provides easy access to the water. You can keep a boat right at the dock, and it's readily available anytime you want to use it during the summer. Many boaters who have their own docks miss out on much of the Great Lakes' boating season, however, because they opt for prefabricated docks that must be taken out of the water. If you'd like to take advantage of the entire boating season, consider investing in a permanent dock for your waterfront property.
The Types of Docks Used in the Great Lakes
Docks can be broadly categorized into two types of docks: seasonal and permanent. While there are several different types of seasonal and permanent docks, residents of the Great Lakes tend to favor prefabricated pipe docks, which are seasonal, or metal piling docks, which are permanent. The other types of docks are not suited for residential use in the Great Lakes for various reasons:
- floating docks, which are seasonal float on the surface of the water, will be torn apart by even small waves
- wooden piling docks, which are permanent and use wood pilings, will be damaged by ice during the winter
- crib docks, which are permanent, can withstand the Great Lake's harsh conditions, but, as HomeAdvisor notes, they're the most expensive type of dock
In contrast to these other docks, prefabricated pipe docks that are wheeled in and out of the water each season:
- can withstand moderate waves (although large storms may destroy them)
- are taken out before ice forms
- are inexpensive, costing around $3,000 according to HomeAdvisor
Permanent docks that use metal pipes, instead of wood, will not be damaged by harsh storms or ice. G&H Marine explains that the metal pipes used in these docks are generally 6 to 8 inches in diameter and filled with cement, which makes them strong enough to handle even the worst of the Great Lakes' weather.
The Advantage of Permanent Docks
When compared to seasonal docks, permanent ones have one significant advantage. They are left in the water year-round, and, therefore, extend your boating season.
Prefabricated, seasonal docks must be manually moved into and out of the water each year. The dock must be carried (or rolled if it has wheels) into the water and assembled there, which means you must get into the water. Even with a wetsuit on, this can only be done when the water's warm enough to be in it for several hours. Water temperatures vary from year to year, but anyone with a cottage on one of the Great Lakes knows that you won't be installing a seasonal dock in March or taking it out in November. It's just too cold.
Permanent docks don't need to be taken in and out, so you can use them until there's ice. When the water's too cold to go swimming in, you can still keep your boat tied up at your dock. With a permanent dock installed, you can go boating well before summer officially begins and long after it ends.
The Cost of a Permanent Dock
Permanent docks cost significantly more than prefabricated, seasonal ones. HomeAdvisor says some permanent docks can be as much as $50,000 to $75,000, compared to the average $3,000 price of a seasonal model.
Permanent docks are expensive because of the marine contractor's equipment required to install them. For marine construction, metal pilings must be driven into the lake's bottom, which is solid limestone in some parts of the Great Lakes, and then filled with concrete. Not only does the contractor need to use heavy-duty machinery, but they also need a barge to hold the equipment on.
If you enjoy boating from your cottage on the Great Lakes, however, investing in a permanent dock will greatly extend the season for you. Having a permanent dock installed by a marine construction company is a major decision, but it's one that you'll be glad you did when you're the first and last person on your shore to go boating each year.