So much of boating revolves around hanging out at the dock that it’s no wonder many boat owners are looking for ways to enhance their private moorings. Boating looked into modular floating docks and discovered a variety of drive-on dry docking for all types of boats from PWC to runabouts and fish boats 25 feet or more in length. They are easy to assemble and install — many can be built in a day to secure your boat.
These lightweight, polyethylene docks offer boaters tremendous benefits. In areas of fluctuating water levels, they can be moved to meet changing conditions. Many offer dry-storage solutions in the form of drive-on, slide-off boat or PWC stations. They don’t rot or rust, and they don’t damage easily from impact. In fact, the roto-molded material is forgiving on gelcoat.
While early models were offered only in an industrial look, new models are molded to simulate planks or brick pavers, adding a sense of style. And to make it all the more inviting, in some areas, such as where docks are normally removed for winter and considered temporary, permits are often not required for installation.
More boaters are choosing polyethylene docks partly because the choices are so broad. We asked for input from manufacturers and installers on solutions to the modular dock puzzle.
Big Pieces or Small?
The key to understanding modular docks is knowing how they’re assembled. Most systems are made of individual sections ranging from 20-inch cubes to module dimensions of three to five feet. They butt together at their ends, along their edges or in any combination, creating great flexibility for unusual docking situations.
“It’s like a Lego kit,” says David Rueckert, founder of SportPort. “We can make pier docks, T-docks and drive-on docks in all shapes and sizes.” Larger modules are often favored by installers, while homeowners may choose smaller sections for easy handling.
|SportPort docks use larger modules with keel tracks and piling holes molded in.|
While most modular docks are roto-molded in set sizes, AccuDock cuts sheets of plastic, welds them into a box, fills the box with foam and adds a stiff aluminum frame around the perimeter.
“They’re a little soft under your feet because they’re built of plastic and foam, but you get that same stable feel as with a concrete dock,” says Charlie Everette, who oversees AccuDock installations for Broward Piling in Pompano Beach, Florida. Everette also sells SportPort products, noting that they are lighter and stiffer than most poly docks.
Cube docks take the modular docking concept to the opposite extreme — each section is roughly a 20-inch square. More connections can bring advantages. For starters, if one cube is damaged, it isn’t a big deal for overall dock flotation or replacement cost.
Plus, all those connections give a bit, allowing them to flex with the waves. Flexibility is good but only to a point. Without solid connections, they are difficult to walk on because individual cubes sink underfoot.