The dock days of summer

The highs and lows of installing a new dock: let the berthing – and the floating parties – begin.

by Colin and Justin | photography by Caitlin Dunlop

We certainly wouldn’t wish to jinx the mercury’s (hopefully) vertiginous ascent by purring too excitedly, but it certainly seems warmer times are upon us. As the prospect of kicking our heels together (bare footed, of course) looms large, we’re hell bent on dusting off our snorkels, rooting out our Speedos (perish the thought) and diving into the beauteous waters of Haliburton’s Drag Lake.

And so, without further ado, we’re thrilled to bring you a peek at just some of the work we’ve undertaken, outside.

Our original dock, a hazardous floating structure, was sagging ominously, and traversing its decaying boards was tricky, to say the very least. As far as we could discern, there was only one option. Burn that bad boy. Aye, being that the perilous pier had never been stained, pressure treated or varnished, it served as perfect firewood to battle the bleak, dark winter endured by so many of us as the COVID crisis engulfed the world.

Focussed on brighter times ahead – and with our lakefront cleared in preparation – we turned our attentions to the next stage of our master plan, that being the selection of a company to help design, and ultimately build, our new jetty. And so it came to pass that, focussed on “keeping it local” (and on the recommendation of a trusted colleague), we engaged The Dock Spot and set to work.

The company’s system, we quickly learned, offers excellent buoyancy and, crucially, superior stability to support the traffic we intend spreading across summer 2021. Cue sunrise breakfasts for overseas guests (when travel restrictions permit), swimming parties during languid afternoons, and safely bubbled sundown soirees as the big yellow yields to atmospheric dusk. Yes indeed, we’re making up for (literally) lost time.

But where to start? Well, there are, of course, myriad dock style options available. Those, for example, that remain in water, even when the ice man cometh (courtesy of mechanical or hand operable lift and drop systems) are perhaps better suited to gradual entry shorelines where waves and wind are lesser issues. However, positioned, as we are, with deep entry (and veritable white horses when winds accelerate) our dock requires removal (a service most suppliers offer) at the end of each season, whence it’ll be stored on dry land, safe from climatic ravage and the brute force of metal crushing ice.

In terms of shape and style, your dock – according to frontage – may need a long slip (the section that bridges shoreline and main platform) for passage across shallow waters, to allow boat berthing safe from obstructions. If you have one boat, a square or an L-shaped dock will probably suffice, though if you have two or more crafts (or indeed regular boating visitors) an E or an F shaped dock could prove the perfect solution.

If you’d like to get your boat out of water between usage (to stop it banging against your dock), some floating platforms contain a winch system to pull your craft free as and when required. Easier (and considerably less expensive) are whips: flexible poles that attach to your dock with tensioned ropes that push your boat a couple of feet beyond the perimeter to negate rubbing.

To answer any concerns about the viability of getting a pre-built dock to your shoreline, we’d counsel that as long as there’s a boat launch nearby, and passable roads to transport the dock in one piece (or in safely managed sections), then it shouldn’t be an issue.

To this end, ours was delivered, on water, from the other side of the lake. Dragged effortlessly by a small motorboat, it arrived without any trouble. Immediately thereafter, the team dived underwater to connect and anchor the whole shebang in place on a system of heavy poured concrete weights. Ingeniously, the mechanics allows the platform to remain stable, thanks to adjustable ropes and chains that rise and fall to cope with changing wave conditions.

We initially planned staining and varnishing our newly arrived “party central,” but the lumber being pressure treated, we opted to leave it to weather naturally and take on the grey patina so beloved in Cottage Country. And besides – with varnish and stain come the issue of ongoing maintenance. Our decision (not that we’re even remotely work shy) was made.

With a large surface area, we have ample room for dining and reclining. To one side, a large, all-weather “wicker” sofa and matching club chairs crowd effortlessly around a low-slung coffee table, and, across from these pieces, a casual dining setup occupies space. The former was a lovely indulgence from Lockside Trading Company, whereas the latter was an inexpensive find from Ikea.

As always, balancing spend between different price points is a mindful way to safeguard overall budgets.

As a finishing detail, we added a huge Ikea umbrella and lined the walkway from the shoreline to the main dock with solar lamps, again from the giant Swedish retailer. By day these look cute but, as night settles, they come into their own, twinkling and dancing against Haliburton’s inky skies.

Arranged – and ready for the heat wave – as our deck now is, it’s perhaps better we dispense with the notion of jumping into the lake sporting the aforementioned Speedos. For reasons of common decency, we’ll probably opt for board shorts. Pulled up Simon Cowell style, you understand, to, ahem, flatter our waistlines. Come on – give us a break: that was a seriously brutal winter. And any self-respecting Scot knows to take in as much fuel as possible (reserves, doncha know?) as the mercury begins its ominous decline. Let’s just say we’re still to discharge that fine layer of COVID winter excess. Diet plans at the ready? Hey, what the hell? Here comes summer on the dock. Now, precisely where did we leave those beers?

Suppliers

Dock: The Dock Spot

Wicker seating: Lockside Trading Company

Dining furniture, rugs and sunbrella: Ikea

Table accessories: HomeSense

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