Docks: The New Entertaining Space on the Lake

Filed in Lakeside Living, On The Lake by on March 1, 2014


If your lake home is your castle then your water front dock can be your recreation room, providing guests the royal treatment.

Docks have become a gathering, entertaining and relaxing space for more and more lake homeowners. A big reason is because docks have transformed from just being a rickety path to the boat to being bigger, stronger, safer and maintenance-free. For some, they have become a part of the property’s landscape.

Docks have become less of a burden and more of a blessing for many lake homeowners. The dock can serve as a place for multi-tasking. Fishing, water sports, sun bathing, book reading, barbequing and feet-dangling in the water all take place on today’s docks. Somethings coffee or cocktails are involved.

The gathering spot is enhanced by accessories, making dock sundecks a fun place to hang out. Furniture, such has swivel chairs and benches that fit at the ends of the structure, allow space for more people to enjoy time closer to the water.

“It is amazing how docks have evolved,” said Don VanderMay, President of FLOE International. “Docks were only used to access the boat, but now are used for entertainment, adding significantly to the quality of life on the dock. We live on our dock.”

Photo Courtesy of V-Dock

Photo Courtesy of V-Dock

Extension of the home

The dock can become an extension of the lake home, utilizing multi-purpose deck surfaces as a low cost alternative to building a patio deck at the cabin or on shore.

Similar in many ways to a patio near the house, docks can also be outfitted with lighting, floral decoration, chairs, tables, umbrella, flag pole and even hammocks. You just have to add water.

“When you get to the cabin you don’t want to work on the dock all day, you want to enjoy the lake,” said Kevin VanOrsdel, sales manager at Voyager Industries, maker of Titan decks and Voyager docks. “Now when you drive your boat around the lake you will see a lot of people sitting at the end of the docks at all time of the day.”

The Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota limits sundeck size to less than 170 square feet. That still allows for a 12×14 sundeck at the end of a dock.

“Our customers definitely think of the sundeck as a place for gathering with friends and family when they are considering what size to purchase,” said Lisa Schwartz from V-Dock of Forest Lake. “We always say that no one ever complains that their sundeck is too big.”

A thing of beauty

You can have the best of both worlds when combining the benefits of a maintenance-free surface with the traditional rustic look of a wood grain finish.

“My dad used to put in about 20 hours to re-finish his cedar dock,” said VanderMay about the chore of scraping, sanding, and sealing, plus replacing boards. “People of my generation don’t have to deal with it beacuase of a special paint finish.”

A beautification product becoming popular is the Dori Pole pennant display system made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Dori Pole consists of a telescoping fiberglass pole and either a 15- or 8-foot long colored nylon pennant. The non-tangling swiveling yoke bracket allows eye catching pennants to gracefully dance in the wind. It also acts like a scarecrow, keeping wildlife away.

Safety conscious

Because of the move toward people wanting to entertain on their dock, manufactures are concerned about safety.

“Our company has dramatically changed the way we put our docks together in order to be sturdier and provide stability like that of a permanent pier,” says VanderMay.

Dock ladders are still sold, but steps are easier to manage and becoming popular because they are safer for all ages. The step options are especially appreciated by dogs.

Lighting can provide better visibility for safety at night and can get decorative and festive. Lights can extend the use of the dock after the sun has set, including fishing and swimming under the stars.

Also enhancing safety are hand rails to help contain small children and rolling wheelchairs. Boats can be tied to a side dock cleat or mooring ring so there is no tripping hazard.

Photo Courtesy of FLOE International

Photo Courtesy of FLOE International

Topping it off

“Furniture on docks has changed the whole game as far as sitting and relaxing compared to the hard bench, which we had forever, but is now obsolete,” adds VanderMay. “It doesn’t get any better than sitting in a soft swivel rocking chair at the end of you dock.”

Voyager added new accessory product lines this year such as a fishing rod holder and rod storage rack that clamps on to the side of the dock. Voyager sells a special line of furniture for docks. A swivel chair comes with a foot rest where you can sit our over the water and not take up valuable deck space.

Most dock companies offer a caddy, a multi-functional storage tool to help as a clutter catcher for all those items that end up underfoot of in the drink.

Docks look better when items such as life jackets, float toys and fishing gear are out of slight and put in a dock box. At-the-dock storage also beats lugging stuff from the lake.

Sturdier docks allow for the use of a shaded roof structure such as a gazebo, canopy or shade sail. This keeps dock lovers out of the sun and bale to enjoy the dock for longer periods of time.

Permanent bumpers prevent damage to your boat. A canoe and kayak rack can tie to the dock along with plant holders for hanging baskets.

Enhanced design

New technology and design has enhanced the frame strength and surface comfort of today’s docks. Maintenance-free solutions are lightweight so you can easily move them, yet durable so Mother Nature can’t.

Versatility in layout design is provided by modular dock pieces with quick connect ability and top side leveling. you may not have to patch your waders after all.

A key factor offered by Voyager and FLOE involves the underside of the dock where channels and grooves allow for air and water flow to cool the upper surface. The non-skid texture is like a welcome pat for bare feet.

“We are doing well because people want nice quality, no maintenance and stable products to enhance the enjoyment of their place at the lake,” adds VanderMay. “They want to enhance functionality and visual appeal, plus make a statement on the water about what their lake place is all about.”

by David Pedersen, a freelance writer from Brownton, Minnesota.


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