Floating docks come in two types. Those that float free and attach only at the shore, and those that “ride” up and down on vertical polls that are anchored in the bottom. Each type has different pros and cons, but with both, the most obvious limitation is solidity. The smaller you are, the less that’s a factor – except on a wavy day – when it’s more of a factor.
Free Floating Piers – Pros
A floating pier of this type is good for very deep water or extremely mucky bottoms. Another “claimed” advantage is that (some of) these piers can be left out all winter, that the ice won’t hurt them. Some manufacturers will offer a warranty that covers just that sort of thing.
Free Floating Piers – Cons
While it’s true that these piers-without-legs can be an advantage in very deep waters or where the bottom is mucky or has large boulders, their length is limited to a very few sections. That’s not a problem where it’s deep because you don’t need a long pier where it’s deep. But if you need a longer pier, it won’t be enough to anchor the pier only at the shore. The first wind would rip that right out.
Whether these piers can really stand up to the spring ice movement is dependent on the size and orientation of the lake. Generally these piers are problematic in larger lakes for this reason. When the ice moves on a larger lake (2-3 miles across) not much will stand in it’s way. Just because the pier will ride on top of the ice as the ice sheet moves beneath it won’t save the pier when mounds and mounds of ice pile up. Manufacturers know the limitations of their piers, but individual dealers may not. A warranty is no guarantee that ice won’t damage your pier. Guarantors simply know that the odds are in their favor and can accept some risk.
Pole-Type Floaters – Pros
These floating piers ride up and down guided by poles that are driven into the ground. They’re good for widely fluctuating water levels like rivers, flowages, and inland tidal waters.
Pole-Type Floaters – Cons
The relative difficulty of installing and removing these piers combined with their inherent non-solidity makes them a niche product – great for fluctuating waters.
Here in d’nort, pole type floaters must be removed over the winter just like any other pier that’s supported by poles. Their driven-in legs are even more vulnerable to ice damage than piers with footpads or wheels, which can at least slip.
The Bottom Line
A Pier of d’Nort dock is not the answer for everyone. Just almost everyone. But if you’re going to need another kind of pier, we understand, and we hope that these pages offer some measure of help.