Storing Floating Wharves For Winter

Hey Cottagers! Welcome to The Cottage Chronicles. I had a comment from GREGM, who wondered if I could offer any hints for storing a floating wharf that is too big to pull up for winter. Well Greg…..

Like you, I have a floating wharf, something that I love in the summer and dispise in the fall when I have to deal with it. While I am by no means a wharf expert, I am somewhat of a wharf afficiando, and I admire well built and designed wharves. Especially if they have character. You will see from the picture below, that mind has a certain amount of character….

Greg, you didn’t say what kind of floating wharf you have, but mine floated on blocks of styrofoam and connected by walkways.
That stuff gets really…really….I mean really heavy when it gets wet. The first couple of years, I coaxed a couple of neighbors to give me a hand pulling it up on the shoreline. We used logs for rollers underneath it, and then pried it from behind with poles, and managed to actually store one 10X12 float on top of the other one.

Hard work…I seem to recall using my Chev Tracker 4X4 to pull assist in pulling it up. But….that is just too much work and there was no guarantee of the thing making it through the winter without getting busted up by the ice. It didn’t, but one year it broke free of the ropes (or someone untied it) and the wind carried it across the lake where I found it in the spring.

So the past few years I made some changes. First of all, I did away with one of the floating parts. Then I decided that pulling it up was just not worth the effort. I am lucky in that our cottage is located on a bit of a point, with a small cove to one side. I have started pulling my wharf into the cove and tying it firmly to the shoreline with several ropes and a chain that I lock. I have a place that is sheltered behind a big rock. I pull the wharf in there, tie the ramps to the top of it, and let it freeze in. It’s sheltered from the wind, and out of sight, and chained to discourage pranksters or kids from undoing it. Of course I remove the walkways first and bring them ashore, storing them up off the ground on blocks to keep them from rotting too quickly. I thought I had a picture of it, but alas, I cannot find it, perhaps I will get one the next time I go to the camp.

This has worked very well for me and it is a heck of a lot easier than pulling it up. Remember pulling it up is difficult, so is shoving it back into the water in the spring.

Another option, more work than mine, is to remove the styrofoam blocks, then carry it ashore. I don’t have anything under my wharf to hold the blocks. The wharf is framed around them, and the water pressure pushes them up against the underneath of the deck, holding them firmly in place. All you do is lift the wharf up, and pull the styrofoam down, carrying them away separately. It’s work, but not quite as bad because individually, the float and styrofoam are not as heavy.

Alternatively, if you have help, and room to do it, you can pull the float up on shore, and turn it upside down. Then put some rollers underneath of it, and pull it up on the lawn.

Finally, the final solution….on a nice clear, crisp fall night, remove the styrofoam, buy some marshmallows, invite some friends, and set fire to it. The make a lovely bonfire….You can build a new one next year. But when you do, build one of the new docks with metal poles and leg holders
they are lighter and easier to deal with, half the work of the floating versions.

I also have written about building floating wharves, here!

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5 thoughts on “Storing Floating Wharves For Winter”

  1. Hello, I am really enjoying reading your blog. Tonight, after work, I’m going to spend some time here looking around. I enjoyed the cabin ghosts. Have you sent those photos to any paranormal folks? I’m sure they would be interested… anyway, our lake association has 2 floating docks. One is on pontoons, the other is on 55 gallon drums and is really unstable.

  2. Thanks for that! I hadn't checked back in a few days since my comment. The advice is really appreciated!! Taking our floating dock out isn't an option as we don't have a smooth slope.

    It has styrofoam underneath and I think we're destined to have it in the ice. It's a small lake so it shouldn't move around too much.

    Our dock system includes one crib dock that goes out about 20 feet with the floating part extending the dock out another 16 (or so). I've connected the two with a vertical pole system that allows the floater to rise and fall with the water level.

    I think my plan will be to tie dock to several cinder blocks (I have solid rings on all four corners) and then chain it to a tree that juts out vertically from the shore. It will be kind of sheltered by the crib, so fingers crossed it works out.

    I echo Denise's comment that your site is really enjoyable.

    By the way, thanks for your post urging people to take the water out now. We were at our place on the weekend (near Lake of Bays) and come Sunday afternoon, I was playing with the idea of waiting two more weekends because it's been so nice the past few weeks.

    Yesterday in T.O. flurries drifted past my window during the day, and all I could think of was, 'thank God we took it out when I was on the fence so I didn't have to tear up the 400 mid-week with visions of bursting pipes in my head.'

    Thanks for that!

    Here is a pic of my floating dock (in warmer days…);=758280290

  3. I have to add yet another comment. I will eventually read your ENTIRE blog, cover to cover, per se. I cannot get enough! My husband is going to enjoy your helpful tips, also. And yes, we are more of those ‘Michigan Folks’ that you spoke of. Thank you for adding my blog as a link, you are in my blog list, too! :)

  4. Laker, I checked out the pontoon link you mentioned, they do look useful.
    Denise, I appreciate the comments, more than you realize, and am impressed that you are going to read all of this…oh my….
    Gregm I also appreciate your comments and the point about getting the water off early. You are so right, it isn’t worth the desperate rush to the cottage to do it at the last minute.
    Your wharf sounds a good deal like mine. It should be ok to freeze into the ice as long as the ice doesn’t slam up against it in the spring. Mine is in a fairly sheltered shallow cove which helps to keep it safe. Beats dragging it out of the water though, which does damage too.
    Thanks everyone for your comments, they are much appreciated, and makes writing this worthwhile.

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