Taking The Wharf In For Winter


It’s the middle of October, and although most of the time the weather is very pleasant, it is unfortunately that time of year when the wharf has to come out of the lake. Yup, you can drag your feet as long as you like, but rest assured, it’s gonna have to come in eventually, so we decided this was the weekend.

Our friends Dave and Jancy were here for the weekend, so as usual, I put David to work, this time helping me to get the bloody heavy floating wharf up on shore so it doesn’t get jammed up in the ice over the winter.

Our wharf, as frequent readers know, is a floating wharf. Essentially it consists of a couple walkways between floats, that is anchored to the shoreline and held in place by two ten foot long metal pipes that are driven into the bottom of the lake at the end of the last float. It floats up and down on the waves and a normal rise in water or a drop in water levels doesn’t move it or cause any issues.

I drive the pipes down into the muddy lake bottom each Spring. I like to get about two to three feet of pipe driven into the mud for a good solid hold. It works, the wharf has withstood all kinds of wind and waves again this year without moving out of place. Here is a picture of our wharf.

Of course the tricky part of driving metal pipe into the mud….is pulling them back out of the mud in the Fall. The lake really takes a good hold on the pipe. They don’t pull out easily, in fact, they almost don’t pull out.

Usually I take a pipe wrench, clamp it on to the pipe and turn and pull up at the same time, gradually “unscrewing” the pipe from the sandy, mucky lake bottom and the amazing amount of suction that that muck has on the pipe. Of course, that only works until you drop the pipe wrench and it sinks to the bottom, about 7 feet and buries itself in the mud. Gone until at least next summer.

Using a lever and fulcrum to pull the pipe up

But the pipe wrench might have been lost, but all was not lost. David, always the enterprising guy, decided what we needed to get the decidedly stubborn pipe out of the muck, was leverage….So in typical McGiver fashion, pulling a hank of rope from his pocket, and with a chunk of wood and the other pipe, that I had managed to unscrew from the lake muck, he fashioned a fulcrum affair that provided the necessary leverage and lift to pull the pipe out.

If you want to try this, all he did was tie a couple of hitches around the pipe in the lake, and another around the other pipe that was to become the lever, they use a chunk of wood for the fulcrum to rest the lever upon.

When it was set up, we applied some pressure to the lever, I grunted and groaned like I was really straining, and presto, we had the pipe out of the muck and pulled it up to the float.

The rest of the remove the wharf project was fairly uneventful. We unbolted each section of wharf and walkway and pulled them back toward the next one, unbolted it, and then pulled to the next one, until we all them all piled on the end float. From there it was just a matter of floating the whole works over to our boat launch area and pulling it up….well…I made that sound a little easier than it was. Considering that each part probably weighs a few hundred pounds, it does require a bit of lifting, lugging, grunting, groaning and other cardiac arrest inducing stuff.

However, with the aid of Dave’s Mazda 4X4 truck, we pulled the wharf sections up on a couple of rollers and dragged them up and out of the water. Safe and sound for another year.

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2 thoughts on “Taking The Wharf In For Winter”

  1. Thanks for the info. So far, I’ve left my docks in the lake to face the ravages of winter. Usually they are still in place in the springtime but I have to do some normal adjustments. Have you ever thought of just letting your floating docks stay put until April?

  2. Hi Michael. Thanks for your comment. I have considered leaving the dock in lake for winter, infact I used to do that, but found that the ice tore it up pretty good one year, so I have been pulling it out. However, the older I get, the more I think that leaving it in the lake is a better answer. Do you leave it tied close to shore or away from shore? I think away from shore might be the right way to do it. What do you think?