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Docks Unlimited

Tough terrain calls for creative solutions

Docks Unlimited client Greg Palmer says the practical and virtual journey from moving into his cottage five years ago and finally installing a dock was an interesting one.

An avid boater, Greg was using his neighbours’ dock and the arrangement worked well. At least it did until that dock got smacked hard by high waves on Georgian Bay, causing enough damage to render it useless.

So, Greg turned to a marina, but after a year it was obvious this wasn’t going to be a long-term solution. In late 2020, he decided it was in his best interest to invest in a dock.

But he didn’t want to settle for any old structure, so he slowly began doing some research and getting quotes on the project from a variety of companies. The problem wasn’t getting quotes: it was trying to get a company to put up the dock so Greg could have it for at least part of 2020 boating season.

Docks Unlimited were able to meet Greg’s timeline, while also doing a great job and providing solutions where necessary. The dock and accessories were expertly installed last summer and were being used by the owners in the first week of August.

“We got two good months of use before needing to take it out of the water,” says Greg. “It was great to just be sitting on our dock, enjoying the weather and the view. We were really happy with the results and are excited for this year.”

Docks Unlimited also took the dock out last fall and then will reinstall in the spring so Greg will get a full summer of use in 2021.

Challenging terrain
Installing the dock required creativity as well as speed: with large rocks and nearly impassable terrain on Greg’s property, the Docks Unlimited crew needed to find creative solutions to get larger pieces of the project to the shoreline. It took extra muscle and energy, and the support of a friendly neighbour who allowed the crew to physically carry the dock through their less-sloped property, piece by piece.

“The install crew didn’t complain once,” recalls an impressed Greg. “They said, ‘no problem, we can do that.’ And they got the job done by finding a solution.”

Docks Unlimited sales consultant Dylan Downie says Greg’s dock system is carefully installed to sit three feet off the water – which lets waves break under the dock, instead of against it. This is essential for large bodies of water like Georgian Bay, Lake Huron or Lake Simcoe – or any lake which sees large fluctuations in water height throughout the year, as well as intense waves and wind hitting the shoreline.

Taking into consideration all these factors, Docks Unlimited advised Greg that his best option was a ShoreStation pipe dock system. Greg also chose aluminum decking because he wanted to keep his dock as low-maintenance and long-lasting as possible.

The dock height can be adjusted should water levels continue to change.

Shifting water levels
Well-suited for the rough waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, the ShoreStation system is also easily taken out for the winter and re-set for the summer.

The dock can also be adjusted to match a new waterline, should the water see a drastic rise during the summer, something Great Lakes property owners have seen a lot of in the past few years. Each ShoreStation pipe dock comes with simple levers to raise and lower the height, no tools needed. 

“Taking the dock out for the winter protects it from potential damage caused by waves, wind and ice,” says Dylan.

Several years ago, low water levels were an enormous concern on Georgian Bay. Since then, water levels have risen four feet on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay over a seven-year span.

“The rising water levels have resulted in many permanent docks sitting under water or being completely destroyed,” he says.

Decades of experience
It’s this kind of insight that the Docks Unlimited team provides all their clients. The company’s owner Gord Harris has lived on southern Georgian Bay since 1964 and started the business in 1988. Both Gord and his son, long time sales rep Richard Harris, have seen all types of weather patterns and water level changes; and they use this knowledgeable experience for the benefit of their team and their clients.

This knowledge is also why Docks Unlimited has put their trust in selling and installing ShoreStation products. They create strong, durable dock systems which fit well with the needs of Docks Unlimited’s clientele: an A-frame brace allows legs to extend at a five-degree angle for maximum stability.

“They also have a clean and smooth look, which is a bonus for our clients,” explains Dylan. “It provides the peace-of-mind you need to enjoy your leisure time and get the most from your waterfront property.”

TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN

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