Got a Boat Dock – Maintenance Musts

For those who live on a waterway — river, lake, bay or canal — you’ve probably have built a boat dock using extremely hard wood. If you haven’t, think about it. Especially if you have a little skiff sitting on the grass or tied to a weight close to the shore.

We’ve got some tips for existing structures or a soon-to-be constructed ipe boat docks.

Try to Fit In

Before we get to what you’ll regularly need to do to keep it functional for years, this message is for those who are about to build their water-logged plank. You are borrowing a part of nature from other wildlife. By that we suggest constructing it so it doesn’t mess with the habitats of other animals. Beavers especially. We don’t have to tell you why except to remind you they have sharp teeth and love to gnaw-away at wood.

Likewise, keep it wide so it won’t interrupt the water as it splashes, naturally, along the shoreline. It prevents erosion where the water meets the land.

On the Surface

Since you’re concerned about the environment, you want to purchase some of our hardwoods that have not been treated. They don’t need to be. They hold-up their end of the bargain because of the trees they came from. There are some sealants on the market if you wish to take that path.

These are known as low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials. No petrochemicals or oils are in the formula. No pollution. As we mentioned before, with a wood like ipe it’s not a “must do” thing you need handle. But these low-VOC solutions are clear in color and add an extra measure of water-resistance. As if you’d need it with one of the hardest woods known to humanity.

Cleaning the Boat Deck Surface

We’ve got something you can concoct in your kitchen that’s environmentally safe. Mix together a three-to-one batch of olive oil and vinegar. This will take care of any mineral salt deposits or stains. Stir regularly and pour a little at a time and with a medium bristle broom, sweep the ugly away.

What if you accidentally spill some oil on the surface? Another trip to the kitchen. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Cover the area in question, let it dry, then hose it off.

We do not recommend pressure washers unless they are set very low — like under 900 PSI.

The Actual Structure

Take a good look at the boat dock every season. Get in the water and push at the legs, heartily. Walk across the surface with a heavy foot. Check any hardware for corrosion. To avoid rusting and the like, use stainless steel bolts, nails, nuts and all the other stuff that’s keeping it together when constructing it.

Find anything that needs fixing? Fix it. Right away. It will not only prolong the life of your deck.

It will also save you a trip to the hospital.

Remember that old tune by Otis Redding, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay?” Kind of a sad song, but he’s got the right idea:

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun

I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come

Watching the ships roll in

And then I watch ‘em roll away again

It really doesn’t get any better than that!

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