BoardSafe Docks Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most.

The short answer is, “No, BoardSafe’s floating docks, fishing piers, gangways, and adaptive accessible kayak launches do not necessarily need to be removed for the winter.”

User groups in the northern United States and Canada will be happy to know that BoardSafe’s docks and launches can remain in the water for the winter as long as there is no fluctuation in the body of water where the launch is located and there are no ice pack movements down a river that could damage the product. That said, a floating dock, fishing pier, or adaptive launch with a steady level and flow of water around it will endure the winter and can be left in the water. However, this decision should not be made in isolation without having conversations about winter weather conditions with both park managers and the sales team from BoardSafe Docks.

BoardSafe’s products use high-quality marine-grade aluminum, composite lumber, plastic encapsulated flotation, stainless steel hardware, and other materials selected for their durability and ability to withstand extreme elements. However, acts of Mother Nature, and unusual site situations, like draining a lake or moving chunks of ice must be taken into consideration. Preparation should be taken for the most extreme of all possible weather conditions.

The docks can be purchased with optional skid rails which provide protection for docking systems that need to be removed for the winter.

There are three main components used in manufacturing a BoardSafe aluminum floating dock. The combination of these materials has provided a structural, aesthetically pleasing floating dock system with a life span of 20 to 30 years. The system is intentionally designed for minimum maintenance and upkeep. The floating docks are engineered for maximum flotation stabilization considering plastic-encapsulated floats’ size, number, and placement. The marine conditions and water movement (tidal waters, rivers, lake ice, etc.) are also considered in the design and manufacturing.

The BoardSafe Floating Dock System is manufactured using the following materials:

  • Aluminum Frame
    • Marine Grade 6061 or 6063
    • Welded connections
    • Stainless steel fasteners
  • Composite Decking
    • Rated for commercial use
    • Rated for anti-slip in accordance with ADA requirements
  • Plastic Encapsulated Flotation
    • Foam-filled
    • Plastic shell

Many customers inquire about using pressure-treated lumber because of the perceived cost savings. If the application is in a warm climate, the sun may destroy the wood in approximately 8 years. If the application is in the northern part of the United States, the wood is subjected to freezing temperatures and ice, making its lifespan approximately 8 – 9 years. Manufacturers of composite lumber confidently state that synthetic wood products last over 20 years. This being the case, the total cost of ownership for a composite wood dock is less than a dock made of pressure-treated. It will last longer and offer aesthetic value to the docking system.

An adaptive kayak launch includes additional features that provide access to paddlers with disabilities and mobility limitations. The comprehensive features found only in a BoardSafe Adaptive Kayak Launch include:

    1:12-sloped, ADA-compliant, Aluminum Gangway, and Kayak Chute

The ADA-compliant gangway runs adjacent to a composite decking kayak chute. This design allows individuals to ease their kayak down the chute while traveling down the gangway. Both the gangway and floating launch are constructed with a 36″ continuous handrail along the perimeter, consistent with ADA requirements.

      Aluminum-Welded Floating Dock

Aluminum floating docks are engineered for maximum stabilization important to adaptive paddlers Marine conditions and water movement (tidal waters, rivers, lake ice, etc.) are also considered when designing and engineering a floating aluminum dock system and will afford the best stability compared to a plastic or wooden dock.

     Aluminum Boarding Bench

The launch’s boarding bench is 16″ high and equal to the seat of a wheelchair. BoardSafe collaborated with a group of para-kayakers to determine its height which allows adaptive kayakers to slide onto the bench directly from their chair. The boarding bench has four levels of a gradual 3.5-inch step-down toward the vessel. On the last transition, there is a pullout seat that extends out and across the top of the boat. The user can simply slide out across the bleacher-type seat and lower themselves into the vessel with a minimal drop.

     Adaptive Roll Cage

Surrounding the boarding bench is the adaptive roll cage. This adaptive kit includes a frame of various handrails, an overhead grab bar, and hand straps that provide numerous gripping options to lower paddlers into their vessels. The overhead handrail runs the length of the bench down to the boat. It also offers adaptive paddlers the choice to slide down the bench from either side depending on their preference. 

     Secure Chute Provides Stable Entry

Adding to the stability of the launch is a cradle-like chute that holds the kayak or canoe securely in place. The chute provides support to the vessel in the water with a partially-submerged bracket system. The snug fit of the cradle removes any worry about tipping or moving unexpectedly, which is a risk with a roller-type launch system. Adaptive paddlers have reported that roller-type launches do not securely hold kayaks in place. With roller launches, gravity can cause the vessel to shift upon entry, making a cradle launch the safest option.

     Handrails to Slide Kayak into Water

Once the adaptive paddler is securely fitted into the vessel, there are appropriately-spaced handrails on each side of the cradle that allow the kayaker to grab onto and pull themselves slowly into the water. 

Follow this link to view an empowering video of an adaptive paddler using the BoardSafe launch independently: The Most Accessible Adaptive Kayak Launch.

Yes, canoes up to 38 inches in width can be used.

At first glance, a paddler may believe that rollers will assist a paddler in launching their vessel into the water.  Rollers allow the vessel to move easily toward the water, however, they can be a problem when a paddler is boarding or disembarking their vessel, especially if the paddler has mobility limitations or is in need of additional adaptive features to enter and exit their vessel.  Rollers are also known to damage the hulls of certain types of kayaks.

BoardSafe Kayak Launches are designed with a supportive cradle that securely holds the kayak in place until the kayaker is ready to enter the water, with no sliding, tilting, or unexpected movements until the kayaker is ready.

Rowing docks are floating docks especially designed for rowing, sculling, crewing, or paddling. Rowing centers are built on lakes and rivers and are often managed by universities, rowing clubs, or government agencies like local municipalities and park systems.

The most structural and durable rowing docks are aluminum-welded frames with plastic-encapsulated flotation. The low-profile docks are lower to the water than a standard dock with a freeboard of approximately 5 inches above the water. Additionally, rowing docks are built with flotation and stability features, large gangways, and other components that best enable a team and many crew members to load their boats in and out of the water as well as have individuals safely enter and exit their racing shell. Aluminum rowing docks and gangways are virtually maintenance-free and nonpolluting and the choice of top-performing rowing teams.

Freeboard is the height of the dock above the water line. Floating aluminum rowing docks are close to the water and considered low-profile. BoardSafe, a leading rowing dock designer and manufacturer, offers low-profile rowing docks with 5 inches of freeboard. BoardSafe achieves this with a proprietary flotation design calculation that offers maximum stability of the rowing dock coupled with a sturdy, marine-grade 6160 aluminum frame on the dock that rests solidly on the water. Read more about freeboard here:The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Floating Docks and Rowing Dock’s Freeboard.

To help determine the length of gangway needed for your project, the following article will guide you in determining the length of your gangway and keeping it ADA-compliant.

What Length Gangway Provides Handicap Access for an ADA Floating Dock, Fishing Pier, or Adaptive Kayak Launch?

Tidal fluctuation will impact the length of the gangway and allow it to remain ADA-compliant or render it useless. Please refer to the link below to see how tidal changes affect the length of the gangway and associated costs.

How to Calculate ADA Gangway Length to Provide Handicap Access for an ADA Floating Dock, Fishing Pier, or Adaptive Kayak Launch

BoardSafe floating dock systems are made from aluminum, plastic encapsulated floats, and composite decking, therefore typically no maintenance is required.

The site work is minimal but must include a means of egress from the parking lot to the proposed launch and a concrete bulkhead to support the gangway and floating dock system.

The main advantage of an aluminum floating dock is its ability to provide easy boating access at a freeboard determined by the boating vessel. Floating docks are engineered for maximum flotation stabilization depending on the size, number, and placement of plastic-encapsulated floats. Marine conditions and water movement of tidal waters, rivers, lake ice, etc. are also considered to maximize stability and the dock’s freeboard. If pilings are being utilized they should be driven after the floating dock is installed, not before.

Aluminum-welded floating docks are considered by many dock owners to be the best material choice because they require little to no maintenance, will not rot, decay, warp, or twist, and only need to be cleaned as you see fit. Aluminum floating docks are relatively lightweight while remaining extremely structural and durable. Aluminum is a smart choice for those looking to reduce the work required to maintain old wood decking. Another advantage of aluminum decking is that it tends to stay cooler in the sun because of its ability to reflect and dissipate heat.

Pressure-treated wood requires annual maintenance rituals and in the end, will still rot, warp, splinter, and decay over time. It provides a short-term fix but not a long-term solution.

Plastic or roto-molded docks require less maintenance than wood and are quite affordable. However, their shortcomings include being less structural and durable compared to aluminum-welded floating docks, plastic docks are prone to puncturing, and will not weather well over time. Their structure cannot support a lot of weight or heavy usage compared to a more structural and durable aluminum-welded frame. Boating areas with heavy usage such as public docks or courtesy docks where user traffic is high are better suited for aluminum docks. There may be a higher cost upfront, but the benefits will outweigh the costs with a more structural and durable system, a longer life expectancy, and a system requiring little to no maintenance over its lifetime.

Yes, the components are “dry fit” at our plant and come with comprehensive instructions.  We also provide zoom, facetime, or phone consultation as part of the sale to guide customers in the installation process.

Yes. All docks will sink when excessive weight is added to the deck surface beyond the maximum occupancy. However, under normal usage, BoardSafe Docks provide an average buoyancy rating of at least 30 pounds per square foot.  For example, a 10-foot by 10-foot dock is designed to support 3000 pounds of live load.

BoardSafe Docks manufactures a number of standard-size kayak launches, gangways, chutes, and floating docks. These components can be arranged in countless configurations to meet the site conditions and needs of our customers.

The following link provides different launch layouts that will affect your pricing:

There are 20 different configurations that BoardSafe Docks has put together to meet customers’ unique needs and to ensure usability for adaptive paddlers. Our goal is to make sure our launch system provides the necessary features that accommodate the widest range of user abilities. We’ve evaluated hundreds of launch sites and have learned what’s needed to enable our customers to safely and easily access their vessels and get out onto the water.

BoardSafe’s sales team members are available to evaluate your waterfront and make recommendations about the launch system that will work best for your application and your intended users. After your site has been evaluated, our sales professionals will guide you on the layout that will be the best option for your users and your access point. They will also assist you with budgetary numbers for your site’s design.

Local nonprofit, state, and federal grants are proliferating to increase outdoor accessibility with adaptive kayak launches and other ADA recreational products.

If you know of additional grants, please contact us at and we will add them to this list. Click below for available grants that we are currently aware of.

Available Grants for ADA Accessible & Adaptive ADA Kayak Launches – BoardSafe Docks