One of the best parts of heading out for a day on the water is the wide variety of docks that accompany the boating environments. As I was checking out some fishing spots the other day I noticed a wide variety of docks and came to a conclusion; I’ve never met a dock I didn’t like.
What I like best about docks is that they can be very simple or they can be complex. One that I noticed was a very simple affair. Several pilings and three planks is all that is required to moor jon boats, day sailors and other shallow draft boats. There are no frills that go with these docks, just a series of well-designed, properly constructed wood planks that enable a captain and his crew to go from land to vessel. Add an obligatory bird like a drake mallard and they are so simple and functional, they can’t be beat.
Other docks, particularly those that host bigger boats that draw between two and four feet or water (more if they are long-keeled sailboats) are more intricate. There are lines and fenders to keep boats safely moored. Some have portable steps to make it easier to come aboard over the high gunwales. Others have wash downs and brushes, fish cleaning stations, and crab nets or traps to keep the kids amused while mom and dad clean up the craft. If there are mooring buoys near the docks, then you’ll see small tender dinghies and kayaks scattered about. Any time you see these kinds of docks you know there are likely to be large groups of some of the happiest people you’ll meet. They are boaters and anglers, just like you and me.
Docks that hold multiple sailboats have custom-made dock fingers to make the best use of small amounts of space. These fingers are wider where they connect to the dock and skinnier as they stretch out towards the beamy part of the boat. And some docks have their own boathouses, too. The boathouses protect vessels during storms, and they offer storage room for gear and commonly used tools. Sails, rigging and engines are commonly worked on in these areas. In some areas they are the boat equivalent of a garage for your truck or car.
When I see a line of boats all neatly arranged in a dock, backed in and ready to go out for the day, I smile. Countless hours of work goes into each and every boat that is lashed to the dock, and their owners take pride in maintaining their craft to perfection. Every dock is different in its own unique way. Yes, it’s true; I’ve never met a dock I didn’t like.
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com