PWC are without a doubt one of the most fun type of boats around, but they’re also one of the more challenging to store for the waterfront property owner. Unlike a boat, most manufacturers don’t recommend you leave them tied up to the dock overnight or at anchor. Most waterfront owners, however, don’t really appreciate the hassle of regularly hauling them out on a trailer.
One alternative is to invest in a PWC docking system. For sheer simplicity, I like the SportPort (and no, they’re not paying me to say that). Made of polyethylene and featuring a foam core, SportPorts are essentially unsinkable floating platforms, with the middle of the topside molded to roughly match the hull design of a PWC. The material won’t mar most hull finishes, and has no moving parts to keep lubed up or worry about rusting. It also stays cool underfoot.
Using a SportPort is simple. Get finished riding and you simply gently apply the gas to power your PWC up and onto the dock, where it stays put by weight and friction. When you need to launch, just lift and push the bow of the ski to slide it off into the water. I’ve even had good success just sitting aboard the craft and rocking, pulling on the handlebars as you do to slide the ski back off the platform and into the water.
The advantages to a pre-made docking system are many. First and foremost, they keep your craft out of the water. No worries about a boat tied up to the dock or at anchor taking on water or being battered by passing boat’s wakes or wind-driven waves; no concerns about the pump filling with debris; no pulling your ski out at the local ramp or pulling it up onto a shoreline. They also provide a stable platform to work on your boat. All feature nonskid surfaces to keep you from taking a slip on the deck even when really wet, and most can be combined with other dock components to create virtually any sort of design, whether it’s just a simple PWC dock tethered to an existing seawall, or an entire docking system for several craft.
The basic SportPort is essentially 5’ x 12’, and secured to any fixed structure via solidly mounted PWC pipe. The pipes simply run through openings at the end of the SportPort to allow it to float and rise and fall with a tide, or compensate for waves. Pipes can be fastened to a dock or seawall, or in some cases, even driven into the ground. Additional sections attach via a locking pin, making it easy to add on, modify, or disassemble when necessary.
Other similar alternatives? EZPort (www.ez-dock.com) uses a similar drive-on design, but adds rollers to lessen the resistance. Individual sections can then be added to create virtually any required dock space. JetDock (www.jetdock.com) opts for individual polymer cubes all around, combined to create the desired shape.
No, none of the above is cheap. Plan on spending upwards of $1500 even for the most basic system. But for the added peace of mind they provide, they make a great choice for those lucky enough to enjoy a waterfront view.