Boats frozen in slips in Lake of the Ozarks boat docks and marinas.

Boat Docks at Lake of the Ozarks: How To Prepare For Ice!

As the coldest part of Winter approaches, it’s essential to make sure your Lake of the Ozarks boat docks are ready for a big freeze. The harsh winter weather conditions can cause damage to boat docks if they’re not properly winterized. So it’s critical to take the necessary steps to protect your investment. This article will discuss the importance of winterizing boat docks at Lake of the Ozarks. And we give you seven helpful tips to help prepare your dock for ice and heavy snow.

1. Remove Loose Items from Your Boat Dock

The first step in winterizing your boat dock is to remove any loose items from the dock. This includes boats, watercraft, and personal items such as furniture, grills, and decorations. 

These items can be damaged or cause damage to the dock if left outside during a winter storm. Additionally, removing any debris or leaves from the dock is a good idea to prevent water from pooling and freezing, which can damage the deck boards.

2. Securely Anchor Your Boat Dock

Next, you must ensure that the dock is securely anchored to the shore. Strong winds, waves, and ice can cause the dock to shift or become dislodged during a winter storm. 

Inspect your dock’s cables and make certain that the anchors are securely embedded in the shoreline. If you’re unsure if your dock is securely anchored, it’s a good idea to consult a professional.

3. Adjust Dock Cables & Check Hinges

It is generally a good idea to loosen the cables on your boat dock ramp before a major freeze on the Lake of the Ozarks. This is because as the water freezes, it expands and can cause significant damage to your dock and boat if the cables are not properly adjusted. Loosening the cables allows the dock to rise and fall with the changing water levels rather than being held in place by the frozen water.

Dock with a broken ramp after the recent lake drawdown and freeze

It’s also a good idea to check the hinges that connect your dock to the seawall before a major freeze. As the water level changes and the ice expands, the dock can put a lot of stress on the hinges. This can cause them to wear out or even break if they are not in good condition. If the hinges show signs of wear or rust, replacing them before a freeze is best. You should still lubricate them if they are in good condition to ensure they can move freely during the freeze.

4. Protect Against Ice Flow

Another important step in winterizing boat docks at Lake of the Ozarks is to protect the dock from ice flows. As the water in the lake freezes, ice can form around the dock and cause damage to the structure. 

To prevent this, dock owners in some regions install ice guards or fenders around the dock. These devices will absorb the impact of the ice and reduce the risk of damage to the dock. At Lake of the Ozarks, many boat dock owners install de-icers to protect boat lifts and docks

And if you don’t have a de-icer or bubbler, you should be prepared to manually break up the ice that forms around your dock.

5. Cover Your Boat Dock’s Surface

Protecting the dock surface from the elements to extend your dock’s lifespan is also smart. If you don’t have a covered dock, the surface will be exposed to harsh weather conditions. Heavy freezing rain, snow, and ice can cause damage and wear on the dock’s surface. 

To protect the surface of your dock, it is recommended to cover it with a waterproof cover or tarp. This will provide temporary protection against the elements.

6. Remove Snow & Ice from the Dock Roof

Many docks endure the issue of too much snow and ice accumulating on the roofs of their covered slips. The roof systems of floating docks are fashioned with very lightweight frames. As a result, the necessity for additional buoyancy is reduced, and this decreases the cost of the base dock system. 

Nevertheless, the structural requirements are challenged and tested if the ice or snow build-up is excessive. If the dock is asked to bear a load higher than what it is intended to support, bad things happen. It may not support the weight, and the roof will collapse. Or, the dock may not have enough buoyancy and will sink.

7. Inspect Your Boat Dock Thoroughly

Finally, checking your dock for any signs of wear or damage before the winter months is crucial. If you notice any issues, such as rotting wood or loose decking boards, you should address them before the deep freezing weather arrives. This will prevent the damage from worsening and help ensure that the dock is safe to use next year. And while you’re at it, remember to check the hardware to ensure that it’s all tightened down securely.

Warning: Boat Lifts Can Drop Down in Freezing Temps

Damaged boat sinking in a boat slip at Lake of the Ozarks

When using dock lifts with air-filled tanks to take your boat out of the water, the cold winter temperatures can decrease the air pressure, just like your vehicle tires need extra air. Many people don’t remember this until the lift has already dropped, leaving the boat floating in the slip.

This is precisely why it’s important to always tie the boat to the dock structure after putting it on the lift. We’ve seen many boats free-floating on the lake over the years! Boat lift companies get multiple calls about this every winter when there is a significant temperature drop.

Fortunately, it’s easy to solve the issue! You can use Firstmate Controls’ lift-control system. At LOTO Lift, we install Firstmate controls on all our floating boat lifts. This system works in tandem with an app on your mobile phone and will increase the pressure in the lift when it begins to fall unless you intentionally reduce it. Furthermore, the app will notify you if there is a difficulty with the lift, such as if it is no longer working.

Prepare Your Boat Dock and Lift Now!

In conclusion, winterizing boat docks at Lake of the Ozarks is essential to protecting your investment and ensuring your dock is safe to use next year. By removing loose items, securing the dock, adjusting cables, protecting it from ice damage, protecting the surface, and checking for wear or damage, you can ensure that your dock is ready for a big freeze. 

Remember, it’s always best to consult a professional if you’re unsure how to winterize your boat dock or boatlift properly. With some preparation and maintenance, you can ensure that your dock is ready to withstand harsh winter weather at Lake of the Ozarks.

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