Access to a dock is important to anyone wanting to use a boat. Boating is something both young and old enjoy. Many memories have been created on a boat or a dock. However, those moments are not as easy for some people to enjoy.

What about those who are not physically able to get to the dock or access the boat?  It may be someone with an injury to a leg. It may be an older adult.  People may have a fear of falling on the shore or getting into a boat.

For some people, access to a boat is an exhausting experience. Still, they want to enjoy the experience and want to be with their family.

What can you do to help them access your boat?

How about starting at the shore end with a longer dock ramp?  Why?  With the increasingly high waters the last few years you probably find that the standard ramp is now very steep.  Your dock has to be installed higher to adjust to these high waters, But you probably have standard 8, 10 or 12-foot ramps.  Up until now, these ramps have worked very well.  Those ramps, combined with the increased dock heights, have resulted in a steeper angle to walk up. It may be almost impossible for the elderly to access your dock without assistance.

What if a 10′ ramp is still too steep?

Pier & Waterfront Solutions has the solution for you!  After all, it’s part of our name!

What if your guests could safely walk over the rocks & the hot sand in comfort?

The first question is –  Would you like a longer ramp to reduce the angle?  Next, do you have an aluminum dock or a galvanized dock? 

Residential gangways may be the answer for you.  Residential gangways are available in 16, 20, and 24-foot lengths. The angle would be much lower and it will put your gangway much further up the shoreline to protect your dock in storms.

In most cases, we can even match your existing decking on the residential gangways.

Gangways provide easy access to a dock


What about Commercial aluminum gangways?

Need a longer length?  Commercial gangways are available in lengths up to 60′ long.  Included handrails give you for even more safety. Remember, commercial gangways come with aluminum decking only. Give PWS a call to get things rolling for Spring 2020.

What about galvanized docks?

PWS recently designed a 20′ galvanized dock ramp that will be available in the spring of 2020. The 20′ galvanized ramp will make your access to the dock much easier.

No more walking over the hot sand or worse yet, the uncertainties of stepping onto the rocks. Is this the year someone will twist their ankle? A twisted ankle (or broken leg or arm) can ruin the summer for months. Crutches get old very fast!

No matter how high your dock is, you will have a gentle walk to the dock height with a gangway.  Forget about picking up the sand from the beach and depositing it on the dock. You’ll be walking over it.

 What other solutions does PWS offer for your dock and boat lift?

Handrails for dock access safety

Dock Handrails

Dock handrails can be added to your existing dock. Put them on one or both sides of your dock for extra security for the elderly and children. They come in various lengths and mount on all of the Shoremaster Infinity dock systems.

Don’t have a ShoreMaster dock? We can custom make them fit the dimensions you need.  We’re all about Solutions!

Boat Loading Handrails

image of Boat Loading Handrails

Boat Loading Handrails

Boat loading handrails make it easy and safer to access your boat.from a dock. They give stability for the entire family. Have an elderly parent or friend who could use the extra support and confidence to access the boat?  These handrails are a great way to provide a safe experience for them.

Where is PWS?

PWS is located in the center of Door County at 7325 St Hwy 57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and about 5 miles south of Sturgeon Bay. Look for the intersection of Idlewild Road.  

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email for more information. 


Gangways – Another way to access a Dock – Updated


Gangways may be the best solution for your dock access problems.

On the Door County peninsula, the wave action is unpredictable.  The only thing you can count on is – the waves will be high many times during the summer.  You have to be ready for them by setting your dock high out of the water to avoid damage in those storms.  

This height presents a problem.  In the past, 97% of docks used a ramp to get to the dock height.  In this case, the typical ramp was 8 or 10-foot long.  8’ long ramps present a steep angle which is hard for young kids and older adults to navigate.

Due to the low angle provided by a gangway, it is easier to access the dock.


PWS has provided several different options for docks in the past.  The options included – ramps, stairs and now gangways with handrails.

With the rising waters in recent years, we see damage to shorter ramps caused by debris brought in by the storms. 

In addition, another problem is decking being torn off the ramp frames by the waves. 


Gangways come in 16’, 20’ and 24-foot lengths. The angle is greatly reduced versus a short ramp.  This makes access much easier. Gangways get you away from the washed-up debris in storms.

image of Gangway for dock access

Gangway off a seawall

If you have a seawall, gangways may allow you direct access to your dock.  You may not have to go down to the beach or over the rocks at all.  Gangways placed on steep embankments make the descent easier and safer.

At times, to allow access to the beach or dock, permanently mounted steps are attached to the sides of cliffs.  In spring, the ice shoves damage the lower sections of the stairway.  Attaching a removable or pivoting gangway to the last section can save expensive damage to the steps.

image of door county ice shove - 2016

Door County Ice Shove – 2016

Many people have large boulders they must go over to get to the dock.

image of Gangways over the shore

Gangways over the shore


Gangways can prevent twisted ankles or falls on slippery surfaces.

They are another means to access your deck on the house. 

Where can you find the solution to any Dock or boatlift problem?

At Pier & Waterfront Solutions, of course!

PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 42/57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles South of Sturgeon Bay. Look for the Idlewild Road intersection. 

Our staff is ready to assist you year round.

Contact us if you want to see an issue discussed on our site.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email with any questions.

Boat Loading Handrails Provide Security for Docks

Boat Loading Handrails

Boat Loading Handrails make it easy and safe to access your boat from your dock.  They give stability for the entire family when moving from the dock to the boat.  People really appreciate this steady handrail.

image of dock Loading Handrails

Dock Loading Handrails

Have an elderly parent or friend who could use the extra support?  This is a great way to provide safe entry and exit from your boat.

Dock Handrails

Dock side handrails can be put on the length of your dock.  Put them on one or both sides of your dock for extra security for the elderly and children.  They come in various lengths and can be used on all of the Shoremaster Infinity dock systems.

image of Dock Handrail

Dock Handrail


Found this article helpful?  Go to “NEWS” on any page of our website for a complete list of articles meant to keep you informed on the latest product information and maintenance issues. Check out our “older entries” also.

The wide variety of articles on dock and boat lifts issues will answer many of your questions.   PWS believes that an informed consumer makes better decisions.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email for more information.  

.  Coming Soon – “The PWS Store” on our website.


Lighting – How to Select Dock Lighting

Lighting: How to select Dock Lighting

Lighting for your dock and boat lift is important for the security of your boat and the safety of your guests. Follow these suggestions to enhance the security, safety and appearance of your dock.

Why Install a Solar-Powered Light System vs an AC powered Lighting System

Both systems can be controlled by solar cells.  They turn on automatically when the light level dims and turn off again at dawn.  Solar powered lights cost nothing to use and are safer to operate, with no risk of shocks.

Reminder: If your dock requires installation and removal each year, a solar powered light system will not require power line removal.  Solar powered lights are self-contained with no exposed wires to deal with.  Dock sections can be separated easily without wires.

Solar lights do not require additional power boxes at the shore with safety circuits in the house or shed.

Where can dock lighting be located?

image of dock light

Dock Light




The preferred position for lights is on the deck surface or on the leg posts.  This deck mounted style can be mounted along the edge of the dock where you are not likely to step on it



image of dot lights

Dot Lights


Another type of deck mounted solar light is mounted directly into the decking surface.  They require a hole be drilled into the decking and the light inserted into the hole almost flush with the decking.





image of post lights at night Post lights at night

A post mounted light fixture is mounted on a leg post at about 24 to 35 inches above the decking.  Some are mounted into the top of the post after removing the plastic caps.

 For Visual Drama and Safety, Illuminate the Water’s Edge

image of Dock Side Lighting

Dock Side Lighting


Add a set of lights that shine into the water and reflect off the edges of the dock. This adds both visual impact and a second safety factor.  The dock is more visible as you bring the boat in to your lift.

 Choose Lighting that Will Help Identify Your Dock

At night, it can be difficult to distinguish which dock is yours.  This is especially true if you cannot see any of the landscaping or tree outlines. If neighboring docks use the same colored lights it can be difficult to pick the correct one.

Consider adding red and green lights at the end of your dock to help you steer your boat to the correct side at night.  You can use any available color scheme at the end.

 Light for Safety When Leaving the Dock Area

Place a tall light, which directs most of its light downward, at the entrance to your path or stairway up from the dock. Avoid lights that cast bright light widely, so your guests and neighbors can sleep.

Found this article helpful?  Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email for more information.  Also go to “NEWS” on any page of our website for a complete list of articles meant to keep you informed on the latest product information and maintenance issues.