Docking a pontoon boat can be a hairy experience, especially if one if attempting this feat on their own. Taking the wind into account, trying to line the boat up perfectly with the dock cleats, dealing with passengers and potential rogue waves rocking the boat—the experience can be pretty frustrating for a novice driver.
In fairness, because the ‘toon was built to accommodate many passengers, there is usually no shortage of willing and able helpers at the end of the day as you pull into the dock. But in many instances, the driver cannot count on his passengers to know their way around and be of assistance in the process. This is the case for Luc Cote.
Cote runs Five Star Water Taxi, a boat taxi service for Toronto Harbor in Canada, where a group of islands sit to the south. “It's basically a huge park, only water accessible,” Cote said.
Ferries run passengers back and forth, but private boats can also access the islands. Five Star Water Taxi ferries people over using pontoon boats. Cote’s taxi drivers do their job without the assistance of a partner, and Cote knew he needed to put safety first.
“I wanted a system that would permit my drivers to perform multiple docking and launching maneuvers in a safe, efficient, and stress-free manner,” Cote said. To that end, Cote began work on the Autodock. After some troubleshooting and testing, he arrived at a product that can be used in three different configurations to meet the needs of different types of docking sites, and also allows easy access for the disabled.
Obviously his main goal was to create a system where a ‘toon driver would be able to dock and undock his boat with no assistance whatsoever. After some research and thinking, he decided a bow-docking plan was the best choice. “By permitting bow-in docking, it is easy to reduce the overall length of dock required for your boat,” Cote said. “This feature alone means that Autodock is a cost-neutral product, and in some cases represents a cost savings over conventional docks.”
In addition, it is much simpler to drive a boat straight onto its docking location than to maneuver it into a sideways position. In the end, Cote had decided on three basic configurations for the Autodock. The first is a base system just for landing on floating docks. The second also allows for docking at a floating dock, but comes with an access ramp for wheelchairs. The final configuration is for fixed docks or docking on land. With these three options, pontoon boaters everywhere have the ability to dock their boats completely on their own.
It’s clear that Cote has revolutionized the way docking works.
For more information on the Autodock, visit www.pontoonautodock.com. For more information on Cote’s taxi service, visit www.FiveStarWaterTaxi.ca.