Boat Dock Vocabulary

At Wahoo, we know purchasing a new boat dock is not a task taken lightly.

Our commitment to you, our customer, is to earn your trust. We plan to do this by giving you the knowledge you need to ensure your new custom will be second-to-none.

There are many decisions to make throughout this process. However, while it can initially seem overwhelming, it is our mission to put you at ease with your choices.
Therefore, in our new eight-part blog series, you’ll learn all about how to make educated decisions when it comes to your custom boat dock.

Yet, before making too many decisions, it is important to familiarize yourself with some common terms you’ll need to know.

Boat Slips

This is typically where you’ll park your boat and have two parallel fingers on either side.


A boat dock roof has three primary functions. These include protecting things underneath; providing shade, and – in the case of an upper deck roof – to provide an additional usable area. There are three main dock roof styles for you to choose from.


Gangways provide access to and from your dock. The gangway is also what allow your boat dock to be out in deep water, yet still accessible.


Just like it sounds, boat dock anchoring is what ensures that your boat dock won’t float away. This is a crucial part of the dock building process. You have the following anchoring options: cable anchoring, pile anchoring and stiff arm anchoring are three of the most common methods.

Wahoo Docks AridDek Aluminum Boat Dock Decking

Wahoo Docks AridDek Decking


The decking is the material which will allow you to stand on your dock. Common decking materials include aluminum, wood, composite and concrete.


Dock floats maintain the buoyancy of your boat dock. Wahoo Docks uses PermaFloat dock floats. These foam-filled floats meet the Army Corps of Engineers regulations.


Bumpers provide protection for your boat or anything parked at your dock. P-bumpers are tacked onto the edge of the dock, while pole bumpersattach to the dock poles and face outward.


Dock railing is an option to consider if you choose to have an upper deck. Wahoo Docks offers several railing options.


Cleats are used to tie your boat to your dock. They are usually attached to the edge of the decking surface.

Boat lifts

For most boat docks, boat lifts are becoming the norm. Boat lifts are large plastic air tanks that create buoyancy to lift your boat out of the water.

PWC lifts

Personal watercraft lifts are made out of polystyrene in a rotomolded plastic shell. They make it possible to keep your PWC out of the water and protected when not in use.
Now that you know these common terms, it will be much easier to make decisions in your purchasing process. Terminology is one of the most important things to understand in order to make fully-informed choices.

Don’t know where to go from here? Check back for the next in our “Building Your Dream Boat Dock” series, where we’ll discuss aluminum dock strength.