The anchoring of a floating dock is often the most misunderstood, most under-appreciated component. And it is by far the area where most failures occur. In fact, the boat dock anchoring system design will impact the enjoyment and quality of your dock as much as any other feature! In short, a floating dock’s anchoring system has a major impact on its strength, durability, and maintenance requirements.

Here are six factors to consider when picking your dock’s anchoring system(s):

  1. Water Depth
  2. Distance the dock will reside from shore
  3. Potential amount and frequency of water level fluctuations
  4. Amount of wind and wave loads on the dock
  5. The dock configuration
  6. Local regulatory restrictions

With three decades of experience in the dock manufacturing industry, Wahoo Docks and our local authorized dealer partners understand that a floating dock’s anchoring needs vary tremendously depending upon the above factors. That is exactly why we offer several anchoring methods designed to suit the unique combination of factors present for different situations.

Pole & Sleeve

First of all, pole and sleeve consists of a rigid sleeve attached to the dock, through which slides a 4” diameter pole. Through the sleeve, the installer buries the pole in the ground. This type of anchoring is appropriate for bottoms that are not rocky. In addition, the pool & sleeve style is perfect for locations with heavy wind and wave loads. This anchoring system gives the dock flexibility to move toward and away from the shore during seasonal water fluctuations.


Piles, another design, may be composed of two piles or multi-piles in a variety of materials (wood, steel, concrete, or fiberglass) secured to the dock through pile rollers (UHMW-PE rollers enclosed in an aluminum framework). This method is similar to a Pole and Sleeve in that the vertical pole is securing the dock. However, because the installers drive the poles deeper into the ground and are not intended to be removed, it provides no dock relocation option during seasonal water fluctuations. Piles are good for docks that must endure heavy wind and water loads. They are made for use in deeper water than Pole and Sleeve Anchoring.

Stiff Arm

Stiff arm systems are made up of two or more reinforced arms hinging at the shore and on the dock and combined with cables that run diagonally between each arm.  The gangway often serves as one ‘leg’ of a stiff arm assembly. A stiff arm is a highly economical and effective means of anchoring for floating docks that are close to shore (without the need to chase seasonal water fluctuations).


And finally, cable systems consist of cables connected either to the shore, to weights in the water, or a combination of the two. Cables are the most economical and adaptable method that Wahoo Docks offers. This method is great for areas with extreme water fluctuations and depths. Cables can also bear heavy wind and wave loads.

Confused about which anchoring method to use? Click here to contact your local Wahoo Dealer for more information.