As I said last week, I have been lucky enough to score a few weeks off this summer while I am between jobs. Dallas and I kicked off this extended vacation with twelve days at my parents’ lake house in New Brunswick. Lucky us. We couldn’t have been happier about tons of outdoor time, which for Dallas included many hours spent doing the doggy paddle while she chases sticks in the lake.
That girl loves to swim. So when my parents got a new boat, no one was more excited than Dallas. She couldn’t wait to jump off the boat into the water. But while it was easy to get her off of the boat, getting her back on to the boat was a bit of a problem.
Enter my clever dad. After doing some online research, he decided to make a floating ramp-like device that Dallas could use to climb out of the water and on to the boat (or dock). It was so easy, and worked so well (after a few modifications), that I couldn’t wait to share this idea with all of you. Plus it only cost about $30 to make. Score.
Here is what we came up with…
1. Place the mats face-up. Note: When you’re done attaching the pool noodles to the top side of the mats, you’ll flip the whole thing over so that the bottom of the mats become the top surface of the ramp. This is intentional because it means that the “grippiest” side, i.e. the bottom of the mats, is on top.
2. Using 8 zip ties, attach the mats together along the long edges. You can attach the zip ties however you like, but we recommend putting 2 on each side, 2 in the middle, and 1 in between the middle and each side (see below). You will end up with a large surface that is 3′ x 5′. Note: Always trim the ends of the zip ties with scissors.
3. Using more zip ties, attach the 2 uncut skinny pool noodles to the long edges of the ramp. We used 6 zip ties for each pool noodle. Leave a space of about 6 inches from the bottom end (the water end) of the ramp. This allows the end of the ramp to sink down into the water a bit, making it easier for your dog to climb up. Make sure to also leave a space of about 1 foot from the top end of the ramp (you’ll understand why later on). If necessary, trim the pool noodles to fit.
Note: These 2 side noodles are a modification from our first failed attempt at making the ramp. Without these reinforcements on each side, the bottom half of the ramp will flip under the top half.
4. Attach the 4 thick pool noodle pieces to the inside of the ramp, in between and perpendicular to the side noodles. Keep them evenly spaced and towards the top end of the ramp.
5. Attach the two skinny pool noodle pieces towards the bottom end of the ramp.
6. Measure the width of your dock or boat ladder, and using a box cutter, trim the top end of the ramp so that it will fit in between the rails of the ladder.
7. Here’s how we originally attached our carabiners to the top of the ramp:
We do not recommend doing it this way. When Dallas used the ramp, the carabiners quickly started to tear through the rubber mat. Hence the addition of rope. On each side of the ramp, weave the rope in between the holes in the mat, and attach the carabiners to the rope instead of the mat (see below). This worked much better. And by using carabiners instead of simply tying the ramp to the ladder, the ramp can be easily moved in and out of place, from the dock to the boat and back again.
So after some trial and error, we ended up with an inexpensive, easy-to-make and easy-to-install dock and boat ramp… but does it work?! I’ll leave it to Dallas to show you…