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How We Went Into Dock Shock at the Cabin

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The mercury finally shifting, Colin and Justin turn their attentions to creating the perfect cottage dock...

So the weather, God damn it, is changing and the mercury's vertiginous ascent has finally begun. Indeed, as the prospect of kicking our heels (barefoot, of course) looms large, we're hell bent on dusting off our snorkels, rooting out our Speedo's and preparing to dive in the lake. OK, perhaps we should leave swimming for another couple of months but, whichever way you chop it, summer is just around the corner.

And are we happy with the prospect of warmer climes? Of course we are. We're similarly thrilled with the transformation, thus far, of our entire cabin project. We hope you're enjoying the ongoing tribulations both here and on Cottage Life TV, and we promise loads more inspiration to come. But today, the ice age finally abating, we're thrilled to bring you a pre broadcast peek at just some of the work we've undertaken, outside.

In today's lacklustre before shot, witness our original dock, a green painted, ahem, 'floating' structure that had, you know, stopped floating in certain places. The best part of 25 years old, its buoyancy ability was rapidly becoming past tense. And walking on it hazardous, to say the very least...

Due to the time sensitive nature of our TV series (14 weeks to restore the whole house, design -- and build -- a two bedroom guest annex, install a new septic system and completely landscape our grounds) we had to make some radical decisions about our existing dock. As far as we could see, we only had one option.

Our first move was to contact a specialist company to take the old dock away, but their quote (the best part of $1,500) left us reeling. Surely there was a more economical way forward?

And so it came to pass that, settled at the end of our dock (all the time avoiding the sinking corners) we cracked open the beer as conversation turned to the chap who'd visited to talk removal. His words rang in our ears: "$1500 to take it away, though it's actually saveable if you're prepared to bust a gut fixing it up." Hmm... We didn't have that time but perhaps somebody else would. So we got to thinking... and iPhone snapping the deck from various angles. Later that evening we stuck it on Kijiji for $800, along side an honest appraisal of its condition.

The result? Well, let's just say we could have sold it 10 times over -- our inbox went into meltdown. An adorable couple (the first who viewed, in fact) fell in love with the structure's potential and, over two days (having taken it apart into sections) towed it to a nearby boat launch. Thereafter, with the assistance of a trailer, it was hoisted on to a rented flatbed truck and dispatched to its new home. The upshot is we avoided the $1,500 removal cost and made $800 into the bargain. Which, as we see it, is like making $2,300. Results!

Suitably buoyed (geddit?) by our floating dock victory, we turned our attentions to the next stage of our master plan -- that being the selection of a company to build our new jetty. On the recommendation of a trusted colleague, we engaged Ny Dock Pipefusion and set to work.

The Pipefusion system, we quickly learned, offers excellent buoyancy and, crucially, superior stability to perfectly support the social traffic we fully intend spreading across summer 2014. Cue sunrise breakfasts for overseas guests, swimming parties during languid afternoons and sundown soirees as the big yellow yields to atmospheric dusk. Yes indeed, fun times, we anticipate, lie ahead...

As our director Catherine and our camera man Gord diligently captured the moment (watch the drama unfold at 10 p.m., tomorrow, Tuesday) we held our breath as our brand new wooden dock arrived across our glistening lake. When all pieces were in place, the installation team dived underwater to connect and anchor the whole shebang. Rather ingeniously, the system allows the platform to remain in water over winter, even as ice sets, thanks to adjustable ropes and chains that rise and fall to cope with changing conditions.

We initially planned staining or varnishing our new dock, but Pipefusion explained another option was to leave the wood to weather naturally and take on the joyous grey patina redolent of so many other docks and decks in cottage country. And besides -- with varnish and stain come the issue of ongoing upkeep. Our decision was made.

Turning to matters decorative, we ordered several yards of jaunty yellow striped Robert Allen fabric which was subsequently fashioned into comfy cushion pads by the team at Ciao Sofa Designs. With the cottage chattels, we'd inherited a couple of sun loungers and, though their accompanying cushions had seen better days, the wooden structure of each was sound. Arranged along side two beauties from Wicker Emporium (top tip: buy end of season when discounts are best -- we paid less than a hundred bucks each) we have bags of lounging space which can be further augmented, as required, with folding deck chairs.

As a finishing detail, we added potted evergreens and lined the walkway from the shoreline to the main dock platform with steel storm lamps from Ikea. By day these look cute but, as night falls, they come into their own, twinkling and dancing against Muskoka's inky skies.

For the record, these lovely images were snapped at the end of last summer and winter has since completely engulfed the potent summer scene. But all that is about to change. Perhaps we'll dispense with the notion of jumping into the lake sporting the aforementioned Speedo budgie smugglers. For reasons of common decency we'll probably opt for board shorts. Pulled up Simon Cowell style, you understand, to, ahem, 'flatter' our waistlines. Come on -- give us a break: that was a seriously brutal winter.

And any self respecting Scot knows to take in as much fuel as possible (reserves, doncha know) as the mercury begins its decline. Let's just say we're still to discharge that fine layer of winter excess. Diet sheets at the ready? Here comes summer on the dock!

New episodes of 'Colin and Justin's Cabin Pressure' air on Cottage Life TV at 10 p.m. each Tuesday. Check listings for daily reruns. Cottage Life is currently in free preview.

For more information visit www.cabinpressure.tv

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