By Bruce Claflin, Scuttlebutt Magazine

If you are one of the thousands who have boats and equipment at a remote location, you know that the worries of ‘absentee’ ownership are many. Every cabin owner who is not onsite everyday has a story.

Almost all have had experiences with equipment failures, criminal activity, or some problem that escaped their awareness. It’s one of the many issues that face those of us who own and store equipment at a property that we are miles away from most of the week.

We make plans for a big weekend, many times with guests, only to arrive at our lake homes to find that while we were gone some problem has developed. The lift motor has stopped working, maybe the boat is full of water because the bilge pump has failed. Now we are faced with getting service late on Friday night or early Saturday morning, not an easy thing to do. Perhaps equipment that we thought was secure is suddenly missing and we are spending the day replacing skiis, wakeboards, or that big tube the kids love. Before you know it the weekend and your time on the water, is shot.

Enter the Dock Bot team. Bryan Koehn, Don Mink, and Jeff Sonnenberg are no strangers to these problems. They all hail from Wisconsin where each spent most of their time on the water while they were growing up. Each of them have had personal experiences like those described above. The three were friends, getting to know each other while they each worked in different capacities within the tech world.

While all three brought different skills and vision to Dock Bot, they all shared one passion—how to use technology to improve daily life. Each was aware of what technology had brought to the world. All had utilized technology via smart phone apps to control lights, garage doors, and thermostats, helping them to efficiently manage their homes.
Each knew the comfort, the convenience, and the power, of being able to control their environments—even the security to see who was at their front door using available technology. Given their backgrounds in the boating lifestyle, it wasn’t long before they realized that they could bring that same convenience and security to the waterfront and Dock Bot was born.

Dock Bot Team (L-R) Bryan Koehn, Jeff Sonnenberg, and Don Mink

Headquartered in Woodbury, MN. the Dock Bot team quickly realized that there was a void in the marine benefits the homeowner, the benefits of the Dock Bot technology are brilliantly designed to benefit those with docks and boats. Some of our most significant investments are tied to our docks, often unattended.

With that in mind, this innovative trio set out a couple of years ago to utilize smart phone technology in creating waterfront solutions. Dock Bot is an add-on to your existing mechanical lift, shore power, or power supply (such as 12 volt solar) that provides motion detection and alerting to your mobile device. Lights turn on and you can view images and video whenever motion is detected around your boat. Photographic records can also aid law enforcement in the recovery of equipment should it be stolen, or provide your insurance provider with information that could speed up a potential claim.

The system is easily expandable to support items around your dock. Dock Bot also provides control of your dock lighting and mechanical lift. You can raise and lower your lift with the Dock Bot system, even receive notifications on your cell phone if your lift breaks or fails. The capability to contact your dealer and order repairs via the app has already been built in. Smart phone apps of course allow the user to receive beneficial upgrades through updates that can be pushed to your cell.

Imagine the convenience of operating your waterfront equipment with your smart phone via the cellular network 24 hours a day no matter where you are. Enjoy the comfort and security of being able to check on your equipment 24/7—getting notifications of problems when they occur, not when you are finally on scene to make the discovery. Convenience, security, and the peace of mind that comes form knowing your valuable assets are safe and secure. This system provides solutions for a myriad of problems that boat owners have always faced, and it does so efficiently and affordably.

While the Dock Bot system is currently in the beta testing stage, pre-orders are being accepted for delivery in July of this year. Those interested in learning more should visit the company’s website at, once there you can see plan pricing and get on the list for updates.

No question, no brainer, this is a system whose time has come for anyone who has a boat and a dock.