Union Marina 1


July 17, 2017

The classic wooden docks and fingers at the Union SteamShip Co. Marina are starting to show their age, becoming quite tippy and twisty. Back in 1989 the old wooden fingers and main docks were constructed up the Fraser River and towed to Snug Cove for assembly. These docks are unique for their time as they are constructed of a laminated wood frame with minimal joints. The main floats have continuous sections reaching up to 425 ft. long.

The difficulty with doing any major rebuild or replacement of marina floats usually requires emptying the entire marina or replacing major sections at a time, takes months and displaces hundreds of boats thus losing an entire summers worth of boater visits. This would cause major economical problem for the marina and other local businesses around Snug Cove.

The USSC marina has first decided to replace all the finger docks individually, although a slower process, this will minimize disruption. This option allows for all of the construction to be completed on Bowen Island.

The location and shape of Snug Cove limits the type of marina floats that can best be used. The Cove catches substantial bits of flotsam and jetsam and some Union Marina 2larger logs that all float in and out of Snug Cove with the tides.

The marina’s floats are designed to be high, with an open space under to allow any floating debris to move freely through and out of the marina. The floats are at a safer and more convenient height for getting on and off the boats.

They are 28 inches off the water, which is also the average deck height for many boats.

The new floats are constructed with a special aluminum alloy with corrosion resistance to saltwater, good strength and a longer life. A ladder type of frame with full-length whalers provides a stronger and much more ridged dock.

The new docks are 3 feet wide, one foot narrower than the old ones. The bases where they attach at the walkways are also narrower with a softer 30-degree spread and attach with special rubber hinges. The narrow fingers give more berthage space for the later generationof boats and provide an easier docking experience.

The new docks also sport large standard cleats in lieu of the old bulwarks railings. New rub-rails that the boats lay against are made of a soft 2×10 spruce that covers the aluminum framing. The outer corners of each finger have a unique built-in wheel designed to give the boat’s hull protection, thus providing extra protection from the inevitable bump if a vessel gets caught in a crosswind.

Union Marina 3As the old float is disassembled the old treated wood decking is removed to be re-used on a new aluminum frame. The old treated decking is still good and has many more years left. It also helps keep the aesthetic look of a classic wooden marina. By re-using the old treated wood and foam floats there is sustained saving and minimal waste, due to the re-use of materials while avoiding the high disposal costs; particularly being on an island with the related freight and ferry costs.

The old polystyrene foam floats are removed, cleaned and recut to fit the new narrower aluminum frame. There is lots of extra foam left over, as the new aluminum fingers are a lot lighter than the old wood ones. The foam floats are then wrapped with a protective HDPE poly covering.

After all the fingers are complete the next big step will be the replacement of the 8 ft. wide main walkways and hammerheads. They house all the electrical and plumbing that will be replaced and upgraded; however this will be much more complicated. During this time there will be periods of service outages and limited access with boats temporarily moving within the marina, nevertheless no boater’s will have to leave the USSC marina.

At this time the marina is averaging about one finger per week, with over 50 to go. The installations of the new fingers are now complete on “A” float at the west end of the marina. Make a trip to the USSC Marina and see the upgrades for yourself!

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