In the aftermath of Irma we should take pride in how strong our community is and how well everyone has come together in order to pick up the pieces. At the time I’m writing this article it has been 5 weeks since the storms and the large debris collection trucks are still diligently out collecting, as are the barges on our beloved St Johns River. We at DS Diving, just last week, finished floating and removing Hazardous Vessels that were sunken and sitting on the bottom as a result of the violent wind, waves, and extremely high water caused by Irma. All of these efforts are an important part of restoring daily life and protecting our environment.
We are now starting to receive the calls from Dock Owners who were left stunned by the sight of their missing docks or docks that resemble the decking of an old wooden roller coaster. None of us can stop a hurricane from coming but there are certain steps that can be taken to add extra protection to your expensive dock pilings to help ensure they are still standing after disaster strikes. One such method is concrete encasement which prevents boorers from eating the wood and adds substantial weight to the piling making it much more difficult for high water to cause your pilings to pull up.
You may or may not realize that all of the wood products that make up your dock, float including the pilings. Floating and towing is how we transport them to jobsites, then they are stood up on end and driven in where all of the weight that is out of the water is pushing down. When the water rises to the point that it is over your caps, stringers, and deck-boards there is a tremendous amount of upward force trying to unseat your pilings. This often results in uneven pilings and walkways. This is where you can breathe a small sigh of relief if your dock looks like this.
Your pilings were not level prior to installing therefore in most instances your dock pilings can be re-seated and leveled for a fraction of the cost of replacement. Additionally, these pilings can be made stronger and heavier than there would be replacements.
If you lost your whole dock and have no alternative than replacement I recommend biting the bullet and spending a little extra on taller pilings and extending your dock height a few feet higher than its original footprint. Doing this will decrease the likelihood of water rising above your dock and pulling it out. If water does rise significantly you may lose your small ramp leading up to the walkway but your main structure should still be there.
Also, if you know a storm is coming and you have a trailer for your boat please take it off your lift and put it on the trailer. We spent 3 weeks recovering sunken boats that were putting gas, oil and dangerous derbies into our waterway; although we get paid to do this I would prefer your boat be safe and our river be clean than making a few bucks. Regarding boats on lifts, if you have no dock left and have a boat stuck on a lift you can’t get to, we can help you.