New insights for floating marinas

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Last Friday in bright sunshine and on a windless day in Portland, Victoria, a new chapter was heralded in the area’s long maritime history. It was a day when dreams came true for many people that have envisioned a better way to interact with the sea which is so important to this community. After visiting the new Port of Portland Marina for the official opening by Premier Denis Napthine with lots of visitors, we had time to take a walk over the site with the Marina Manager Gary Bebbington and the Project Managers Graham and Belinda Ainley from Ainley Projects. Ainley has decades of experience in civil, structural and environmental engineering. It was a rewarding time for the team to present this latest addition to the assets of the local community. The best part was the request for a post mortem walk around with just the four of us.

Although we are all happy with the outcome, and the system has already been tested with 40 knot winds, it was the insights gained that have value for those of us doing such projects in the future. Gary is a professional skipper who also has many years marketing experience, so it was very valuable to hear what he pointed out. Firstly the entrance to the whole project had land works “by others” yet the marina contract started from the mooring block of the gangway. In future it would pay to have a design meeting with both parties to ensure an integrated entrance, that has some seating and services to welcome visitors to the marina. We will take this on board.

Another item was the pedestals that were drawn in the tender documents on the fingers and therefore were placed as such. Now they are in close proximity to bowsprits on some vessels and a cause for concern. My personal preference is to always place all services on the main walkways and preserve “dumb” fingers that can easily be moved later utilising the T slot. This is a valuable feature of the Superior marina systems and allows users to modify their layout inexpensively as their market changes. Service free fingers should be adopted by the design community as a priority.

Security gates were another challenge brought on by local conditions. Bass Strait often throws up major winds and Portland is a very windy place. Therefore the sail area on clear Perspex security doors means they will not auto close. The issue was solved with a mesh upper panel however this is another opportunity for a fail proof design. Security on marinas is a tricky concept as it really prevents only those people who are basically honest and do not want to get wet! A determined intruder will obviously come by water regardless. However it is prudent to select carefully locations where minimal barriers can prevent easy dry walking access. This should be done without making larger mesh fences that make the whole site look like a jail. Using the water as a passive barrier is the trick and there is more to be done in this area yet.

This marina also has the largest installation to date as yet of the Superior fender soft touch system. There is well over 100m along the visitor access area where charter boats pick up customers where this soft touch is in operation. This inner radial matrix core will compress to half of its diameter without transmitting load onto the marina. This means a skilled skipper may call in to temporary dock without fenders while doing a passenger pickup. The charter skipper giving a tour to Premier Napthine today actually commented that he had upgraded his vessel to a diesel on the basis of the new marina to be ready for more business. He also has a side entry door fitted to satisfy demand for wheelchair access. This was in response to one determined customer, a lady who in a wheelchair kept saying ” when are you taking me fishing?”. Now with a specially equipped charter boat, soft touch fender and a carefully constructed disability access gangway, this dream is a reality.

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