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Boat Docks Ice Damage

Prevent ice damage to boat docks
  [vote for,


One of the problems in owning a boat dock in the Chesapeake Bay area is that, in the winter, the water freezes. The ice grips the pilings of your dock, then, when the tide rises, the ice floats up and pulls the pilings up out of the mud. Every spring, you have to hire an expensive pile-driver to pound them back in again. Some people put electric-powered bubblers under their docks, which run all winter, which keeps the ice from forming around their docks. This is also expensive and a waste of energy. Whoever invents a solution for this problem will become a millionaire in five years.

I’ve spent years mulling this one over. The only solution I ever thought of is to use a sheet-metal form to mold a concrete cone around each dock piling. The small end of the cone would point upwards, and the height of the cone would equal the local tide range. In winter, the cone shape would break the ice as the tide goes down. When the tide goes up, the decreasing circumference of the cone would cause the ice to lose its grip. Hopefully.

An entrepreneur could go into business by making a set of metal forms, then going around in a boat molding cones on his customers’ pilings with underwater-setting concrete. The concrete formula would have to allow for the saltiness of the water in various places. Dock-owners on Chesapeake Bay are rich, and they would be standing in line to pay for this service, once they were convinced it works. Sales-resistance would come from people not wanting to bang their boats on any concrete thing sticking out from their pilings underwater. The entrepreneur would have to solve this problem somehow.

Okay, there it is. Figure out the details, go into business, get rich. You can buy me a home theater outfit as a reward for giving you this idea.

Mogo, Aug 22 2003

Vanilla Ice http://www.vanillaice.com/
Ice Ice Baby [DeathNinja, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Boat Crane http://europeforvis...ded_under_crane.jpg
Let it all hang out, baby. [jurist, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       Hardpacked salt sheaths for the pilings. Salt sheaths are about a foot thick and shaped like a C. They are packed solid, like the cow lick salt blocks. They are clipped around each piling at the first sign of ice. They dissolve very slowly, over the winter, but the advantage of ice is that there is little water motion and thus no waves, which would accelerate dissolution in the spring.   

       These salt sheaths increase salinity right around the piling, with the result that ice cannot form. The pilings keep a half inch or so of clear, very salty water around them.
bungston, Aug 22 2003

       Piling lube. Each piling has a metal sheath which fits around it, extending down 2 feet (or however deep ice usually forms). The shealth is like a can, widely open at the bottom, and with a hole cut in the top just large enough to fit the piling. Around the hole the piling goes thru there is a hydrophilic rope. The sheath is actually floating in the water, as it is full of oil.   

       Ice forms up to the sheath, but the oil does not freeze. When the tide comes it, the sheath is lifted along with the ice. The sheath scoots along up the piling, then settles back down when the tide goes out.
bungston, Aug 22 2003

       I was once told about an incident where a very thin sheet of ice in a moorage area on Lake Washington (here in Seattle) sliced most of the bottom of the hull off of a large pleasure-craft when the operator failed to break up the ice behind the boat before moving.  The real tragedy is that other boat owners in the marina at the time were yelling at the two men aboard, telling them to break up the ice.  It was noted that the boat sank nearly instantly.
bristolz, Aug 22 2003

       It probably ceased to be a pleasure craft before it actually sank.
bungston, Aug 22 2003

       Maybe just a cone shaped hard plastic in two halves that can be retro-fitted on a piling. No scratches on the hull. By the way, thin ice will cut through a boat hull and destroy it but not so dramatically. Thick ice isn't a problem.
hafwit, Aug 23 2003

       Maglev pilings.
waugsqueke, Aug 23 2003

       Fill bladders with Vodka. Do the same for the boat.
thumbwax, Aug 23 2003

       Ummm, Chesapeake Bay doesn’t freeze.
Shz, Aug 23 2003

       The whole bay doesn't, but localized areas near the shore do. My mom has this same problem with her dock in New Jersey: the bay her house faces doesn't freeze over, but you get significant amounts of ice in and around the dock and shore.
krelnik, Aug 24 2003

       How about a Teflon-coated, strap-on casing for each piling?
welfarebum, Aug 25 2003

       low grade radioactives in the pilings. the radioactive emissions will convert to heat and keep ice from building up. use mainly alpha emitters for obvious reasons.
johnmeacham, Aug 25 2003

       A motor attatched to the dock firmly with an off center weight? The vibrations could stop the ice from ever getting it's grip.
boffin, Aug 27 2003

       Or, eliminate the pilings altogether and support the boats between uses from "boat cranes" mounted on the permanent sea wall. [Link] Expensive, perhaps, but effective in minimizing dock damage (since there isn't one), reduces maintenance costs in caring for the boat hull, and comes with a full set of bragging rights.
jurist, Aug 27 2003

       Thanks for the good ideas, half-bakers. I thought Bungston's salt-block idea was better than my own. If I were back in Annapolis, I would go buy a couple of cow salt blocks and try it. No kidding, half-bakers, whoever solves this one will be WEALTHY in no time.
Mogo, Oct 03 2003


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