I am nwe to this site and not sure if this is the right forum, but I am considering building a dock at my cottage and was wondering if anyone has any advice on building docks in ice environments? I live in Newfoundland and the ice buildup can be quite substantial.
I have been thinking about using a fixed setup, with deep piles, but am also open to other suggestions.
The main problems with docks and ice is that the ice moves and the dock doesn't - usually. To remain stationary, the dock must be massive to resist the force of the ice trying to lift it up (tidal or the rising of spring thaw water level) or move it along the shore (current). To resist lifting, you can construct the dock so that it tapers inward slightly and sheath the outside of the dock with vertical timbers so that the rising ice can't get a "grip" on the structure and lift it. To resist the along-shore flow of ice, you haven't much choice other than driving deep pilings into the bottom or ballasting the dock with massive amounts of stone.
A possible solution, if your location allows it, is to build a pier at the water's edge and a floating dock in the water anchored to the bottom, and connect them with an articulating ramp. When I lived on the Gatineau River north of Ottawa, our homeowner's association faced the same problem as you with our common waterfront lot, so we opted for this method. We had to contend with fluctuating water level due to a downstream dam, current from the river, a steep embankment so that the dock could not be easily landed, and a profound freeze-up. I designed the dock system so that as freeze-up started the ramp could be disconnected and pulled ashore, leaving the dock out in the cove, free to move about on its anchors slightly. The floats in the dock were plastic barrels, and there were enough of them that they supported the dock with only 1/3 of their diameter immersed. When the ice formed and began to apply pressure on the barrels, the barrels were forced up on the surface of the ice. The dock then became a lovely place to sit while tying on skates. It has been fifteen years since I moved away, but my former neighbours tell me that it is still working fine, other than having new decking installed.
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