The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

#15 - Smart Marinas

Modular Floating Docks: A Piece of Cake


Modular floating docks made simple (Courtesy of Dock Blocks)

From helicopter landing pads to a floating film set, customers are finding new ways to use dock modules, as modern designs and connection systems for the individual units provide increasing flexibility. NauticExpo e-magazine spoke with industry expert John Krogman to find out more.


Marketing & international sales director of US-based manufacturer Connect-A-Dock, Krogman’s most unusual project was a floating set for the 2016 Clint Eastwood film Sully: Miracle on the Hudson. The film tells the story of US Airways pilot Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who safely landed his disabled airliner on the Hudson River in 2009 with no fatalities.

Innovation in the technology used to produce, connect and strengthen modules allows for bigger sizes—those used for the film set measured four by eight feet (1.2 x 2.4 m). It also makes possible the addition of an increasing array of attachments and accessories. Across the industry, better puncture-resistance, non-slip surfaces and UV protection are now virtually standard, Krogman explained.


Set for the film "Sully Miracle on the Hudson" (Courtesy of Connect-A-Dock)

Set for the film “Sully: Miracle on the Hudson” (Courtesy of Connect-A-Dock)

“We have also developed a versatile system that allows our rotationally-molded polyethylene modules to be configured end-to-end or side-to-side in many different configurations,” he said. “And it takes just five minutes to attach a module to its neighbor.”

Dock’s Stability

Dock modules today have a huge variety of uses—floating platforms for dredging, temporary venues for water sports events and helicopter landing pads, in addition to marina construction. Canada-based CanDock has taken the latter to a new level, with its patented service channel technology that allows customers to insert electric cables and pipes through the modules.

Modular docks can also be used as helicopter landing pads (Courtesy of)

Modular docks can also be used as helicopter landing pads (Courtesy of Matrax)

Mooring vessels remains the most common use for modular docks. But are there limitations to securing larger craft? “It depends on the pull-out strength of your cleats and of the dock sections themselves,” Krogman said. “It also depends on anchoring methods, but we have 40- to 60-ft [12-18 m] vessels moored to our system.”

“Rowing clubs appreciate the lower freeboard and the dock’s stability.”

Larger craft require docks with a freeboard of 17 inches (43.2 cm). For smaller craft, there are modules with eight inches (20.3 cm) of freeboard.

“Rowing clubs and coaches appreciate the lower freeboard and the dock’s stability, which creates a safe platform for entering and exiting their shells,” Krogman noted. Safety is also a feature of the newly developed personal kayak launches that can be attached to docks, along with drive-on modular units for jet skis and other personal watercraft.


Modular dock for kayaks (Courtesy of At Ease Dock & Lift)

Modular dock for kayaks (Courtesy of At Ease Dock & Lift)

Recycled Materials

There is an industry trend toward units that are not just recyclable, but made from recycled materials, Krogman added. “Most docks are made from virgin polyethylene, but there are materials coming out that will help repel various forms of pests that can eat through plastic docks. Not much readily available yet, but hopefully coming soon.”

Global dock module player T Dock International has serious environment-friendly credentials: “Our cubes are made from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable,” a spokesman stated. The company’s Tide Manager system allows docks to float up and down with changing water level. It also introduced an open sea version. The spokesman stated: “We have tested in waves as high as three meters and the success rate has been very good.”

Floating bridge (Courtesy of TDock)

Read more about Floating docks on NauticExpo website. 

About the Author

Formerly editor-in-chief of IHS Maritime, Tony Slinn is an independent maritime journalist.

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