Docks & Harbors Safety Study

TCI Transportation Committee
Docks and Harbors Safety Study
July 30, 2009


The TCI Transportation Committee, a committee formed by the Town in a 2008 Warrant and extended to 2009, initiated a safety study of the docks and harbors of Manset, Great Cranberry Island, and Little Cranberry Island. This report summarizes the site visit of June 17, 2009 and the findings of that site visit.


The purpose of the study is to identify improvements that will make year round early morning (6:30am) and evening (5:30pm) boat landings safer and more accessible. The improvements are aimed at short term measures that could be implemented within a year and long term improvements that would be planned over a five year period.

The study team visited Manset, Great Cranberry, and Little Cranberry docks and harbors and consisted of:

Paul Pottle, ME-DOT, Project Manager-Intermodal Programs
Steve Ruell PE, waterfront engineer, Kleinschmidt USA, Engineers
Captain Gerald Morrison, marine pilot & navigation consultant
Richard Beal, TCI Selectman
Eric Dyer- TCI Facilities Supervisor
Skip Stevens- TCI Transportation Comm. member
Phil Whitney- TCI Transportation & Harbor Committees
Bill Dowling- TCI Transportation Committee (available Manset & GCI only)
Ron Axelrod- TCI Transportation Committee- co-chair
Norman Sanborn- GCI Harbormaster (available Manset and GCI only)
Bruce Fernald- LCI Harbormaster (available LCI only)
Ted Spurling- TCI-Harbor Committee (available GCI & LCI only)

The survey started at 9:00 AM and finished approximately at 1 PM.

The short term improvements are envisioned to be funded and implemented through existing town contingency funds. The long term improvements are ideas requiring further study for feasibility and implementation through partial Maine Department of Transportation and / or Federal funding. The Long term Improvements could form the basis of a long range master plan for TCI docks and harbors which would be administered by the TCI harbor Committee.

Recommendations for Improvements:

General Recommendations:

A. At all locations, Open truss railings along gangways from docks to floats and float transfer bridges do not meet current codes. It is recommended by Paul Pottle that snow fencing or facsimile be installed along these railings. As a minimum the Town should add a mid-height rail and a bottom toe board to make it less easy to fall through the railing spaces.

B. Both GCI and LCI stairs are maintained year round on as need and whose available basis. There should be a “Standard Operation Procedure for Maintenance” of these stairs and the docks instituted by the Town. This should be referred to the TCI Harbor Committee for review and implementation.
C. Lighting of each dock area should be improved. For working areas, task lighting (lighting turned on and off as needed by fishermen and other workers) should be at 25 foot candles (fc) at the dock floor level, and be “task lighting,” Continuous lighting should be at 5 fc. This should be laid out for each dock by a lighting engineer for implementation by TCI. Funds for the design and implementation would be eligible under the existing FTA allocation as access improvements.
D. Kettle weights on float chains would improve stability of floats in heavy seas.
E. Overall safety at night and in adverse weather is a matter of making as many small, common sense changes as possible.


The Manset dock and harbor are used on a seasonal basis from spring through fall. Seasonal ferry service currently runs May 15 to October 15th. When the dock and site were purchased by the Town in 2001 (2002?), it was envisioned that the Town may in the future build a year round dock to serve the islands if the facilities of Northeast Harbor were not available to TCI. The following points were made:

Short-term improvements:

1. Access for elderly was noted and will be improved as part of the FTA access grant. with:
a. New 80ft. gangway to be in place in 2010 (2009?)
b. Replace crushed stone on approach to land end of pier with hard surface meeting ADAAG
c. Improve walkway from Shore Rd to parking lot to meet ADAAG
d. Provide ADA accessible parking spaces meeting slope requirements (Redesignate the spaces to use spaces that are suitable)
e. Make bathroom accessible per ADA requirements
2. Open truss railings along dock and float transfer bridges do not meet current codes. It is recommended that snow fencing or facsimile be installed along these railings. A 4” toe shield should also be added at the deck level.
3. Safety ladders at each float should be installed, for someone falling in and not being able to climb out again.

Long-Term improvements:
1. Guide piles at each float would increase stability of floats if extended seasonal use was desired. This would require soil borings to determine if adequate soil depth was available.
2. The bathymetry is very shallow for a long way out, and the existing floats do not reach deep water for all tide boat access until the very last floats. When the floats are removed for the winter then the facility is not all-tide and thus unusable for scheduled ferry service. Several versions of a year round dock plan were developed by Kleinschmidt engineers in 2006 that located a new vehicular dock approx. 12-14 ft. wide west of the current dock in the direction of the SWH Coast Guard Station. The L-shaped dock is planned to reach deeper water and provide protection for landing to the inside the L on the westerly portion of the dock, with attenuating wave fences. In the summer, there would be floats and gangways similar to the existing situation.

Great Cranberry Island

Short-Term Improvements:
1. Pipe handrails, meeting ADA, are recommended should be added to the inside stair railings at both stairs on the east side of the dock.
2. Railing height should be increased to 42” at the recently completed reconstructed section from the shelter house out to the end of the dock.
3. A 5 mph “No Wake” buoy should be posted due to tight harbor conditions coming into the “throat” between GCI Town dock and parallel dock to the east.
4. Light fixtures are being changed from current multidirectional to downward focused lighting on the dock area. The need for additional lighting should be studied and then installed. Especially at each stair landing.
5. The existing life ring on the north side of the shed should be painted orange. Life ring should be provided on float. At foot of gangway.
6. 80’ gangway: add stops to the end of the I beams that support the upper end of the gangway, to retain the supporting rollers in the event of excessive movement. At the float, the side retaining cleats are wooden and have broken, steel or aluminum angles would be recomended
7. Landing passengers at the floats: The transfer bridge is much narrower than the 80’ gangway, cancelling at least some of the benefit of the gangway. (For example, a disabled person in a golf cart could get down the gangway but not across to the outer float.) Consider wider transfer bridge and/or embarking and disembarking passengers at the inner float. Check the transfer bridge ends and add transition plates for ADA.

Long-Term Improvements:

It was noted that the existing boat launching and cargo ramp to the east of the dock will be rebuilt 30 to 40 ft. to the east in the fall of 2009 allowing better navigation into the ramp.
1. An improved wave fence, based on the latest design standards, should be added to the west side of the dock. The wave fence has been unsatisfactory in the past and was reinforced and filled in along the top during the deck repairs of 2009. There has not been a severe weather test since then to test if the improvements were satisfactory.
2. Reconfiguration of the dock to provide additional protection for ferries when winds are E and NE. Possible configurations to consider:

a. A new wave fence extending from the Northeast corner of the dock at the end, approximately 10 to 15 ft out may cut off sufficient wave action from the northeast to make boat landings easier at the existing stair. There is concern that the “throat” between the TCI pier and eastern pier may be tight for navigation.
b. A dock extension directly north could make landings to the west and east possible depending on prevailing wave action.
c. An additional western stair along the main dock section tighter to land may offer optional landings but would have to be studied for feasibility of depths and other factors. It was determined as part of the last project that this would require dredging to get sufficient depth
d. A dock extension to the northwest with a wave fence on the northeast side, to provide an alternate landing location in the event of NE winds
e. A dock extension in the shape of a T, from the existing north end, with a wave fence across the north side, which would provide a protected berth on both sides for ferry operations.
3. A breakwater could be built on a shoal approximately 750 ft. off the end of the existing dock that would break the northeasterly wave action and protect the dock.
4. Floating breakwater offshore of existing boat mooring field to protect all boats and the town pier.
5. Search for possible alternate dock location to provide alternative landing spot when wind is unfavorable for existing dock

Little Cranberry Island

Short-Term Improvements:

1. Pipe railing meeting ADA requirements should be added to the existing railings at the steps, similar to those noted above for GCI.
2. Lighting should be added to illuminate the steps where they pass under the dock.
3. The chain at the top of the existing ladder at the west end of the dock should be replaced with multiple chains or a fence. The ladder has not been used thanks to the existing steps.
4. Electrical conduit under dock at stairs needs repair.
5. A removable chain from piling to piling could be installed along the stair for added support in navigating the stairs in bad weather.
6. The gap between the floats should be protected against people tripping, by pinning floats together and adding a covering plate between the floats.
7. Several open edges should be gated for enhanced safety during night or inclement weather

Long-Term Improvements:

1. Reconfiguration of the dock to provide additional protection and options for landing. Possibilities to discuss:
a. A 40 ft. dock extension would give LCI deeper water docking as well as offering landings on the south or north side of the dock depending on weather. This extension would involve moving the mooring field 40ft. out from the current location.
b. Construct an L shaped extension with wave fence and float and gangway system to provide a landing berth protected from all directions.
c. Provide 80 ft ADA ramp – this will also require reconfiguration of the mooring field to provide more space for extra length., but brings float out further into deeper water.
d. Reconfigure floats for better berth arrangement
e. Dredge alongside the dock on both faces to provide 6-8 ft depth further toward shore, and make dock more usable. It is already quite long
f. Construct float and gangway system on south side with dredged basin
2. Develop the sheltered area between the Islesford Dock Restaurant pier and the granite pilings as a possible option for winter time float.
3. Improve the existing stone breakwater fragment north of the restaurant. Survey of bottom would be required but if shallow could be constructed using stone rubble mound breakwater. Cost goes up radically with depth.

Notes and Comments

The recommendations for improvements mentioned in this report are the result of the comments made during the site visit. Further suggestions and comments are welcome in order to improve the overall safety and accessibility of our docks and harbors.

Wave Attenuation and Sheltering the Landing Sites:
There was no firm agreement among the specialists about the best practical protection against heavy seas. One view is that wave fences are preferable to fixed structures because of their cost and obtaining permits. The other view is that fixed structures such as rubble breakwaters and fixed granite stone walls filled with stone fill are superior and long lasting but expensive and hard to get permitted.

It was noted that permitting for dredging and the building of breakwaters is the chief difficulty in dredging for harbor improvement, because of the cost and length of time required to comply with all regulations.
The Maine DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers are the primary permitting agencies, for harbor work such as pier construction, dredging and construction of breakwaters. With dredging, the chief difficulty in obtaining permits is disposal of the dredged material. Dredging permits require bottom soil sampling and testing. It was noted that bottom sampling can be done by the firm of, Maine Test Boring. Depending upon the results of the chemical analysis and finding of contaminants, the disposal of the dredged materials can be easy (if it can be used as fill), or expensive, (if classified as hazardous material). Dredging permits require considerable time (years) and need to be initiated as soon as indications are valid for proceeding.

Impact on marine life can also be a consideration for any major harbor alteration, such as widening docks, dredging and breakwaters

Widening existing piers needs to take into consideration the shadow effect, that is, the impact on shore and marine life of extending the area not in direct sunlight. Pile supported piers generally do not have a problem with permitting from this issue but it has been a problem in past.

Passenger Ferries:

Ferries are generally responsible for their own safety measure and operate under US Coast Guard regulations and licenses.

Safety of night operations can be enhanced by measures in several categories, some of which the Town can control and some which are responsibility of the passenger service owners:
• Load control – Passenger numbers and associated freight – carry in daylight hours where possible. Avoid overloads in poor conditions
• Avoid freight handling on roof of boats especially after dark. Roof loading probably may not meet OSHA. Are loads properly secured?
• Is there a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to establish safe weather operation? Develop restrictions/policy to establish a safety window when weather conditions allow safe operations- wind speed and direction, visibility, wave height, temperature. Cancel trips when outside that window. Separate SOP for Summer and winter seasons
• Analyze and learn from any past or future incidents- keep safety records, analyze what went wrong, quickly implement remedial measures in a proactive manner
• Ferries should use improved radar and GPS systems. For example the new Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar units just coming on the market (Navico BR24) have much improved near distance coverage and delineation, enhancing the maneuvering around moored vessels in the harbors. Ferry operators should be required to put radars on ‘standby’ when at or approaching TCI facilities.
• Enhance Coast Guard Aids to Navigation- discuss with Coast Guard the possibility to have lighted buoys instead of the existing unlighted buoys. Buoys should be equipped with radar transponders.
• Provide clear channels. Map and reconfigure existing mooring fields which are congested, particularly at Little Cranberry- A new layout of the mooring field may be justified to provide a clear channel leading in straight lines between lighted navigation aids, to the Town pier
• Enhance lighting of Town piers to aid navigation with distinct light colors or patterns
• Provide a light range (pair of lights at separate heights on line of approach channel, that captain lines up to know he is on the approach line)
• Protect/enhance the night vision of the boat captains - Avoid lights shining in the faces of arriving or departing boat helmsmen. The helmsmen should be in a darkened helm station rather than sharing the lighted passenger cabin. If must share then use red lighting for the cabin
• Winter Operations SOP should recognize that there is a difference between winter and summer operations- the floats and gangways are removed, wind tends to be more severe from the Northwest direction, icing, short days, fewer passengers, and Manset is not operated in winter. Fewer moored boats in the harbors
• Policy on Snow and Ice removal

Landing Stairs:
These stairs are unusual and not seen in other similar facilities in the State (or elsewhere that any of us are aware of). The usual facility is a float and a gangway ramp. The stairways are not particularly safe since they must be open on the water side and require a certain dexterity to step off the stair into a boat or vice versa. There is limited assistance that can be provided by an attendant The Town should consider if the continued use of the landing stairs is in the long term plan. However they have a long history and may be perfectly satisfactory, if there is no record of problems.

• Cranberry floats could be improved with better attachment between float units and providing transition plates
• Floats should be at a uniform freeboard or height
• Floats would be safer if brought together rather than moored separately with gangways between them. This is probably historically done to allow individual float units to move separately in wave action
• Gangway bottom ends do not have proper sideways restraint- timber curbs are fractured and there is no ant-friction device on some of the gangways.
• Float with guide pilings, parallel to the pier would work as a safer landing stage at both GCI & LCI harbors

Railings and Gates:
• There are no codes that we know that apply to this type of structure since it is not a building and the State of Maine does not have a specific code applying to marine structures. OSHA rules do apply to piers. They require fall protection along the sides of piers when not used for cargo and gear handling. Cranberry has long provided a handrail along one side and left the other side of the pier open for the fishermen and load and unload traps. The trap slides and ladders have chains but they are seldom in place or have been removed.
• Cranberry piers are somewhat different than other piers in that they are long and relatively narrow and shared by fishermen and ferry passengers.
• Safety of fall protection can be upgraded. Possible actions:
o Install railings on all openings not regularly used and portions of the pier edge not needed by the fishermen
o Install spring gates at the tops of ladders and across trap slides and other openings. There are steel industrial gates that spring closed but are easy to push open from the ladder side. Relatively inexpensive and used in most factories, but not much on marine facilities.
o Install hinged wooden panels that drop onto the deck along the sides of the piers now open and unprotected. When the fishermen want to use the side of the pier for unloading or loading, they hinge and fold down the panel and pit their traps on top of the panel. As long as the traps are there they will provide the protection same as the railing. When the traps are removed the hinged panel is raised and again protects the edge.


This report identifies short and long term improvements and other items relative to improving the safety and usability of the docks and harbors at TCI owned facilities. The following recommendations for implementation will hopefully form a framework towards their realization and further study to improve the facilities:

Short Term Recommendations: These recommendations should be instituted as soon as possible by TCI funding these safety improvements from current available funds as directed by the TCI Board of Selectmen. The Harbor Committee with the assistance of the Town Facilities Supervisor would be the executing body for this effort. It is hoped that most of these short term recommendations could be instituted before the end of 2009.

Long Term recommendations: These recommendations start to define a long term master plan for improving the TCI docks and harbors. These improvements will require state and federal support unless the town is willing to make major infrastructure investments through property or user taxes. The Harbor Committee and Municipal Advisory Commission with the assistance of the Town Facilities Supervisor should initiate a master plan for improvements with assistance of a consulting engineering firm with Maine DOT experience to create a master plan with priority elements in order to be proactive for Notification of Available Funding (NOFA) when ME DOT has such and other federal funds are available of could be procured.

The docks and harbors are the ‘streets’ of TCI that connect to other communities, and as such must be safe, up to date, and serve a dynamic year round population.