23 Sep

Many states, cities, and other government and nonprofit entities, are promoting safe water accessibility products for adaptive athletes and individuals living with a handicap. These include a range of products, like adaptive and accessible kayak launches, ADA fishing piers and floating docks, aluminum floating rowing docks, and more. As this new industry grows in popularity, there is much uncertainty about how to design and engineer products that truly accommodate all ages and abilities. BoardSafe has become the trusted expert to engineer, design, and manufacture accessibility products for those who are serious about ADA access for their community.  

We often get asked, What length gangway do I need for my dock project?” There are many site conditions that need to be considered before this question can be answered. 

One of the most important considerations is the vertical dimension from the top of the floating dock to the connection point on land. The connection point may be a concrete foundation or fixed wood pier. It is important that this dimension be determined when the water is deemed at its lowest recorded daily average. This water elevation is referred to as “mean low water” (MLW). 

The slope requirement for the gangway is also an important consideration. You will need to find out what regulations you are required to follow, such as those regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your project is for commercial or public use, this is something that needs to be considered. If so, you will most likely need a gangway that provides either a 1/12 (8.3%) or 1/20 (5.0%) slope. Again, this needs to be clarified by your local permitting authority. If your project is a residential application, there may be no slope requirements you need to follow. We have, however, determined that a slope of 2.75/12, or 22.9%, is the maximum slope that is comfortable to walk up or down. 

Another consideration is water depth. We manufacture our gangways with flotation added to the bottom of the gangway. The reason we do this is to ensure the weight of the gangway does not put an additional point load on the dock. Quite simply, we don’t want to sink the dock because of the gangway’s weight. As a rule of thumb, we require a minimum water depth of 18 inches at the end of the gangway. This dimension may be larger for longer, more heavy gangways. 

To help you determine what length gangway you will need, we’ve developed a drawing showing key dimensions and definitions. Gangway length will be based on your specific site dimensions and dock freeboard (the dimension from the top of the water to the top of the dock — please reference sketch below).

Gangway Reference Sketch

It is important to understand that BoardSafe Docks manufactures its gangways to be attached to our floating docks, not to sit on top of them. 

For assistance in designing, engineering, and ordering an aluminum gangway for your project, please complete the contact form or call us at 610-899-0286.