As a dock owner or someone doing business on the waterfront, you want to create a well-equipped and safe environment for all activities around your dock, including how people and goods move between the shore and various boats. Dock gangways provide secure pathways that connect docks or piers to vessels. They provide a stable path for passengers to embark and disembark, as well as for loading and unloading cargo.

Dock gangways are similar to ramps with minor differences. They can be used separately or together, depending on the conditions of the water and shoreline. Let’s explore how they work.

How Dock Gangways and Dock Ramps Work

Gangways are like bridges that stretch over longer distances without coming in contact with water. They’re elevated structures connecting a fixed point on land, such as the shore or a dock, to a floating structure, like a floating dock or boat. Dock gangways are usually flexible and lightweight so they can move with changing water levels. Since they’re designed for distance, gangways may feature handrails for added user safety.

Ramps are sloping structures that join two points with different heights. You’ll often find them on hillsides or embankments with a gradual slope. Because they’re typically wider than gangways, dock ramps are ideal for moving large items in and out of the water.

Popular Types of Dock Gangways

Popular Types of Dock Gangways

One of the factors to consider is the durability and life span of the structure’s materials. Dock gangways are often made out of the following:

  • Wood: As the traditional choice, wood dock gangways look aesthetically pleasing. Compared to other materials, however, wood requires a lot of maintenance and is prone to cracks and splintering.
  • Aluminum: This is a popular option because aluminum gangways are lightweight, strong and corrosion-resistant, which means they require little maintenance. Their durability and sturdiness make them suitable for commercial applications.
  • Polyethylene: As a type of plastic, polyethylene dock gangways are versatile and a more cost-effective option that’s equally as durable as aluminum.

When to Use Floating Dock Gangways and Ramps

While gangways are ideal for various circumstances, other instances may call for ramps. Consider how gangways are essential in the following situations:

  • Installing a floating dock can be risky: Floating docks are advantageous in many settings, though depending on the body of water, the water level may be unpredictable or too low to install a floating dock safely. In these situations, you can install the floating dock in a more suitable location and connect it to the shore via a gangway.
  • You need to bridge a gap: Sometimes, you may need to access your dock from a specific area of your property and need something to bridge the gap. For example, if the land leading up to your shoreline is swampy and difficult to walk through, a gangway can bridge that gap and make the dock easier to access.
  • You want an accessible dock: Boating is an enjoyable pastime, though getting in and out of a boat on a standard dock can be challenging for some users. Gangways for docks create an accessible connector between land or a ramp to make boating more pleasurable for all users.

Accessible Connectors

Although ramps are similar to gangways, ramps are a better option if you have the following needs:

  • Handling heavy cargo: If your main purpose is to load and unload heavy goods onto a boat, a dock ramp will be a more convenient and efficient way to transport these items.
  • You have space constraints: Ramps are designed for shorter distances and are more compact and space-efficient. This is ideal if you only need to link a few feet between the shore and a dock.
  • You’re dealing with shallow water: If the dock is located in stable, shallow water near the shoreline, a dock ramp will work best as it won’t require that many additional support structures.

Safety Tips for Working With Floating Gangways and Ramps

Whether you own a residential or commercial dock, safety should be a top priority for you and your guests. Keep these safety tips in mind when using your gangway:

  • Maintain your floating dock ramp and gangway: Just as you’d do with your dock, your gangway or ramp needs to be maintained. Clean and regularly inspect them for damage, especially between seasons. If your dock is located where you’ll experience freezing temperatures, be sure to winterize your gangway or ramp and store it in a dry location.
  • Look for safety features: Pay attention to the materials your gangway or ramp is made of. Look for materials that will add safety features like slip-proof, heat-resistant and splinter-free surfaces. Safety features like these ensure all users stay safe and can even reduce the frequency of maintenance needed. For extra stability and security, install secure railing systems to help people move confidently along the gangway or ramp.
  • Choose a compatible gangway or ramp: Compatibility is crucial to ensure the gangway fits properly with your current dock. Gangways and ramps are available in various sizes to provide the best fit for numerous situations. Both should match the width of your dock to prevent someone from stepping off the edge accidentally.

Customize Your Floating Dock Configuration With EZ Dock

EZ Dock configurations

It’s important to choose the right dock gangway for safe and efficient operations between the shoreline and your vessel. EZ Dock can help you reach your floating docks with gangways designed to work together with all EZ Dock systems. Our products are versatile, environmentally friendly and durable. If you’re looking for floating gangways that are barefoot-friendly and easy to configure to improve accessibility to your dock, contact your nearest EZ Dock rep today.

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