Posted on October 17, 2022
A section of the Peruvian dock at the Town of Palm Beach Marina has been repaired after it broke off last month during the passage of Hurricane Ian, but questions remain as to what caused it to happen.
The 30-foot ”finger pier,” which holds two slips, was reattached to the main dock Oct. 7 by crews from Bellingham Marine, the dock manufacturer.
It was inspected this week and deemed safe to return to service, Assistant Town Manager Carolyn Stone said Friday.
The remainder of the 28-slip Peruvian dock as well as the marina’s three other docks were unaffected by Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Florida’s southwest coast around 3 p.m. Sept. 28 as a powerful Category 4 storm and brought tropical storm-force winds to Palm Beach County.
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The Peruvian finger pier broke off from the main dock about seven hours later, Dock Master Mike Horn told the Daily News, as storm-force winds lashed the county.
“It just separated at the joint where it connects,” Stone said. “The main dock itself was just fine.”
The marina’s design engineer, who inspected the dock immediately after the damage and after it was repaired, is working to determine what caused the section to detach, Stone said, though marina administrators have some ideas.
The dock’s design and its location could be the culprit, Stone said, as continuous wave action against the portion of dock that broke off might have caused the waler system to give way.
A waler is a horizontal structural beam mounted to the side of a dock section. It spans multiple concrete floats, fastening them together.
“There are so many things to take into account,” Stone said. “If the waves land further down the dock, maybe it doesn’t happen, because the waves have more places to go as you’re closer to the seawall. The waves kind of stop right there. They’ll look at all that. We have video of the waves that day, because it was very close to the entrance of the dock.”
The engineer will write a report that will detail his findings, Stone said. That report could take about two to three weeks to complete.
All four of the town’s docks are floating docks, and they are not removed in advance of a storm, Horn told the Daily News.
Horn said he was surprised that tropical storm-force winds could damage the dock, as the marina was built to withstand a Category 1 hurricane. The marina was constructed to the best recommended industry standards, he added.
The $38 million town marina opened last November after a 17-month renovation. Work included the expansion of 84 slips to allow larger boats, the replacement of stationary docks with floating docks, a new security system, and upgraded technology that includes high-speed Wi-Fi and enhanced shore electrical power.
The project also included the addition of a fourth dock at the north end of the marina, which was built in the 1940s and most recently renovated in 1998.
The marina welcomes vessels from 60 feet to 294 feet.