Albion Field Station

Albion Dock Project

Construction of the boat docking facility at Albion Field Station has begun. We have been dreaming about the reality of this facility for the past 7-8 years when the California Coastal Commission informed us that we needed to make some serious changes in our boat docking system.

About six years ago we applied to the California Coastal Commission and seven other governmental agencies for permission to construct a boat dock. Five years of working with the agencies produced the necessary permits. It has taken another two years to raise the approximately $250,000 it is taking to pay for this dock.

But now with all this behind us and just enough money in cash and pledges in hand, we are in the construction phase of the dock. The erection of such a structure began on July 9 with the first phase of the project.

First Phase

It was not possible to build the boat dock in the same place.  Because it is going near the lagoon and because we must cross a creek to get there, we needed a bridge across the creek that we could easily traverse both to build the boat dock and to get to it after it is completed.

The photos in the gallery will show the major steps in the construction of the bridge. Bill and Devin Daniel are father and son and are the contractors for this project. 

Three H-piles were driven on each side of the creek. Then a steel cap was welded to those H-piles. The decking for the bridge was an old railroad flat car that was cut in half. The two halves were placed on the piles and caps and welded into place. We know the bridge is strong because the big crane that will put the pilings in the river rolled across it (136,000 lbs. = 68 tons). I don’t think we could get that many people on that bridge!


Second Phase

With the bridge complete and the big crane on the far side of the creek, the actual dock construction began on Friday, July 5.

Continue to check on this web site for more photos and discussion of how the boat dock will be constructed.

Move in the Crane

To drive the piles we only had one option, that of using a crane from on land. The mouth of the river and the river itself are too shallow to get a barge with pile-driving gear to the construction site on the river.

The crane was one of the contractor’s smaller cranes because it would fit our narrow road. It is 12 feet wide and weighs 136,000 pounds. The largest barrier was the automobiles parked along Albion Street at the top of the hill. People responded 100% to our request to move their cars so that we could get the crane in. The photos tell the story.

Driving the First Pile

The goal was to get piles at each end of the dock, however the wind and the current in the river makes it near impossible to accurately spot each pile. So, we opted for driving the first pile at the east end of the dock first. The pile went in easy but it was a race against time to get it done before the tide got too high.

Each pile was marked in one foot intervals so that we could determine our "penetration" when the pile met "refusal." This turned out to be about 20 feet from the water line to the tip of the pile.


Assembling the Dock

All nine floating dock sections were obtained from Surplus and then rehabilitated. Keith Glantz, a master craftsman, is responsible for the quality work manifest in the dock sections.

Keith and two helpers from Plant Services came over for the day to make sure the floating dock sections were properly assembled. Three of the sections were bolted together where the gangway-ramp "T's" into the floating docks. Some of the bolting took place on land, but the final bolting took place in the water. The two guys who accompanied Keith got into the cold Mendocino water to bolt those rafts together.

Once we had assembled all the dock sections the entire 160 feet of floating dock was maneuvered into its "final resting place," attached to the "first pile." The other end we tied to a post in the river and held it out in the river via an anchor. We left it that way until the next morning.


Piles for Floating Dock

The pile at the west end of the dock was driven the next morning and the dock was attached to the east pile and the west pile, temporarily, by a rope. This allowed us to place the other eight piles at the exactly the right spot along the floating dock. The first of these piles had to be driven in the river using a kayak to spot the pile. From this point on, all the piles could be spotted from the platform of the floating dock. The next day or two were used in driving the remainder of the 10 piles.

After all the piles were driven in they were cut off at 12 feet elevation (12 feet above mean sea level).


Batter Piles for Strength

All the piles in the river and for the gangway, up the bank of the river, were driven with a vibratory hammer. At low tide they had gone down to about the 20 foot mark on the pile. We calculated that about 8 feet of that distance was in the water and soft mud, giving us only about 10-12 feet in solid earth. We felt more lateral strength was needed particularly in the event of a tsunami coming up the river, or a big flood carrying debris and logs coming down the river. So, we added a “batter pile,” a pile driven at an angle. The two piles are then welded together with a 3/8th inch plate on either side. The batter pile is evident in the photographs.


Gangway Piles

Next, the gangway piles were driven in pairs about every 20 feet and about 8 feet apart. This took two days to complete.

The gangway runs perpendicular to the floating dock up onto the shore for 125 feet, long enough that we can cross the mud flat when the tide is out and walk over the water when the tide is in.



The caissons are specially constructed rebar cages. They were built in such a way that there is an outer spiraled rebar with several vertical pieces attached to the spiral. After being fabricated the caissons were hot-dipped galvanized to prevent rust. Even though the rebar is inside the concrete, the concrete is still porous enough to allow the saltwater to rust the rebar. By galvanizing the rebar we dramatically increase its life in the concrete and the strength of the piling.

The caissons are 25 feet long and were dropped into each piling. The cone at the bottom of each piling, which prevented dirt from entering the piling when it was driven, centers the caisson at the bottom. All we have to do is to center it at the top as we pour the concrete into the piling.

Channels for the Gangway

The next step was to install the channels that would support the gangway. A channel is a cross piece of steel that is bolted to each of a pair of piles. The steel gangway sits on top of the channel. On those pilings that were taller (the four pair closest to the floating dock), where it is farther down to the ground, a channel brace and another cross piece were bolted to the steel piling. This added considerable strength to the pilings should something hit them like a log, debris or a tsunami.


Placing of Gangway Sections

The gangway was given to us pre-manufactured saving a considerable amount of money in the construction of the boat dock. However, gifts like this can come with some problems. In this case we had to do some cutting and welding to make them fit. There are five sections of various lengths with the sixth section being the ramp that goes up and down as the tide comes in and goes out. The ramp was fabricated in the shop of the contractor.

Each section was lifted into place with the crane. The sections were then welded together, end to end, and welded to the channels to hold them in place.

Some of these sections were lifted into place when the tide was in, making the task more challenging.


Installing the Hoops that Hold the Floating Dock to the Pilings

Each floating dock section is connected to a piling. The connection must allow the floating dock to go up and down as the tide comes in and goes out. We used a hoop to accomplish this task.

The hoops were fabricated in the shop of the contractor. Each one consists of a round portion that surrounds the piling and a flat portion that connects to the floating dock.  The piling pipes have a diameter of 12 inches so the hoop was made with a 16 inch diameter allowing it to easily slide up and down the piling as the tide came in and went out. Kieth Glantz and his helper from the Plant Services Department of the college installed all the hoops in one day.

Floating Dock and Gangway in Place

A dream come true, the entire floating dock and gangway are in place and functioning as planned. It is now possible to walk from land to a floating boat moored on the dock, via the gangway. With our boats moored in deep water it is now possible to use them at any time regardless of the tide level in the river.


Continue to check on this web site for more photos and discussion of how the boat dock will be constructed.