New Swimming Dock

-- By Tove Elfstrom

Sycamore Islander, October 2002

Our new dock awaits the throngs of happy swimmers.
Since at least two years ago I have had the notion to rebuild the swimming dock and motion the Club to change its name. The proper name ought to be Sycamore Island Swim and Canoe Club, because what my family mostly does when we visit is to go swimming. Of these two tasks I decided to take care of the easier one first: to rebuild the dock.

My chief concern was all the children that cheerfully ran down the gangplank and jumped in, without much thought to slippery or splintery surfaces. Down South, where I come from, we use gray decking paint mixed with a little sand so that is what you first will notice as you step on board, so to speak. Underneath that thin layer, however, are the things that I hope will make it worth the effort (and expense) that the Club, Tryon Wells, and I put in. He showed me a year ago a marine equipment catalogue and in it I found float blocks that were designed to last at least 10 years. Even if they are punctured they will not take in water because they are filled with closed-cell foam. Each block carries 550 pounds and we put one in each corner. The dock itself weighs about 600 pounds, so its carrying capacity is a little more than 1500 pounds. The other benefit of these blocks is that they do not wear off in small grains of orange or white that then sullies the shores of the river.

The author, fitting the frame to the floats.
The wood is all treated lumber, including the 3/4-inch top plywood panels. We fastened it all together with 3–inch stainless steel screws so that it would not rust or work itself apart. The nails of the old dock had to be beaten down every so often to prevent them from performing involuntary surgery on unsuspecting passing feet. I hope these screws stay put. In addition to that, we also added 5-inch x 1/4-inch decking screws in the corners just as extra reinforcement where the most stress is. I hope we can rebuild the gangplank as well, using the same sand-paint mixture for more surface grip.

Tryon and Tove, assembling the structure.
This was my first official act as the Island's swimming supervisor, but a huge amount of credit should go to Tryon Wells who was ready, at the drop of a hat, to help out. It was he and Joe Hage who ultimately launched it one late afternoon when I had to run to another appointment. Drew Walsh, too, helped out by turning the plywood sheets to dry them out before we could paint them. David Winer brought wheels that we will fit onto these floats to ease them up out of the water. I have a design for this in mind—that I hope will work.