The Floating Dock
The docking structure consists of a 6’ gangway and a 2,112 square foot fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) floating dock with a 30,000lb boat lift and an independent piling system to be used specifically by the LARKIN research vessel. The new floating dock is to replace a current, aging ramp and floating dock used for launching rowing shells-the ramp and dock are undersized for the riverfront exposure-with a new 4’x24’FRP gangway and 60’x10’FRP floating dock.
The FRP material used in the floating docks, as well as the stainless steel fasteners and piling grout, have a material life that is estimated to be in excess of 70-80 years. FRP has been in constant use in the petroleum industry for decades, both offshore and in refineries. This is a highly advanced green material that is extraordinarily environmentally-friendly. In fact, this docking system could very well serve as a base for extending LEED certification principles to docks where none currently exists.
By utilizing the ultra-strong FRP material in the floating docks, we are able to lower their center of gravity with ballast to where it is close to the dock’s center of buoyancy. This makes the docks very stable and comfortable in all kinds of weather.
The floating docking system will be large enough to accommodate the LARKIN research vessel and five boat slips, which can be utilized by the agencies residing in the MSRI, including the St. Johns River Keeper and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Our high school marine education program, offered in conjunction with the Duval County Public Schools, will also benefit from the new dock, as will the JU varsity sailing and crew teams.
This state-of-the-art floating dock system and the LARKIN floating classroom/research laboratory positioned us as a leading marine research facility. The dock and boat will be used by faculty, researchers, visiting professors, and community stewards under our supervision. Having this waterfront re-development will offer the support for scholarly marine research.
The Floating Classroom / Research Laboratory
The LARKIN is appropriatly used for trawls, benthic (bottom) sampling, water quality analysis and general observation.
The LARKIN is a Trident Catamaran frame, 40 feet in length with a 14 foot beam, of heavy construction. The topside is of custom design and build. The boat is powered by one main outboard motor and has two electric outboard motors for alternate propulsion. What is really unique about the vessel is that it is equipped with twelve roof-mounted solar panels that will charge the battery bank supplying power to the electric outboards and thrusters. These thrusters are installed in the forward section of the hulls to aid in maneuvering in difficult places or assist in docking. The electric motor and thruster package are also very useful when researchers need to move quietly through marshes or have a quiet environment for teaching.
This one-of-a-kind vessel is equipped with the technology and accessories for use by new and seasoned researchers alike. The LARKIN consists of seating for 32 passengers, with under seat storage, a sorting table that can double as a touch tank for species identification with storage beneath, a work table with storage below, and a Honda Genset generator. The forward deck accommodates a 500-pound davit. There is a 60-gallon tank that holds fresh water plus a head with flushing toilet and holding tank. The canopy extends over the deck seating area. The LARKIN’s motor transoms and helm is installed forward of the stern which will allow researchers to conduct work from the “A” frame platform mounted on the rear of the deck. The LARKIN is built to exacting Coast Guard standards and can accommodate up to 49 passengers and a crew of two.