Marina Ventures, Ltd.
Developers, Designers and Builders
of the World's Finest Marinas and Wave Attenuators


The heart of the Marina Ventures system and the reason for its amazing durability is the glue-laminated beam and our method of connection. The docks are connected and fastened using either 1" or 5/8" through bolts that bolt through the 5"deck and through the structural crossties, creating a monolithic system without the use of hinges, typically the weakest link in a floating dock system.

The flotation units are polyethylene pontoons filled with solid blocks of expanded polystyrene foam. The pontoons are then lag bolted to the under side of the deck.


Working closely with the owner, critical environmental information such as the site description, bottom soil conditions, water depth of the proposed marina basin, typical wind and wave action, and hundred-year storm records, is collected. This data, in addition to market opportunities and land-use, are evaluated to determine the scope and feasibility of the marina plan.

A preliminary plan of the proposed marina showing the recommended configuration and size and mix of slips is then prepared. Based on this preliminary layout, the land/water interface can be strengthened and technical and economic feasibility studies performed.

After consultation with the owner and interested governmental planners, a marina design plan is prepared. This plan provides the detail required to apply for the governmental permits and prepare the initial financial package.

Following owner approval of the marina design and execution of contract, engineering structural calculations are performed and shop drawings completed. Materials and component take-offs are then made and purchase orders prepared - all components are manufactured by suppliers and vendors using Marina Ventures-owned dies, molds and exclusive processes. In addition to stringent specifications in the choice and selection of a wood species, Marina Ventures employs independent inspectors to oversee the timber selection, lamination and finishing processes to ensure that our specifications have been met.

Once all permits have been obtained, purchase orders for all materials are finalized and shipping schedules to the marina site are coordinated.

Marina Ventures provides on-site engineering, consulting and assembly supervision. This support ensures that all preassembly, assembly and anchoring is performed in accordance with Marina Ventures' design and material specifications. Preventive maintenance instruction is also provided during this phase.


For more than two decades, the laminated-wood floating pier system has provided a unique combination of structural strength, beauty and durability in marinas around the world.

The survivability of the system under extreme environmental conditions is second to none. Approximately 600 vessels were moored at our South Shore Harbor Marina project (located south of Houston) when hurricane Alicia struck in 1983. The laminated-wood floating system survived 125-mph winds and a ten-foot storm surge with no damage or loss of craft.

During hurricane Gloria's rampage along the eastern seaboard in 1985, five of our floating marinas were put to the test. With over 100-mph winds and six-foot seas, Boston Harbor's Shipyard Quarters Marina, with over 300 vessels moored in place, was the hardest hit of the five marinas exposed to the storm. Despite this, only a single finger pier in the marina sustained damage when a mooring line failed, allowing a vessel to over-top the finger pier. Again, no vessels were lost and the remaining marinas sustained no damage.

Despite our excellent track record of survivability, and in recognition of boater safety and comfort, Marina Ventures does not advocate developing marinas in areas exposed to extreme adverse environmental conditions.

Nevertheless, we do find it interesting that a considerable sum of money is spent annually on the construction of substantial breakwaters or wave attenuators specifically designed to protect floating pier systems which are inferior in design to the laminated-plank floating system. Some manufacturers, such as those building floating concrete piers, will not warrant their product in a wave environment greater than 12 inches. Many others will not warrant their systems when they are subjected to waves over 18 inches.

The Marina Ventures laminated-plank (MVL-Glue lam) system, however, is specifically designed to provide a stable and safe environment for properly moored vessels in hurricane-force storms.

Our philosophy is to design for the 100-year storm.

Designing a system to survive means proper attention to the structural integrity of the system and careful planning of the marina layout. Single-loaded slips (one boat between two fingers) are a key factor in reducing vessel damage and increasing vessel survivability. Recognizing this, insurance underwriters have often extended boats discounts of up to 15-percent if their boat is moored in a single-loaded glue-laminated wood floating pier system. This single-loaded, laminated-wood floating pier system was designed, and has survived,80+ MPH winds and six-foot seas without damage.

In addition to individual boat owners, marina operators also benefit from the proven survivability of the MVL-Glue lam system. Insurance rates have been slashed by as much as 60 percent of the rates charged to marinas using other systems.

These reduced rates are also in recognition of the flame-retardant characteristics of a laminated-wood pier. Since the deck is solid, air cannot circulate from under the pier, as would occur in a standard 2 x 6 decking system. If a fuel spill is ignited, it will burn only until the fuel is exhausted. Without out oxygen, the deck will not support combustion. Any surface charring can be sanded off and re-sealed to restore the pier to its prior condition.


The MVL-Glue lam design is the present state-of-the-art in laminated-beam floating marina systems. Comparing this system with earlier systems provides a perspective of the progress that has taken place since the earlier laminated-beam systems were first developed.

Laminated-beam floating docks have been in existence in one form or another for over 60 years. The basic concept of the design is to use the laminated beam as both the primary structural element and as the deck of the system. This creates a system that is extremely rigid in the horizontal plane, with tremendous strength and resistance to lateral vessel impact and wave and wind loads. At the same time, the laminated-wood beams will flex in the vertical dimension with the wave action of the water. This allows the piers to ride over large waves without experiencing material fatigue or damage resulting from concentrated stress. The system, therefore, can be safely anchored with a minimum number of piles to withstand hurricane wind and wave forces without failure.


An important aspect of the utilization of laminated beams is the correct design of all timber and bolt connections. In each project, computer-aided structural analysis is performed for every aspect of the marina design to determine proper bolt patterns and structural connections that will achieve maximum product strength and life expectancy.

In older recreational marina designs, laminated beams with a thickness of three inches were generally used. There were complaints about these three-inch systems that they lacked rotational stability that caused boaters to feel uncomfortable when walking on or standing near the end of the finger. More recently, five-inch installations have been standard. We now recommend the three-inch beams be used only for finger piers less than 30 feet in length. For finger piers 30 feet and above, a five-inch system is recommended. Since the torsional resistance of the typical beam increases with the cube of the beams thickness, going from three-inch to five-inch represents in increase in torsional resistance by a factor of almost 5 to 1. This means that a five-inch beam has nearly five times the torsional stability of a three-inch beam. This is why a five-inch pier system provides a very stable and comfortable walking surface, even at the end of a 100-foot finger pier.


After much experimentation, we have found the most effective flotation unit to be a completely enclosed, rotationally molded polyethylene pontoon with an average design wall thickness of 0.15 inches, filled with one pound density expanded polystyrene. The pontoons are attached to the bottom of the laminated beams using lag bolts.

The flotation product has been improved to provide more flexibility in the design for both live and dead loads. Present design provides for a standard live load of 20 pounds per square foot with a submergence not to exceed ten inches. If circumstances warrant, a live load capacity of 50 pounds per square foot with a 12 inch submergence can be achieved. The pontoons are sized to extend across the full width of the finger pier to provide increased rotational stability.


Essentially every component of the Marina Ventures system reflects a new design innovation or improvement from earlier installations. These innovations include:


Our dock fender currently utilizes heavier vinyl, infused with ultra-violet and mold inhibitors. This newly designed fender is mounted on the side of the beam, rather than lapping over the top edge, allowing the deck to drain freely and eliminate puddling and entrapment of dirt. The fender is attached to the beam using stainless steel staples, which provide greater holding power than the aluminum nails previously used.


Marina Ventures uses a custom-designed cleat that is made of an aluminum-magnesium alloy (Al-mag). It is designed with a wide base to prevent over-turning under severe loads. Each cleat is attached to the plank using 5/8 inch diameter 6061T6 aluminum through bolts and aluminum-magnesium backing plates

New utility covers are fabricated utilizing South American hardwoods and are supported by an anodized aluminum Z-channel on either side. The Z-channels are attached to the hardwood with stainless steel screws. The assembly overlaps the beam on either side to provide a uniform, crisp edge. Constructed in eight-foot sections, the covers are easily removed for access to both electric and water components located in the utility channel.

Marina Ventures Corporate Headquarters:
2501 Boston Street Baltimore, MD. USA 21224

US Sales Phone:
(410) 522.0229
Int'l Sales Phone:
(410) 522.4007
(410) 327.8883

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