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East Dorset Sailing Club

Outhauls / Pier

The Pier

Most people having been to, or driven past EDSC, will probably agree that one of the most characteristic features of the club (and in fact Evening Hill where we are located) is the century old wooden pier used as outhauls for tenders. It was built in the early days of the club and is still used and maintained completely by our members.

Needless to say, maintaining a structure this size in the middle of Poole harbour is a huge undertaking with damage to repair almost every spring after the winter storms, so, to give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a bit of history written by one of our members who was leading repairs in 2014, illustrating the self-help ethos of East Dorset Sailing Club:

“Hi, I’m currently the pier officer and as the committee member who has taken responsibility for overseeing the maintenance of the pier, I wanted to draw your attention to the work that goes into making it the long established structure that we know.

Building and repairing structures in the sea is an immense task and one which is normally undertaken at great expense by large commercial operators.  The EDSC pier is maintained WHOLLY by a small group of enthusiastic members who enjoy the application of brute force and ignorance coupled with a selection of engineering skills.

Knowing that the Pier dates back over 100 years brings some considerable responsibilty to ensure that we retain something of the original character of the structure,  with a struggle against greater demands from weather, membership and probably more now then ever-time.

The area has been a learning curve for me and it has taken some time to gain momentum with the current program of maintenance for the pier; now that we have been able to negotiate some better pricing for components, we are really starting to see some progress (the first quote we had for new legs on the pier was £120 EACH!

Because certain tasks need different states of tide, coupled with the fact that we are operating as volunteers without commercial kit, the process takes long than I had imagined.

The structure is essentially 150 big, 4m long pieces of timber (a wood called ‘greenheart’) which are stuck into the ground; long wooden joists then run down the length, with deckboards screwed or nailed on top.

We are able to sink the legs into the ground by using a waterjet (a bit like the bilge pump on your boat but it runs on petrol and would fully empty your bilges in about 10 seconds). The waterjet creates quicksand, into which we can easily sink the first 1.5m whilst being careful not to lose anyone in the sand (seriously! we need 2-3 people in at least 6″ of water around the base of the pier to do this)

The ‘Greenheart’ wood that I mentioned earlier is an amazing material, it is a hardwood from south america that is part of the laurel family; used regularly in marine environments, it is over twice as strong as either oak or teak, almost as strong as steel in construction terms but it has a corrosion resistance almost as high as that of teak.

Moving these posts around is no easy task either; we managed to get larger posts to increase the service intervals on the pier but soon discovered that it takes a few folks to carry each one to it’s new home – don’t drop them in the water either, with a higher density and specific gravity than most timbers, they sink to the bottom.

At the beginning of 2012, I identified 12 of the 150 legs that had become quite rotten and worn away by the sea, with a further 7 that were in the latter stages of their lives, we managed to obtain 20 new legs, with the associated cross braces and fixings at a cost of nearly £2000. 8 of these legs have been put in place in the last 6 months (red: late 2012), along with 10 outhauls that have been replaced/repaired and various repairs to the rest of the pier, including a lot of work recently to rectify the damage from storms and poor weather before Christmas.

In the next year, we hope to install the rest of the new legs, to brace the pier thoroughly to increase it’s rigidity and resistance to movement, to replace all the outstanding deckboards and maybe even cut up some old tyres to use on the end platform to make coming alongside a less dangerous activity.

In the short term, we will be replacing 12 ladders with a tried and tested galvanised type, in favour of the softwood type which only tend to last a season or so, we will also be standardising the cleats to ensure that the outhauls are best attached to the pier; finally new numbers will be issued to each outhaul position (so you can find your tender in the dark).”