Located about 400 miles northeast of Quebec City, the Gaspesie peninsula and les Iles-de-la-Madeleine presents some of the most picturesque scenery in maritime Canada.
Beckoning passengers aboard ships cruising the St. Lawrence River, both ports boast covered landing facilities as elegant as they are functional. Engineered by Structurmarine, they provide comfort and safety for travelers moving from ship to shore.
Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine welcomes cruise passengers from August to October, and Gaspesie from May to October. Authorities at both ports sought to upgrade their docks and improve the experience for tourists who come ashore via shuttle boats to shop, view local attractions and sample legendary regional cuisine.
Denis Bourque, cruise ship development coordinator for the port of les Iles-de-la-Madeleine, knows the island's weather is a challenge, with winds of up to 75 mph, tides, currents and rough waves. In heavy wind and rain, "disembarking onto a wharf without shelter is not pleasant," he said.
To help mitigate passenger discomfort, Structurmarine enhanced the landings at les Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Gaspesie with a high tension membrane shade system on its gangways and parts of the docks. Airy yet substantial, the installations give the ports a polished appearance. "Commercial facilities such as these get heavy use and must withstand a great deal of traffic," said Bruno Nolet, Structurmarine sales manager for North America and the Caribbean. "Safety was foremost in our design."
As with all Structurmarine projects, its engineers developed dock and anchoring solutions for each site's specific needs. Its rugged Structure 100 aluminum docks, designed for service boats in the 100' range, were utilized. This accommodates the heavy use of the landing, though the cruise ship shuttles are less than half that size. The docks handle waves up to 6', and have superior strength, stability and resistance to corrosion.
At Gaspesie, Structurmarine employed push-arm anchoring along the shore line. A 328' long landing dock is partially covered by its shade system, with a fully protected 40' aluminum gangway. A triangular configuration at les Iles-de-Madeleine consists of 120 linear ft. of docks with vertical track anchoring along a side wall. The 30' aluminum gangway and 40' of dock are covered. Handicapped-accessible, the generous 14'-wide docks have removable handrails to give passengers easy shuttle access.
Proprietary Structurmarine roof systems flex with the docks during wave action, yet retain their structural integrity. A flexible but tough pretensioned membrane provides shelter from sun or rain and withstands high wind loads. "They are especially useful when tour groups return to the dock at the end of their shore visit," Nolet said. "People have a comfortable place to gather as they wait for conveyance back to the cruise ship."
Up next for les Iles-de-la-Madeleine port is an extension of the overhead structure. Their cruise ship season will extend to May in 2015. Structurmarine will expand the roof of approximately 600 sq. ft. onto the island itself to better protect congregating cruise ship passengers. "Working with Structurmarine is a good experience because they understand the environment that we work in," Bourque said.