Bulkhead/Pier stairs for kayak launching


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Old 06-18-24, 11:18 AM
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Bulkhead/Pier stairs for kayak launching

My spouse and I recently moved to a great waterfront house, with a pier and bulkhead. We have a couple of kayaks, and need stairs into the water to launch them. The stairs could either be from the pier, or the bulkhead. The pictures below are about halfway between high and low tide.

This is a tidal river that feeds the Chesapeake Bay, so it's slightly brackish, but not as salty as the bay itself. I've looked a bit at aluminum marine grade stairs but those are $$$.

I think the best (easiest/cheapest) option would be pressure treated wood. Buy premade stringers and treads, don't use risers, to help the tidal water pass through. Build the stairs on land, then install, and I'm looking for suggestions for specifically how to install the stairs to the pier/bulkhead.

I'm thinking it might be easiest to use stringer brackets to mount the stairs to a board, then screw the board into the pier/bulkhead?

Am I on the right track? Or is there a better option?

The riverbed is basically mud. Should I have the stairs long enough to get down to the mud, or just deep enough to be in the water at low tide?






 
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Old 06-18-24, 01:25 PM
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First, read up on the CAMA rules regarding what you can do and what permits might be required.

For everything I built at the coast, especially if it's going into the water I used wood treated for that use. The normal pressure treated lumber from a big box store and most lumber yards is NOT rated for ground contact or wet conditions. The properly treated wood will last much longer in the tough marine environment.

"Should I have the stairs long enough to get down to the mud, or just deep enough to be in the water at low tide?"
The bottom of the stairs will need to be supported. Usually it's with posts driven into the mud just like dock pilings.
 
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Old 06-18-24, 01:35 PM
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I bought this ladder from my granddaughters trampoline. Possible that would be a place to start

 
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Old 06-18-24, 01:37 PM
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Here is a better image. I found this on Amazon and it has worked out well for us
 
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Old 06-18-24, 02:11 PM
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I was also looking at ladders, but want something the dog can use as well, since he loves swimming

Looks like CAMA is for NC? I'm in Maryland, but we have pretty strict rules as well, so will be checking the permitting process. Lowes sells a "Severe Weather Ground Contact pressure treated exterior wood protected" stringer. Not sure if that's suitable?
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Severe-Weat...ger/1000127669


There's a place a couple hours from me that specializes in marine grade lumber, so will see if they do stringers and treads.

https://longlifetreatedwood.com/prod...timber-lumber/
 
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Old 06-18-24, 03:07 PM
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You can order the treated lumber from any lumber yard or big box center.

 
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Old 06-18-24, 07:24 PM
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Could you use a floating swimming platform? A small one with steps going from the pier. I've seen some DYI type using plastic barrels. I've also seen some inflatable platforms but not sure how you would include steps.
 
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Old 06-18-24, 09:00 PM
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would also look into a floating platform with a ramp as the better option.
 
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Old 06-19-24, 05:55 AM
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I do like the idea of a floating platform!

Would be a bit more involved on the DIY side, but I could manage.

Any ideas how it would be secured, so that it can float an up and down, but not float away? A lot of pictures I'm seeing show them in what look to be ponds/lakes (no tides), so just tied to shore/the ramp. We have probably 2-3' ft of tide change. So my concern would be if it were just tied off, there'd be a lot of bumping into the pier/bulkhead.

I'm thinking would need some sort of posts/rods on the floating portion, and guides on the pier or bulkhead or piling?
 
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Old 06-19-24, 06:20 AM
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One way would be to use metal pipes. A short horizontal section with a 90 elbow, a longer vertical section and then another horizontal section with a 90

Another would be to have have some sort of loop that goes around the posts.
 
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Old 06-19-24, 08:06 AM
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I think the simplest would be a ramp or steps hinged to the pier at the top and on rollers on the floating dock at the bottom.The dock must be big enough to allow for the ramp/steps to move and accommodate the changing water levels.
 
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Old 06-19-24, 08:08 AM
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the ramp is typically hinged so the angle changes with rising and falling water levels with a pier you would likely secure the ramp to the pier but in most other cases they use cables to keep it from floating away still likely a good idea to probably have a cable anchored to shore just in case the ramp came loose and you could recover it.
if you was using barrels for an inexpensive float some will add water to them to get them to sit closer to the water more or to level them the ramp will add weight to one side so may keep that in mind if your going that route.


 
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