Photos: Petar Fabijan, Davor Žunić
Inventions change the world for the better, and make life simpler and happier. The human mind is a miracle. Since the first invention – the discovery of fire – to the ones of the wheel, the printing press, penicillin, the Internet, to the technological advances of the 21st century, humanity has come up with different innovations to simplify life, and all those creations contributed to the evolution of the human species. Croatia is a small country, but a land of great minds and inventions. No matter in which sphere of life they work and explore, all inventors are guided by the same thought: to improve the field of their activity.
With this in mind, a new invention was designed, an element connecting the anchor chain and the floating dock, named by its inventor, Gordan Župa, the Zup Connector. The company Dubina Inženjering, owned by Župa, has been installing anchoring systems for decades, not only along the Adriatic coast, but also abroad, e.g., they have installed a large breakwater in Malta. They have years of experience and field work. They have completed many projects, and, of course, faced many problems, one of which is the eternal question of how to control corrosion on the anchor chain inside the floating dock.
CHALLENGES OF ANCHORING FLOATING DOCKS
Floating docks are anchored using anchor chains or alternative means connected to concrete blocks placed at the bottom of the sea, the so-called deadmen. The anchor chains are connected to the floating dock inside the dock itself: they extend throughout the dock’s hollow part and are held in place in the floating dock’s shell. The chain in the dock’s hollow part is at the waterline and is especially prone to corrosion. As floating docks are categorised as motorless watercraft, they are subject to annual periodic inspections, and, every five years, to underwater surveys done by authorised companies.
– Corrosion is like an invisible piranha, biting until it bites through the chain. The problem is that corrosion on the anchor chain inside the floating dock is invisible to the eye, that is, it becomes visible only when it’s too late, when the chain breaks, leading to big problems and enormous material damage, says Gordan Župa. Namely, when performing an underwater survey of a floating dock’s anchoring system, the diver inspects the thickness of the chain, its wear and tear, the condition of the shackle, etc. But in order to inspect the anchor chain that is inside the floating dock’s hollow part, it is necessary to take the chain out of it and out of the sea, and this is logistically, technically and financially demanding, not only because of the chain’s weight but also because this leads to the weakening of the anchoring system since, generally, boats are moored to the floating dock during the inspection.
ZUP CONNECTOR BYPASSES THE SPOT WHERE THE FLOAT AND THE ANCHOR CHAIN CONNECT
That anchor chains in our marinas often break due to corrosion and, additionally, harsh weather is a fact investors are only too aware of. There was a choice: either go for the more difficult and financially more demanding option, i.e., disassembling the anchoring system during underwater inspections, or consider a new product. And this is where Gordan Župa hit on an idea – to move, using his Zup Connector, the spot where the float and the anchor chain connect outside the dock. In this way, the diver can inspect the anchor chain without disassembling the connector and pulling the chain out of the water. The connecting element is placed in the hollow, extending its entire length, and is held in place in the floating’s dock shell. The lower part sticks out of the dock and the anchor chain is connected to it. In this way, the place where the anchor chain and the floating dock are connected is not inside but outside the dock and is easily accessible for inspection. The entire length of the chain is underwater, reducing corrosion, and the connector itself significantly reduces the damage to the concrete wall of the floating dock structure, says Gordan Župa, the inventor of the Zup Connector. Having had his idea praised by the people from the Croatian Register of Shipping, he put it to paper with the help of engineer Baldo Bakalić. From there, the Zup Connector came to life in the facilities of the renowned Croatian company Salona Var, which, in its twenty-five years’ history, has done more than 300 successful large-scale jobs for Croatian and international clients. The first Zup Connectors have already been installed in our marinas, the investment negligible in relation to the benefits it brings, the investors say.