What is a Landing Stage?

Mary McMahon

A landing stage is a platform which is used for the purpose of loading and unloading people and goods from oceangoing vessels, including boats and ships of all shapes, styles, and sizes. People may refer to landing stages as jetties or landings, and they can become hubs of commerce and activity as businesses gravitate towards them to provide services related to shipping.

Cargo ships are a common sight at a landing stage.
Cargo ships are a common sight at a landing stage.

The landing stage consists of a usually floating platform which boats and ships can pull up next to. In areas with shallow water or limited space, the landing stage may be designed for use with tenders and ship's boats, rather than the ships themselves, with the ship anchoring at a distance and sending craft to shore to embark and disembark cargo and passengers. Small boats which can be used as shuttles may also be docked near the landing stage for convenience.

Boats may be docked by a landing stage.
Boats may be docked by a landing stage.

Depending on the location, access to a landing stage may be controlled for security reasons, with the goal of keeping the area clear for safety as well. Authorized personnel include various harbor and dock workers who assist with handling ships and cargo, along with representatives who work with passengers. Historically, rail lines usually ran to or near landing stages to provide connections for people and cargo going on to other locations, although today such access may be provided by truck instead of by train.

Landing stages can vary considerably in size. The smallest can be found on lakes and small rivers, and may be designed to accommodate small boats only, such as fishing boats which people might use for a day on the lake. Larger landing stages can handle multiple vessels, including very large craft, and they may include features such as buildings or sheds which provide shelter in inclement weather and a place to wait for incoming boats.

Businesses which are involved in some way with shipping tend to locate themselves as closely to landing stages as possible, and rents on facilities such as warehouses which abut the landing stage can be very high. Landing stages may also house customs warehouses, immigration offices, and other government facilities related to the regulation of transport of people and goods across international boundaries. They can also house things like tourist information centers which can provide people with information about the city and the surrounding area when they arrive, and opportunistic taxi and tour operators may make a habit of staffing landing stages so that they can pick up fares.

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