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Old 06-08-2017, 09:29   #1
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Show me your boarding ladder (please)

We are a big sailboat with very high freeboard (5 feet going up to 6 feet + at the stern). We are making plans for leaving the dock and realized that the boarding ladder we have is fine for a dock or a dinghy and would be less than useless if someone were trying to board from the water.

We are both in our 60s and moderately fit, but I've never had much upper body strength so I doubt I could heave myself far enough up the present ladder to get a foothold.

Ideally it would be portable, or telescoping, and not ugly.

Has anyone else faced this dilemma?

Thanks
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:50   #2
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

before patriciacane mine looked exactly like this in bronze and mahogany. its temporary replacement is a stainless tubing special someone welded up for me. i prefer the wide steps of the mahogany.
parts are available online in kits and wood of choice in your local lumber yard or specialty lumber yard.

ps my transom freeboard is close to 8 ft, from water to cap. i board midships where there is less movement, and less freeboard, at the waist. even med tied i board and disembark midships. is why i has a dink.
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:59   #3
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Howdy.

Boarding Ladders are a good subject. I like to see examples too.

I don't own a boat, so you may take my remarks below with a splash of saltwater. But, I have boarded enough boats to form an opinion on what makes it easier or more difficult.

In general, I think most boarding ladders on typical yachts are not robust or long enough.

As I see it, a boat should have more than one ladder. One can be easily deployed for boarding from a dinghy, with temporary attachment to the boat, and could be shorter, with heavier construction and easy handholds. The other could be longer, and intended for use when the person is in the water.

Here is a link to previous discussions on CF about boarding ladders
https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=011403...der&gsc.page=1

My friendly suggestion: Given each boat is different, I think posting a photo of your boat's hull showing the place you intend to mount a boarding ladder is a good idea, even if you don't have one mounted there or selected yet.

Here is an example of a long ladder that was mounted on the stern of a 42 foot boat that had moderate freeboard (and beside it is a 37' boat with lower freeboard). Notice that this laddder drops down and is over 5 feet long, so that when lowered, about three of the rings will be below the water. Yes, it does stick up when in the upright position.

I think having more than one or two rungs under the water is very important, if not essential and having rigid sides is important too in order to help you have some leverage when climbing. I have climbed up from water level using ladders that were too short (my opinion) and found it difficult, especially if the boat is moving in waves. If one is older, heavy, or out of shape, tired, or cold, it could be very difficult.

I would also add some nonslip material to the rungs.

Rope ladders are difficult to climb for they move and your body cannot work as efficiently when climbing them.

If one is boarding from a dinghy, I think an alternative is a step or rung or two suspended from a set of ropes or a shorter rigid ladder to make it easier to get aboard from dinghy level. I recently boarded a boat with moderate freeboard from a dinghy, and watched as the other crew did too. Each found it difficult, even from dinghy level at the gate, when only using the stanchions to assist them as a grab point. There was no step or ladder there. I think a more robust short boarding ladder here would have made it much easier for the crew (50s) or the 70 year old owner to board.
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Old 06-08-2017, 11:01   #4
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

This is the best one I guess
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Old 06-08-2017, 12:20   #5
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

We have one of these. Works very well and has two steps in the water which makes it quite easy to get onto if you are swimming (I am a bit older than you). Bloody expensive but I think ours was original to the boat so it is 35 years old and still looks and works fine. You can get different mounting options - ours connects to cars on the genoa track on top of our teak toe rail. This means we can move it from one side to the other.

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Old 06-08-2017, 12:25   #6
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Here's my ladder, the first and only time it's been used. It's a removable ladder with one rung below water that clips to the toe-rail (sorry for not focusing on the ladder in this pic, but you can see where it attaches) - it may be portable, but it's ugly so not what you're looking for. I also have a rope ladder that is rolled up and permanently available, releasable with a string that reaches the waterline.

My friend, who came to join me for my week in Glacier Bay, is an experienced cold-water swimmer and wanted to stand on an iceberg. He had never done a cold-water swim from a boat before, so he thoroughly inspected the reboarding options before starting ... including a backup system of detaching the mainsheet from the traveller, and me hauling him out manually. This is the part of man-overboard procedure that never seems to get covered in sailing classes.

He said that once hypothermia starts to set in, one of the first things to go is grip strength in your hands ... no problem if you're walking back onto a beach, but a big deal for reboarding a boat. So two necessary things for the ladder are (1) good handholds, and (2) keeping as much weight on your feet as possible, so you are not hauling yourself up by your hands - this needs rungs below waterline, a rigid structure, and not overhanging. Rope ladders overhang when your weight is on them and are quite demanding on the hands gripping. Rope ladders also push the rope and upper rungs next to the hull which makes them awkward for numb feet and hard to grab with hands, and he didn't like the thought of my rope ladder despite having two rungs below water - even after less than one minute swimming.

In the tropics this might not be such a concern, but until you get there the water is cold and after any time swimming an MOB will probably be facing hypothermia.

ps. we also had to select an iceberg with the same properties: a solid handhold above water and a good foot-ledge below water. He made it onto the berg and back onto the boat without problems ... although it took almost 2 hours before his toes finally warmed up.
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Old 06-08-2017, 12:37   #7
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Quote:
Originally Posted by redhead View Post
This is the best one I guess
Attachment 153537
You have a larger than average boat, with more freeboard than average.

I like the ladders that have the arched handhold that goes above the deck level, that make it easier to get up on deck. And those that have the wide steps.

Since you do have a larger boat, and more deck, I would purchase something like this ladder, which is available in stainless or aluminum, and modify it to get the length you need. If necessary, I would contact the manufacturer, to ask about a custom built one that is longer, or modify by adding length to an existing model.

https://www.amazon.com/RecPro-PONTOO...2047696&sr=8-3

These can be quickly mounted to a deck of a boat with a low fitting that is inexpensive, $19 and made for this unit). Then dismounted after use, or pulled up for security at night or moving the boat.

I have no connection to these sellers, but this is what I would consider.

This one below is fixed five steps and aluminum. It is just $144 with free shipping from Amazon.

They also make one that is similar length, and design, but made of stainless tube with one telescopes, but a fixed model may be good too. It is just about $160 from Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/RecPro-Marine...047730&sr=8-33
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Old 06-08-2017, 14:07   #8
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

This is without a doubt the MOST import safety equipment on the boat is the boarding. We have had 4 people who died at our marina, by falling in and not being able to get out. Another two who were very close. Most happen during the winter, when time in the water is very critical. I think a key component is it can be pulled down by a person in the water and also lowered while your underway in a seaway. I fell in while under sail and a quick launching ladder is a key to getting the person back onboard. Dockside is a whole different problem.

My is just like this one, with an added loop dropping to just above the water to pull it down.
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Old 06-08-2017, 14:17   #9
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

redhead,

I think you will do best with one that can be, as zeehag suggested, located at the waist of the ship; it is the least motion area, and you have the shrouds to grab onto as well.

After you've looked at some of the ready made options, you may find one that will work for you, or you may want to have one custom made. I have seen one that swings up to the side, along the lifelines on a big bearing, and is secured just outboard, and then comes down when you need it.

Good luck with the search.

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Old 06-08-2017, 15:13   #10
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Have limited net access, but look up Up And Out boarding ladders. Not sure if they're still around, but this is an awesome boarding ladder. It collapses into a small bundle that can be completely out of the way. Telescoping and customizable to each boat. And can be retrieved from a folded position from the water, making it the perfect emergency ladder as well.
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Old 06-08-2017, 16:18   #11
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Have limited net access, but look up Up And Out boarding ladders. Not sure if they're still around, but this is an awesome boarding ladder. It collapses into a small bundle that can be completely out of the way. Telescoping and customizable to each boat. And can be retrieved from a folded position from the water, making it the perfect emergency ladder as well.
Nice looking systems they have. I'm getting one of their dinghy ladders. Just two weekends ago we couldn't get a person out of the water and into a dinghy, had to use a Lifesling.

https://up-n-out.com/gate-mounted-ladders/
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Old 07-08-2017, 09:41   #12
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

A bad movie but a scenario you would't want to find yourself in, so good you have recognized the problem. Open Water 2: Adrift (2006) - IMDb
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:08   #13
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Quote:
Originally Posted by redhead View Post
This is the best one I guess
Attachment 153537
I see the boat, where's the ladder?
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:10   #14
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Quote:
Originally Posted by redhead View Post
This is the best one I guess
Attachment 153537
hahaha that's YOUR boat! I thought someone was sending you a pic of their ladder....duh
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:48   #15
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Re: Show me your boarding ladder (please)

Redhead:


You sail in cold water as I do. My take on ladders is this: A “boarding ladder” is fairly useless as a safety device because of what the cold water of the Salish Sea can do to you. You say that your upper body strength is little, and I'm sure you know that you needn't be in the water very many minutes before what strength you have is SERIOUSLY reduced, and climbing any kind of ladder unaided becomes extremely difficult. That knowledge should govern your choice of ladder.


Consider how a weakened body, having assumed the fetal position as a means of reducing heat loss, floats: Face down. As you raise your head from that position and reach out for the ladder, your feet will sink to a depth of about four feet. The bottom rung of the deployed ladder must therefore be at a depth of , say, FIVE feet if the ladder is to be of any use to you. Only if you can get your feet on a rung four or five feet down and use your thigh muscles to raise yourself out of the water rung by rung, do you have any real hope of doing so. So that measure is your principal criterion for the section of a ladder. On your large boat, a folding ladder hinged at the water line just might be possible, but obviously, when raised, the bottom rung will at your rail or even above it! Doesn t make for good aesthetics.


As Jim and others have said, midships – at the gates, - is better than on the transom, but having such a clunky device fitted permanently there is a serious impediment to coming alongside. I wouldn't have it. But the rules say that we must have a “reboarding device”, so I have a sorry little excuse for a ladder that satisfies that requirement in the technical sense, but which in a real emergency would be totally useless. Bei mir, the truth is that NO MOB will ever get back aboard without help from the people remaining aboard! Strong medicine is needed!


My preferred method is to slip the main luff, drop the sail overboard, get the man into the bunt of it and parbuckle him up onto the deck using the still attached halyard and its winch. Second best, IMO, is using the main boom as a cargo boom, but that, obviously, requires that it be fitted with a running topping lift that can be taken to a winch. IM further O, a running topping lift is an ESSENTIAL piece of safety gear that no cruising boat should be without.


Since a PO of TP was a little weak on the fundamentals, he fitted her with a mast-furling main. DOH!! In consequence, in addition to the stumpy, useless, “reboarding device” fitted on the transom, I carry an old-fashioned “Jacob's ladder”: two-foot pieces of pipe (“black pipe” for the weight to sink the ladder) set a foot apart on two lines forming the wings of the ladder. Make your own. They are time tested. They roll up and stow nicely in a bag.


God forbid that either of us should ever have to use one “for real”!


Cheers


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