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Old 17-07-2013, 05:57   #1
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A Better Boarding Ladder

An incident yesterday in calm and anchored conditions make me rethink the actual usefulness of some of the more common side-boarding ladders used by sailboaters.

I have something similar to this:



The "uprights" turn sideways for stowage and two circular fittings lock into deck "keyways". This one replaced a previous model that collapsed under the weight of a "tweenager" (maybe 110 pounds?)

Trying to reboard yesterday, I had one of the standoff legs buckle to one side. The standoff legs were not, in fact, long enough to permit a "90 degree" climb in the first place and I got a set of crumpled toes and a rapid immersion out of the deal. With the aid of a fender rigged as a step, I eventually hoisted myself back aboard. Educational, in a painful and frustrating sort of way.

Basically, despite a hefty price, this ladder has proved to be a cheap piece of crap. I am looking for alternatives that both work and can be stowed flat. I would prefer, given the boat's lines, to have a removable option.

How many people use rope ladders, either a single line with foot loops or a ladder with knots and wooden/plastic "steps"? Is going for the permanently mounted SS tube type (either telescoping or folding) a better option? This boat has relatively low freeboard at midships, and I would prefer something there as opposed to the rather pinched stern.

I would add that had I needed to get board for real, as in a MOB situation, I would have been in real trouble, even with a Lifesling on the rail. As it was, it was mostly just inconvenient and scrape-inducing.

Thanks.
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Old 17-07-2013, 06:09   #2
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Maybe these will help.

www.up-n-out.com
www.mysticstainless.com
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Old 17-07-2013, 06:13   #3
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Rope ladders are an emergency backup. If you are healthy and strong, you can get out but it takes effort and could still be difficult in anything but calm conditions.

I would suggest looking at dive ladders. Far easier to climb. Get one with the extra deep leg. The mounting bracket is small. You pull a pin and the whole ladder comes off.

Anything that is light weight and folds will probably suffer structurally, so there is no free lunch.

As cruisers, we accept that form follows function and have a 3 step ladder that flips up and is held in position by a bungy. It may not look as nice as a ladder that is stowed when not in use but in an emergency, I could swim up give a good yank to overcome the bungy and climb out unassisted.
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Old 17-07-2013, 06:21   #4
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Rope ladders are an emergency backup. If you are healthy and strong, you can get out but it takes effort and could still be difficult in anything but calm conditions.

I would suggest looking at dive ladders. Far easier to climb. Get one with the extra deep leg. The mounting bracket is small. You pull a pin and the whole ladder comes off.

Anything that is light weight and folds will probably suffer structurally, so there is no free lunch.

As cruisers, we accept that form follows function and have a 3 step ladder that flips up and is held in position by a bungy. It may not look as nice as a ladder that is stowed when not in use but in an emergency, I could swim up give a good yank to overcome the bungy and climb out unassisted.

I would urge boat owners to consider that maybe not everyone on the boat will be as fit as you are -- and that if you were injured badly enough in the fall, you might need the extra help, too. I think rope ladders make great firewood, and I would urge people to get at least a 4 rung ladder. I had one that was collapsable and extremely sturdy on my old boat. My current boat has one built into the rear pulpit, excellent design just for that boat -- and long enough.
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Old 17-07-2013, 06:35   #5
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
I would urge boat owners to consider that maybe not everyone on the boat will be as fit as you are -- and that if you were injured badly enough in the fall, you might need the extra help, too. I think rope ladders make great firewood, and I would urge people to get at least a 4 rung ladder. I had one that was collapsable and extremely sturdy on my old boat. My current boat has one built into the rear pulpit, excellent design just for that boat -- and long enough.
Maybe you could consider a power hoist for when you are badly injured...you could pull yourself up the line you are dragging behind to trip the wheel and after the boat turns into the wind you would then power hoist into the cockpit to treat your bad injuries. I urge everyone to get a power hoist for the unfit.
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Old 17-07-2013, 06:35   #6
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Alchemy:

Another source:

White Water Marine
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Old 17-07-2013, 07:48   #7
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

I built my own from stainless tubing that looks generally like "ladder 2" in the post above, but mine hangs from the toe rail at my genoa track.



It may be difficult to dintinguish the ladder here as it's stowed atop my dinghy davits and under my solar panel. I used pop rivets instead of the allen screws and the wrapped line allows for the steps to be easy on the feet. I made this ladder after the plastic rungs on my cheap folding ladder had broken leaving very sharp edges.
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Old 17-07-2013, 07:49   #8
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Interesting! Thanks. I like the principle of the "outward curve".
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Old 17-07-2013, 07:53   #9
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Re: A better boarding ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Rope ladders are an emergency backup. If you are healthy and strong, you can get out but it takes effort and could still be difficult in anything but calm conditions.

I would suggest looking at dive ladders. Far easier to climb. Get one with the extra deep leg. The mounting bracket is small. You pull a pin and the whole ladder comes off.

Anything that is light weight and folds will probably suffer structurally, so there is no free lunch.

As cruisers, we accept that form follows function and have a 3 step ladder that flips up and is held in position by a bungy. It may not look as nice as a ladder that is stowed when not in use but in an emergency, I could swim up give a good yank to overcome the bungy and climb out unassisted.
Good points. I have no problem conceptually with a far more substantial ladder on our other boat...which is 41 feet LOA, made of steel and could bear any size of sturdy ladder wherever we cared to install it...but the "Lake Ontario boat" is an old sloop that I would prefer is left as clean on deck (and stern) as we can. We don't even have gates in the lifelines...as was commented upon by my wife yesterday!
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Old 17-07-2013, 07:56   #10
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptForce View Post
I built my own from stainless tubing that looks generally like "ladder 2" in the post above, but mine hangs from the toe rail at my genoa track.



It may be difficult to dintinguish the ladder here as it's stowed atop my dinghy davits and under my solar panel. I used pop rivets instead of the allen screws and the wrapped line allows for the steps to be easy on the feet. I made this ladder after the plastic rungs on my cheap folding ladder had broken leaving very sharp edges.
I have considered making it myself, even by padding an aluminum ladder that I could fabricate a hinge for. Lake Ontario's fresh water allows stuff you can't get away with elsewhere.

Good comments, all. Thanks for the brain fodder.
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Old 17-07-2013, 08:10   #11
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

I built an extension to my boarding ladder out of some PVC and dockline that has been working for me for five years now:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: Boarding ladder extension
Use it for every swim.
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Old 17-07-2013, 08:12   #12
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pirate Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
An incident yesterday in calm and anchored conditions make me rethink the actual usefulness of some of the more common side-boarding ladders used by sailboaters.

I have something similar to this:



The "uprights" turn sideways for stowage and two circular fittings lock into deck "keyways". This one replaced a previous model that collapsed under the weight of a "tweenager" (maybe 110 pounds?)

Trying to reboard yesterday, I had one of the standoff legs buckle to one side. The standoff legs were not, in fact, long enough to permit a "90 degree" climb in the first place and I got a set of crumpled toes and a rapid immersion out of the deal. With the aid of a fender rigged as a step, I eventually hoisted myself back aboard. Educational, in a painful and frustrating sort of way.

Basically, despite a hefty price, this ladder has proved to be a cheap piece of crap. I am looking for alternatives that both work and can be stowed flat. I would prefer, given the boat's lines, to have a removable option.

How many people use rope ladders, either a single line with foot loops or a ladder with knots and wooden/plastic "steps"? Is going for the permanently mounted SS tube type (either telescoping or folding) a better option? This boat has relatively low freeboard at midships, and I would prefer something there as opposed to the rather pinched stern.

I would add that had I needed to get board for real, as in a MOB situation, I would have been in real trouble, even with a Lifesling on the rail. As it was, it was mostly just inconvenient and scrape-inducing.

Thanks.
I see you have a steel boat... weld some bar rungs on her...
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Old 17-07-2013, 09:02   #13
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

I used to have a lightweight ladder like that, now I have this thing:

WEST MARINE P012868550 at West Marine

We have the 6 step model which goes well into the water. The hooks are wrapped in 2" white sanitation hose. Because the hooks don't flip it's a pain in the ass to store, but it's solid and we've never had an issue with it. I don't think you can really appreciate the importance of a solid and deep boarding ladder until you've been in a really bucking seaway and needed to board from the water and from a dinghy.
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Old 17-07-2013, 09:33   #14
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

A good boarding ladder needs to be ALWAYS ready and deployable from the water. Ours uses a line that can be yanked from the water to allow the ladder to drop down. As an often single hander I find it comforting.
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Old 17-07-2013, 11:37   #15
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Re: A Better Boarding Ladder

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A good boarding ladder needs to be ALWAYS ready and deployable from the water. Ours uses a line that can be yanked from the water to allow the ladder to drop down. As an often single hander I find it comforting.

WHAT HE SAID!!!!!!
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