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Old 06-07-2014, 09:37   #1
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Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Trying to decide on an emergency/alternate boarding ladder for our IP. We have the original factory transom mount ladder (folding stainless on flat vertical transom), but when the dinghy is up on the davits this ladder is unusable, and in an emergency situation (or even after a quick swim) dropping the dink is not a quick or easy option, especially for one person.

I've looked around some and right now am leaning towards a simple five rung rope and plastic or a multi-loop setup. I know the best method is probably another rigid or folding stainless ladder, but I really don't want to spend that kind of money nor do I want to deal with storing it. I figure a small soft "ladder" will store easily and should be simple and quick to deploy from the base of the side gate stanchions. I understand that non-rigid ladders can be difficult to climb, but figure it shouldn't be too bad on our 38 since most of the ladder will be against the vertical (or nearly so) part of the hull when deployed from a side gate.

Before I spend more money, I'm curious to hear what types other cruisers carry and your experience with them...

Thanks all.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:03   #2
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Non rigid ladders are a PITA to use, even if you've just been swimming. If you are cold and tired in an emergency situation one may not be good at all. I would at least go with rigid steps if you are going with a rope style for cost savings and storage ease. I think I've seen them with starboard type or other plastic steps, or teak steps.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:05   #3
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

No suggestions on appropriate ladder but the ABYC recommendation on this issue makes supreme sense to me as I know one person who drowned after falling overboard and was unable to get the ladder down from the water.

"Means of unassisted reboarding shall be provided on all boats and must be accessible to or deployable by the person in water".

Food for thought.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:17   #4
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Great question.

I'm looking forward to hearing the responses here as well.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:30   #5
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Take a look at these ladders: Up-N-Out Marine Ladders - Boat Ladder Models

We installed one a few years ago and it continues to be one of the best additions we ever made. It has all the functionality of of a ridged ladder, but it also collapses/folds into a small space and easily stores along the rail, completely out of the way. Best of all, it can be triggered from the waterline, so doubles as a fully-functional emergency ladder.

We also have one of those Plastimo emergency ladders. I agree with Cheechako, it is very difficult to use. Barely functional, I would say.
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Old 06-07-2014, 16:50   #6
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

I made a single-width rope ladder like the one in these linked instructions:
http://mazgas.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/ladder-1.pdf

We use it as our primary boarding ladder with no issue. The narrower width gives it a sturdier step, and you can make it yourself from a single rope of whatever thickness you prefer. We also like to string a fender laterally across our flat transom to post-out the ladder a bit and keep our toes from bumping up against the hull while we climb aboard.
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Old 06-07-2014, 17:29   #7
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

In a situation where the transom is not available for boarding, I'd think a gate ladder would serve best, although, a ladder that can be let down right next to the capshrouds also has a lot to recommend it.

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Old 09-07-2014, 17:33   #8
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

I have to say that I'm a bit surprised that more people haven't chimed in on this. Anybody else have something that they use (or had and hated)?

We're in a slip for now but are going to be heading out again in a month and I'm hoping to have something worked out by then. I like the look/concept of the Up-N-Out ladders, but the $500+ price tag makes that a no go. Maybe I'll sit down and try my hand at making one of the single rope ladders like Jeff...
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Old 09-07-2014, 19:44   #9
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pau Hana Daz View Post
We're in a slip for now but are going to be heading out again in a month and I'm hoping to have something worked out by then. I like the look/concept of the Up-N-Out ladders, but the $500+ price tag makes that a no go. Maybe I'll sit down and try my hand at making one of the single rope ladders like Jeff...
They are pricey, but if you want a fully-functional boarding ladder, combined with a safety ladder (one that can be triggered from the water), that completely folds out of the way, and is incredibly well built, then it's hard to beat this ladder.
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Old 11-07-2014, 20:45   #10
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

I have a Monitor wind vane on my boat so I had to remove the stern ladder (it was a great ladder and I miss it) and purchase and install a side mount ladder. It is removable and mounts at my starboard lifeline gate. It is kept stowed in a cockpit locker when not in use. For emergencies it might be possible to climb up the wind vane itself. Since I'm not a spring chicken anymore I made an emergency rope boarding ladder with 4 plastic rungs which is lashed to the lower mounting bracket on my wind vane. I use Velcro to hold it in place. To deploy I just peel off the Velcro. The rungs reach far enough down into the water so a mature gentleman has no problem pulling himself up out of the water and using the wind vane as a ladder to get back in the boat.
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Old 11-07-2014, 22:30   #11
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

This could be a very important issue, in the event that anyone would wish to actually USE one of these ladders to climb aboard. I'm sorry, but the rope ladder above and its variations are, what's a nice term to use here? Freaking useless!

When you climb out of the water, you will want to use your feet, not your arms. A rope ladder of any design will have you hanging with your body nearly horizontal, toes hard up against the hull, unable to grip the rungs and participate in the effort to haul your lower extremities out of the water.
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Old 11-07-2014, 22:57   #12
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

I made a rope ladder last year and thought it was great, cheap and easy to store. That was till I tried using it. I having it off the stern. I have a small boat and low freeboard so how hard could it be right?
It was comical. It was barely usable. My brother-in-law is 6'7" and I thought I was going to have to tow him in. Lesson learned.


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Old 11-07-2014, 23:20   #13
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

I had the same concern - and came up with a great solution!! I bought a collapsible (four step) ladder, like the kind so see on Bennateaus and other newer boats. Those boats mount it on the scoop portion of the stern - which really can't be reached by a person in the water. I mounted mine on the vertical surface on the aft end of my transom scoop. It is ready to telescope open into the water. I have wrapped a bungee cord around it to keep it up out of the water. To test it, I jumped into the water. It was super easy to take off the bungee cord. The ladder slipped into the deployed position and I climbed onto the boat as easy as pie (3.1475...). I bought the ladder used for about $100, and spent about $50 bucks for fasteners and backing plates. I even left the original ladder on the stern, and it deploys over the new "emergency" ladder, so now I can use either one. The original ladder is larger and more robust, but couldn't be deployed from the water. The new one can.
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Old 13-07-2014, 09:39   #14
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Let us know if you find a solution.

I'm also looking for something like this, but would like a solution less than $500.
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Old 13-07-2014, 09:57   #15
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Re: Alternate and/or Emergency Ladders - Who's Using What?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pau Hana Daz View Post
SNIP

Before I spend more money, I'm curious to hear what types other cruisers carry and your experience with them...

Thanks all.
My Seawind has the one meter stern extensions that provide a flat surface less than six inches above the waterline. For me it is a no brainer to simply slide up on the sugar scoop. This has also been the experience of most folks who I have sailed with. But when skin diving with a friend he had a problem with cramps and was unable to get out of the water. I got on the boat, went forward, and dropped the ladder built into the boat in the area between the tramps. It is basically an aluminum step ladder that folds down between the hulls. He was easily able to climb out. Had the same thing happen when a lady was unable to get out using the sugar scoops. No problem for one person to do this, but probably would not work for a monohull.

But I would bet there are folks who would have problems with the forward ladder on my boat, even with the additional protection from a seaway provided by the ladder being between the hulls.

Bottom line is there is no ladder that will allow everyone to climb on the boat. On the other hand I have seen folks climb up the side of boats using rub rails as hand holds. You need to choose your ladder based on the weakest person you expect to use it, knowing that there will still be some folks too weak to use the ladder you choose.
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