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Old 30-07-2015, 05:59   #1
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The man/water interface...swim ladders

As we approach casting off to warmer climes this winter/spring our thoughts are running to getting in and out of the boat. Most of our cruising has been in coooold water with free docks. So we don't do any swimming and not much dinghy use. But now things will likely change.

Below is a picture of our boat. What would you recommend to get in and out of the dinghy? We have a blow up kayak, a good one, but a little tight to get into. Also for swimming? And have an 8 hp outboard to handle.

What kind of ladder or other solution would you suggest? We are in our 60's and our ballerina dancing days are over. Consider weight bearing capacity.
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Old 30-07-2015, 06:16   #2
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Take a look here: http://www.up-n-out.com/boat-ladders/
I think it would work really well on your boat, as it does ours. Ladder has he characteristics of a flexible collapsable but is solid and rigid in use. It stores accordioned into itself, out of the way on our toe rail. And it can be deployed by a MOB from the water so doubles as an emergency ladder.

Not cheap (and no affiliation other than a happy customer), but I think it would work well for you. Oh, and I can get in and out of our inflatable kayaks using the ladder as well.


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Old 30-07-2015, 06:33   #3
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

The older you get the deeper in the water the ladder needs to be. Get a good rail hung one with flat, feet friendly rungs. Rail hung because you will mostly be at anchor and facing into the wind and swell.
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Old 30-07-2015, 06:43   #4
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Mike,

They sold the business and moved overseas. No longer making the boat ladders. They have one 7 step unit left, for abot $800, plus shipping etc.
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Old 30-07-2015, 06:47   #5
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Simon,
I've been thinking of using an aluminum straight ladder, think Home Depot. Then modifying it to fit. What you can't see in the photo is the tumble home on the sides. We do have about 4 inches of toe rail, steel sides just extend above the deck.
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Old 30-07-2015, 07:19   #6
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

First, lovely boat.

Second... where was I... oh yes, getting back in is important, I was never a ballerina, and I am not light. Also, we have over 4 feet of freeboard at the stern.

I went crazy looking for a commercial option, gave up and made my own. Really very glad I did. No more hopeless compromises like the bit of crud hanging on the safety rail of the boat in the photo. Plus I was able to weld something up where there are three full rungs under the water when extended, plus one at the water line, and the ones you can see, so getting ON to the ladder itself is a breeze.

The ladder, when folded up comes down nice and low, very close to the water line (so the dingy rubs against it and does not get hooked under it like it used to with the old ladder). When folded up the steps line up with each other which makes it much kinder on the feet.

The whole job including measuring up took less than two days work, the hardest part was pickling the stainless afterwards. (I tried to farm that part out to a professional but nobody wanted the work. I can understand why, scary stuff that pickling gel.)

So, if you can find a good local welder see if you can get something fabricated to suit the stern, or if you have the gear maybe do it yourself, this was made using a 165Amp MIG at about 30% power output. I can't quite make it out in the photo, but I feel like it should be possible to have a permanent ladder there somewhere without it being in the way, and they are so much nicer to use. I keep the crappy folding thing for emergencies.
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Old 30-07-2015, 07:48   #7
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

HPeer, you ain't slingin no ladder over the back with a reverse transom.

Every day I see post 60s non-ballerinas do death defying ascents of dangerous laddery things. I bet thats what makes many, many older oeople give up cruising.

So you are very right to be looking at this most carefully now.
As a disclaimer: I own a production boat with a swim platform and they are a dream for getting on and off efficiently, SAFELY, and exerting little energy.

On your boat I would look to a large, sturdy ladder at the shrouds. You would have to hoist it and lay it along the lifelines to stow.
Unhinged, consider hand rails. Perhaps a 3 foot hinged/ detachable underwater section for swimming.

I really think big, heavy, solid, etc etc will be worth its quite expensive price. Hand rails might look 'sissy' but if you are wanting to keep the Missus safe consider them.

Remember: you use the ladder multiple times per day. You're up and down like a yo-yo.


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Ps photo below is off the net. U would need more than 4 steps etc.
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Old 30-07-2015, 08:15   #8
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

OK, reverse transom is a challenge, but here is how I would solve it. (For the record, it is not totally clear from that picture of our boat, but there is quite a bit of overhang from the top, so the lower feet are much longer to compensate.)


Excuse crappy MSPaint drawing...
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Old 30-07-2015, 08:23   #9
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Another photo, very blurry, taken from a distance with the phone, but gives an idea of what is possible, if not particularly attractive. It's rather a... um... broad backside.'
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Old 30-07-2015, 10:41   #10
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

GILow

I think The physics of your picture will make for a tough climb. As the climber gets higher the bottom of the ladder will swing under the boat and the climber will be left hanging underneath an overhang.

If some horizontal supports were added between the ladder and the hull then it would stay verticle.

If the originaposter can find a ladder that works but needs a couple added steps under the water a ladder is relatively easy to make from rope ( search YouTube or google). I would nt suggest this for the whole thing but the treads underwater don't get the load of the above water ones. rope ( search YouTube or google). I would nt suggest this for the whole thing but the treads underwater don't get the load of the above water ones.
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Old 30-07-2015, 11:02   #11
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Proper swimming ladders PITA to get in out of the dinghy as the dinghy may tend to hook up on under the steps etc. So to say a perfect dinghy ladder may not quite reach the dinghy. If your dinghy is high out of the water (some ribs are) then you may see if getting in and out without the ladder is OK before you decide what design you actually want. If the extra distance is not too big, a fender step may work for you too (chandlery: fender step).

Now a swimming ladder for swimming is like a very deep, very heavy one and attached stiffly at the top. There are steps from about 3 ft below sea level all the way to the deck and there are rails to hold onto. The attachment design at the deck level should be very stiff and sturdy. The ladder should go vertically and stay vertical also below the water. Flimsy line and wood steps designs may look romantic but are difficult to use.

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Old 30-07-2015, 12:14   #12
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

We have a four step ladder we bought from West marine that helps us get off the dinghy. I had been thinking we could just go buy a second ladder set and hang that off the first one, with maybe some kind of reinforcement behind the ladder to keep it from swinging away from you under the boat.

The other thing I was thinking was simply modifying one of these to work on my toe rail...

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Old 30-07-2015, 13:19   #13
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

I have a cunning plan. A powerful bungy cord securely attached to the masthead, leading to a pin-release fitting handy to the water's surface. A double bowline and a carabiner for attachment to the person in the water. Simply hook up, pull the pin, and hey presto! Out of the water, and soon to arrive on deck (providing the bungy tension is well matched to the hoistee's body weight...ymmv). I'll call it the Automatic Crew Member Extrication system, patent pending.
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Old 30-07-2015, 14:29   #14
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Remember the shopping bags...


And all the other junk we keep putting on board.
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Old 30-07-2015, 15:10   #15
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Re: The man/water interface...swim ladders

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Proper swimming ladders PITA to get in out of the dinghy as the dinghy may tend to hook up on under the steps etc. So to say a perfect dinghy ladder may not quite reach the dinghy. If your dinghy is high out of the water (some ribs are) then you may see if getting in and out without the ladder is OK before you decide what design you actually want. If the extra distance is not too big, a fender step may work for you too (chandlery: fender step).

Now a swimming ladder for swimming is like a very deep, very heavy one and attached stiffly at the top. There are steps from about 3 ft below sea level all the way to the deck and there are rails to hold onto. The attachment design at the deck level should be very stiff and sturdy. The ladder should go vertically and stay vertical also below the water. Flimsy line and wood steps designs may look romantic but are difficult to use.

b.
Hi, Hoppy,

First off, I want to second having the entry onto the boat by the shrouds, stepping over the life lines. The shrouds gives you something to pull on, and is also near amidships, where the chop will affect the dinghy the least.

Some people, who go snorkeling from their dinghies also require a latter to get into the dinghy from the water where they've anchored it. This, too, needs to be rigid and extend ~ 3 ft. below the waterline. (Check what depth steps you all are comfortable with, cause 30" may do.) One way to build such a ladder is out of aluminum, or timber, with the steps coming out of a central support. Don't bother with a rope ladder, they swing under the dinghy and are impossible to use effectively.

If you go with your store-bought aluminum ladder concept, use something like crutch tips to fend it off. You need to fend it off a bit, because your toes need room to go without bashing when the ball of your foot is on the ladder.

We made ourselves a boarding step to hang off at the entry gate for use at docks, and it serves for dinghy access, as well. It is timber and line, with the step long enough for me to stand on it with both feet. It is painted and has two strips of non-skid on it. Those fender steps work okay, I've used one.

Good luck with your project.

Ann
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