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Old 06-18-2019, 09:52 AM   #1
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Re-boarding Ladder

I didn't want to derail the other thread that's floating around on a dockside boarding ladder. But I do want to pick people's brains about boarding ladders.

I'm talking about something permanently in place that can be released and used by someone in the water. I shamelessly borrowed these pics from a member (I hope you don't mind). I think this is a very smart idea, but I'm curious what others do.

Rope ladders, hard folding ladders...good ideas welcome.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:32 AM   #2
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I've thought about it. There are many different scenarios. swimming off the stern. Falling overboard when solo. (with or without life jacket) Falling overboard on crewed vessel. Never reached any solid solution.

I typically wear life jacket in extremely rough conditions or at night. Have a strobe and whistle but no place to attach small epirb. Only useful if someone sees you go over.
I think if I fall over windage and waves will move the boat far beyond my ability to swim to it.

If I make it back to ladder hypothermia may make it impossible to climb ladder. A block and tackle would be required to hoist me. I keep returning to the same conclusion. Use a tether when moving around in sketchy conditions.

Don't fall off the boat.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:43 AM   #3
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I'm going to install one of the 'under swim deck' slide-out extendable ladders - 4 step would take it almost 4' under water when extended. Can't hurt, and could be a life saver. Under $100.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:47 AM   #4
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You're right, there are many different scenarios and I've found no end in people's ability to say "oh yah, well what if..." in order to shoot down whatever idea someone comes up with.

But "Don't fall off the boat" is a great Plan A, but with my background I want to have a Plan B and Plan C as well.
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Old 06-18-2019, 11:58 AM   #5
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I'm going to install one of the 'under swim deck' slide-out extendable ladders - 4 step would take it almost 4' under water when extended. Can't hurt, and could be a life saver. Under $100.
Those are great for boats with the right swim platform and that would be my first choice. But my swim platform is integrated to the hull so I don't have an "under swim deck". Here's a model of my transom steps.

I've considered that type of ladder, but mounted under the tunnel. But I think it would catch too much water to be useful for me.

The three options I'm considering are a transom mount folding ladder like the photos above, a flexible rope ladder above the tunnel held with Velcro or break away line, or possibly an above-the-waterline step just above one of my rudders, then using the railing as part of the ladder.

This last option would require a person to still have upper body strength and would create a snag hazard at the dock. Both are less than ideal.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:18 PM   #6
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The three options I'm considering are a transom mount folding ladder like the photos above, a flexible rope ladder above the tunnel held with Velcro or break away line, or possibly an above-the-waterline step just above one of my rudders, then using the railing as part of the ladder.
I have flex rope ladder on dinghy. As soon as I try to climb up, rungs swing under dinghy. Meaning I end up using all upper body strength. Easier to use outboard as a step but very awkward trying to fall over transom into dinghy.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:19 PM   #7
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A timely thread.
With my solo venture coming up I just decided to put both boarding ladders out .. one on each side aft. There I’m going to tie a loop or eye of an ideal length to sub as a step to the bottom of the port ladder. Should be able to get up the ladder then. If I can get my foot in the loop. Better make the loop rather large.

I’l be raising anchors on the port side and there I’m going to tie a loop or eye of an ideal length to loop around my middle w the lead out behind me. There’s a good place to tie the end to my fwd/stbd stanchion base. That way I can lean out a bit to tend the rodes/anchors.
Better put a knife in my pocket or I could hang myself above the water and below the cap rail and get stuck. Better give that more thought.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:21 PM   #8
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We decided this year that no matter what the weather is we will wear auto inflatable PFDs any time we are underway. We are getting, maybe already have gotten, older and I am not sure how long either one of us could tread water so we will wear them all the time just in case. The inflatables that we chose have a harness built in so we could possibly use the crane on our transom to lift each other out of the water, maybe. Unfortunately PFD manufactures do not include means of attaching a strobe or PLB. I donít understand that though process. So I sewed on two velcro attachment points on ours to hold a PLB and a strobe. We also have two teathers on each PFD to attach to each other and also our dog, Radar who has his own PFD.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:23 PM   #9
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My swim step has a folding ladder built in. I can deploy it from the water, but it isn't easy and I have long arms. A shorter purson would not be able to do it. Furthermore, the ladder is blocked by the dinghy on the SeaWise davit on the swim step. So if we are swimming, it is easy because the dinghy is dropped and the ladder is deployed. However, if someone was to fall in the water, they would not be able to self rescue.


The PO recognized this and had someone install a foldable under the swim step ladder on the port side. Unfortunately, the person that did the install didn't do a very good job and it allowed water to intrude into the interior wood supports that are completely glassed in. It swelled and caused some cracking of the step and the swim step void filled with water. So it was a good and effective idea but poorly executed.



I removed that ladder, had the FG repaired and the holes sealed. I drained the water from the swim step interior. What I haven't done is replace that ladder. I really need to figure something out, because if I fall it, I cannot get back on the boat unassisted.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:27 PM   #10
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Sometimes if the ladder is hard to reach from the water you can splice a line around the ladder and have it reach the back of the swim platform and hang down a bit. A snap on the swim platform and a strap on the line with a snap on it to secure the line in the proper place so it can be reached from the water. Just make sure the snap in the swim platform is installed properly so it wonít leak water into the swim platform.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:42 PM   #11
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We decided this year that no matter what the weather is we will wear auto inflatable PFDs any time we are underway. We are getting, maybe already have gotten, older and I am not sure how long either one of us could tread water so we will wear them all the time just in case. The inflatables that we chose have a harness built in so we could possibly use the crane on our transom to lift each other out of the water, maybe. Unfortunately PFD manufactures do not include means of attaching a strobe or PLB. I donít understand that though process. So I sewed on two velcro attachment points on ours to hold a PLB and a strobe. We also have two teathers on each PFD to attach to each other and also our dog, Radar who has his own PFD.
I come from a sailing background and never went forward without being tethered. We have inflatables with built in harness, 6' tethers, and plenty of secure attachment points. Jack lines when weather kicked up. I also don't understand why the mfgr's don't add D rings or pockets for PLB or strobe.

I think the riskiest spot on a trawler is the swim platform. Gate stays closed when props are turning.
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Old 06-18-2019, 02:22 PM   #12
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At the risk of going off on a tangent, here's something to add next to the ladder.

We often think about having a ladder to reboard a boat when we fall in. Question, what's your plan to deal with a knot current when trying to get back to the ladder? In the Scuba diving charter business we call it a Tag line. Basically it's a 1/2" polypropylene rope (because it floats) with a 12" poly ball fender on the end. The idea is that it gives you something to hang on to, catch your breath, and pull yourself back to the boat. I deploy mine when I anchor. Its attached to a cleat above the swim platform ladder. The line is about 30' long. Have also found it very useful when returning by dingy or kayak. Grab the line and gently pull yourself to the swim platform as opposed to crashing into a pitching platform. While the line diameter can be smaller or larger, 1/2" is a good size for most people to pull on.

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Old 06-18-2019, 02:27 PM   #13
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Mine came with one....
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:08 PM   #14
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Ok, I went and took some photos of my setup. I have a 3/4Ē line spliced to the ladder and goes over the edge of the platform. I made a strap from 1Ē Sunbrella webbing and put a snap that snaps onto the edge of the platform. The snap keeps the line in place so that it is reachable from the water. I put a back splice in the end of the line so it is easier to hold onto and the back splice keeps the strap from falling off the line.
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:09 PM   #15
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At the risk of going off on a tangent, here's something to add next to the ladder.

We often think about having a ladder to reboard a boat when we fall in. Question, what's your plan to deal with a knot current when trying to get back to the ladder? In the Scuba diving charter business we call it a Tag line. Basically it's a 1/2" polypropylene rope (because it floats) with a 12" poly ball fender on the end. The idea is that it gives you something to hang on to, catch your breath, and pull yourself back to the boat. I deploy mine when I anchor. Its attached to a cleat above the swim platform ladder. The line is about 30' long. Have also found it very useful when returning by dingy or kayak. Grab the line and gently pull yourself to the swim platform as opposed to crashing into a pitching platform. While the line diameter can be smaller or larger, 1/2" is a good size for most people to pull on.

Ted

We do that also but we use a throwable PFD as the float. Works great.
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:44 PM   #16
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I mounted one of these under my swim platform.
I hate to admit it but I did fall overboard once while washing the deck barefoot. It was easy to swim to the stern, deploy the ladder and climb aboard. Without the ladder Iíd probably still be swimming.
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Old 06-18-2019, 03:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by FoxtrotCharlie View Post
I'm going to install one of the 'under swim deck' slide-out extendable ladders - 4 step would take it almost 4' under water when extended. Can't hurt, and could be a life saver. Under $100.
I have one; works just fine. EXCEPT: the factory engineered restraining strap tends to unfasten itself when underway. I've dragged it for hours--no damage, except to my self-esteem. A knife and a bungee solved the issue.
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:10 PM   #18
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I can't access ABYC without a membership but I vaguely remember the standard cited in our survey included the requirement that you must be able to deploy a re-boarding ladder while in water.

I bought one like HopCar posted that mounts under the swim platform for that very reason.
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:38 PM   #19
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I didn't want to derail the other thread that's floating around on a dockside boarding ladder. But I do want to pick people's brains about boarding ladders.

I'm talking about something permanently in place that can be released and used by someone in the water. I shamelessly borrowed these pics from a member (I hope you don't mind). I think this is a very smart idea, but I'm curious what others do.

Rope ladders, hard folding ladders...good ideas welcome.

Thirty years ago I fell overboard in at Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica. One second I was climbing aboard from the Avon dinghy, the next I was underwater. It was funny at first, & then it wasn't. It wasn't my boat. The boat belonged to one of my students & her husband, & we were on the way to Panama, where I was going to help crew through the Canal. The immediate problem was that I could not get myself either back onto the dinghy--not enough upper body strength, nor could I hoist myself on board the sailboat. The boarding ladder ladder was one of those PVC thingies held together with line--fully functional above the waterline, but below it hugged the hull, & again I hadn't the strength to hoist myself to up out of the water to gain sufficient height to make the deck. I was never in any real danger because we were at anchor close enough to shore I could have swum there & the skipper could have met me there with the dinghy & picked me up for another try at the boarding ladder from a better angle. As it was, with both of us out of breath, he was finally able to give a mighty heave & hoisted he out of the water into the Avon & I boarded the boat embarrassed, but laughing so hard I think I peed my swimsuit. Nevertheless, I realized how dangerous the situation it could have been. Immediately on my return to my home port I did two things: 1) had my skipper order a sturdy custom stainless hinged boarding ladder for our boat that dropped several feet into the water so no one would ever have a problem boarding our boat from the water; 2) wrote an article discussing my overboard experience for a boating magazine so that others might avoid my problem. My advice ever since 1989 is never, no never depend on anything but a stable long underwater boarding ladder.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:33 PM   #20
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I mounted one of these under my swim platform.
I hate to admit it but I did fall overboard once while washing the deck barefoot. It was easy to swim to the stern, deploy the ladder and climb aboard. Without the ladder Iíd probably still be swimming.
Yep, that's what I'm installing on our 30 yr old swim platform
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