Boarding ladder length

Formaldehyde

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I am thinking of fitting a stainless ladder mounted on the toe-rail of a yacht which folds up outside the lifelines, similar to the one in the picture.
Question is, what is the best length - room enough for the dinghy to fit underneath and against the hull, or all the way to the water so the dinghy lies outside against the ladder?
Have never used one before, so comments welcome.
Thanks
Riccardo
 

Lakesailor

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- room enough for the dinghy to fit underneath and against the hull,
If your boat rolls in wash or chop like mine does that is a recipe for disaster. Very difficult to put your foot on the appropriate rung as well. Crushed feet.

I'm just about to go out to my little boat to make a template for a short ladder/step to hang over the gunwhale that you will have to step up to, but will be out of the way of the banging and bashing of the tender. Just for transferring from the tender, not as a recovery device.
 

johnalison

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If it is going to be your only ladder, it would be as well to make it long enough for recovery from the water, if only as a swimming-ladder. The rail is actually a better place to board anyway, as the motion at the stern tends to be greater. My preference would be somewhere in the quarter.
 

Fr J Hackett

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If it's a folding ladder mount it so that at least one rung is below the water when it's unfolded, the more the better for climbing out of the sea and getting some access to the prop and shaft at sea if you have to ie clearing a fouled prop or in my case mounting and taking off the Hydrovane rudder:(
 

VicS

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Last year i fitted a folding boarding ladder to the transom of by boat . I did it because I capsized my dinghy while getting in it the previous summer and found it very difficult to climb back on board. :mad:
To get on a ladder from the water it must extend well ( 3 rungs) into the water.

To aid climbing between boat and dinghy I have bought one of these

10532839_2.jpg


It reaches to the waterline or thereabouts. Its a useful fender to have between boat and dinghy but when actually using it I flip it inside the dinghy.

As a ladder it is far from ideal but once used to it and its limitations it has made the climb in and out of the dinghy much easier.


If you do fit a folding ladder on the side it must either be well above the dinghy gunwhale .. then it'll be difficult to climb onto. Or it must go at least down to the water line so that the dinghy will lie along side it. Fendering the dinghy may then be a problem.

Folding ladders in chandlers seem to be of a remarkable poor quality. ( and expensive)
 

Seajet

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From hard-earned experience just a couple of weeks ago when I managed to invert my tender, ladders should definitely be deep enough to get a good foot-hold deep under water; I might well go for a 2 part ladder hinged at the lower end and folding up the height of the pushpit.

It's true that a side mounted ladder will get less dangerous motion, but will it be there when you need it ?!

The ladders' hinged part should also be releasable from the water, and beware it fouling a transom hung rudder in 'up' position.

The swimming step I've happily used many times was completely unaissailable when in heavy wet clothes; also I've found several tenders hooked under the gunwales by other people's boarding ladders, the 'against rather than under' approach seems sensible in view of this too.
 

Searush

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If it is going to be your only ladder, it would be as well to make it long enough for recovery from the water, if only as a swimming-ladder. The rail is actually a better place to board anyway, as the motion at the stern tends to be greater. My preference would be somewhere in the quarter.

I'll go with that. You need a ladder to go at least 2 rungs into the water if you want to use it to get back aboard from the water. I have a telescopic ladder that fastens to the life rail & can be released from the water. Yes, the dinghy does berth alongsid the ladder.
 

Martin_J

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Not exactly the answer to your question but I have a 'fender ladder'. It is left on the coachroof, has a permanent short strop between the top corners and just hangs over the midships cleat when needed.

They are availabe in two, three and four step versions as shown mid-way down this link...

http://www.seamarknunn.com/acatalog/Ladders-Gangways.html

They are a lot firmer than they look and being slightly soft tend to grip the side of the boat so never swing side to side as you might expect. I use the two step version every day!

They would also not damage a dinghy but I have not tried climbing it from water level. Mine is just the right height for marina pontoons.

(Edit:- VicS beat me to it whilst I typed!)
 
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Seajet

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I'm very tempted to get something like this as at least a stop-gap until next winter ashore when more permanent things can be fitted;

Lalizas5step-big.jpg


In my experience ladders have to be rigid; flexible jobs shoot away from one under the boat - and the rungs need to extend as deep as possible.

A portable job like this would have to be rigged or at least to hand to be any use; remember there will be times one is getting on or off the boat alone, in the dark...
 
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Stu Jackson

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This thread just gave me an idea. We need a better way to leave & get back on board to and from the dinghy.

We have a stern ladder with an extender step that goes under water for being able to get back from swimming. (No ladder that doesn't go underwater by at least one rung or more will be very difficult to use to get out of the water.) But I have been looking for a side ladder too because the stern ladder makes it hard to get in an out of the dinghy. Given the suggestions about shorter ladders, now I can find a side ladder with short rungs to use just for the dinghy. We rarely go swimming in conditions where using the stern ladder would preclude getting back on board.

Yes, I know it's not a great solution for man overboard recovery, but that's another story.

Thanks for the idea.
 

Tranona

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If it is for boarding from the dinghy then the type that hooks into plates on the deck has much to commend it. I have three sets of plates, one each side toward the rear and one midships for climbing on from the pontoon (high freeboard boat). For getting out of the water fold down from sugar scoop. 3 rungs below waterline.
 

electrosys

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To get out of the water - if you're catering for 6 foot mortals, then you need the bottom rung to be at least 4 ft below the water, unless you know people with knee joints that fold forwards. And remember that you'll weight several extra stones, so the ladder needs to be very strong. Any recovery system really needs to be tried (using the heaviest person you know) under controlled conditions.
 

Searush

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To get out of the water - if you're catering for 6 foot mortals, then you need the bottom rung to be at least 4 ft below the water, unless you know people with knee joints that fold forwards. And remember that you'll weight several extra stones, so the ladder needs to be very strong. Any recovery system really needs to be tried (using the heaviest person you know) under controlled conditions.

Not true, just 18" will do, put your knee on the lowest rung & pull yourself up until vertical, then you should be able to get your other foot on the same rung, then simply climb like any ladder. I can do it & I am 64, 13st & not particularly fit. Some may struggle, but anyone in reasonable condition shouldn't have a problem. I reckon I can still do with my cast on, but I'm not supposed to get it wet so I haven't tried.
 

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Just made one for some friends (twice fallen in the river) Used 25x2mm SS tube and it is really strong. Bottom 50cm folds with two steps under water. As it is only for emergency use and on the river, it will be (this p.m.) fitted mid transom on a small cabin mobo. Interesting to see others take on the situation.I like those soft ones.
 

Formaldehyde

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Thanks for all your posts - as usual very helpful and food for thought.
To give some background, the boat is a Malo 36 which has already a swim platform with a long boarding ladder with 3 steps underwater and has a quick release which operates even from in the water so getting on board from the water is sorted.
We find that boarding the swim platform from the dinghy is awkward if there is a swell due to the movement of the stern, and also because there is a large Solas raft mounted to one side on the platform.
The folding ladder arrangement mounted just after of the centreline I have seen on an American boat, and it looked very neat. I didn't see it in action, but it looked that it was long enough to just touch the water, and I just wondered if it made more sense to have the bottom step above the dinghy tube and the dinghy resting on the hull, or have the ladder longer and the dinghy resting against the ladder.
Many thanks for your posts, a bit more research is needed I think, but will report back on the results.
 

electrosys

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Not true, just 18" will do, put your knee on the lowest rung & pull yourself up until vertical, then you should be able to get your other foot on the same rung, then simply climb like any ladder. I can do it & I am 64, 13st & not particularly fit. Some may struggle, but anyone in reasonable condition shouldn't have a problem. I reckon I can still do with my cast on, but I'm not supposed to get it wet so I haven't tried.

Put your knee on a rung - maybe on a bucking boat in a chop ? Pull yourself up with your arms when weighing an extra 3 stone ? Ok - so how do you get your other foot onto the same rung - unless you're double-jointed or a yoga expert ? It might be possible in warm water under calm conditions, but how about in freezing cold water in a bad blow ?

My comment is based on first-hand experience. 6'4" / 17st and fit enough.

BTW - the most easily climbable recovery ladder is not like a conventional ladder design, but has a central pole with rungs projecting to either side. http://www.techdivetools.com/boat/ladders.html , who say 3-4ft underwater - I say at least that for ease of use - bear in mind that when in the water, you're immersed up to the neck. So where are your toes then - 5 feet away !
It's also useful to have something above the ladder to hang on to when you finally emerge from the water.
 

Searush

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Put your knee on a rung - maybe on a bucking boat in a chop ? Pull yourself up with your arms when weighing an extra 3 stone ? Ok - so how do you get your other foot onto the same rung - unless you're double-jointed or a yoga expert ? It might be possible in warm water under calm conditions, but how about in freezing cold water in a bad blow ?

My comment is based on first-hand experience. 6'4" / 17st and fit enough.

BTW - the most easily climbable recovery ladder is not like a conventional ladder design, but has a central pole with rungs projecting to either side. http://www.techdivetools.com/boat/ladders.html , who say 3-4ft underwater - I say at least that for ease of use - bear in mind that when in the water, you're immersed up to the neck. So where are your toes then - 5 feet away !
It's also useful to have something above the ladder to hang on to when you finally emerge from the water.

Diving IS a very specific situation, have you ever tried climbing a ladder with flippers on? That's why the central pole design is important. In additon, one has tanks & a weight belt on, definitely not your average MoB. 3 stone extra for wet clothes? That's 42lbs, or over 4 gallons of water in your clothes? I don't see that happening unless you decide to tie something around your waist & ankles to retain water in your oilies.

In normal waterproofs, it is easy to lift yourself enough to get a knee on the step - ESPECIALLY if there is a swell or chop raising & lowering both you & the boat at different times. Wait a second while excess water drains away, and it does, doesn't it? Then just climb. If you can't kneel on one leg & one foot (it used to be a standard shooting position!) then you must be unfit & will indeed find it hard to get your foot on the same rung as your knee.

I know, I have done it.
 

electrosys

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Diving IS a very specific situation, have you ever tried climbing a ladder with flippers on? That's why the central pole design is important. In additon, one has tanks & a weight belt on, definitely not your average MoB.
No - this style is not restricted to diving - yacht designers who are more concerned with safety rather than fashionable looks (such as Brent Swain) specify this style of ladder as standard. Diving takes place only under moderate conditions, whereas MOB situations frequently occur when conditions are very bad, where this style of ladder excels.

Regarding length - don't take just my word for it - the KIM webbing MOB ladder (complies with the MCA Code of Practice requirements for MOB recovery equipment) is 2.4m long - that's 8 feet. Allow (say) 3 feet about the water, and that still leaves 5ft below.
Some may struggle, but anyone in reasonable condition shouldn't have a problem.
If you can't kneel on one leg & one foot (it used to be a standard shooting position!) then you must be unfit & will indeed find it hard to get your foot on the same rung as your knee. I know, I have done it.

I think to focus only on what you are able to do yourself and form a specification for MOB equipment based on that is rather selfish - the person in the water may be old, infirm, seriously unfit, or even pregnant - or are you suggesting that such people need not be catered for ?
 

Seajet

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Sorry, Searush,

but I'm 100% with the people advocating a rigid ladder extending well below water level.

I'm 49 & fairly fit, and wasn't over-clothed when I went into the water recently; the step at water level was impossible alone, I ended up being pulled into the cockpit after a great struggle by my very fit chum - alone, a non starter, but if I'd had a decent rigid ladder extending deep enough to get a foot hold on, it would be different, I think.

Remember it's not just the weight of sodden clothes, the trousers tend to vastly restrict movement of one's legs.

Please see the 'Are your Topsides Climbable ?' thread, on this forum.
 

TQA

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It is definitely something that you should have a trail run with. jump in wearing your foul weather gear and check that you can get back on board using your ladder.

I single hand sometimes and one of the first things I added to Elephants Child was a set of stern steps with a pull down ladder. I can access the ladder from the water and pull it down.

It is about 2 steps deep and as searush says get a knee in and then a foot. BTW I am 6'3" and nobody calls me slim.
 

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