Please select your home edition
Edition
Fremantle to Bali Race 728x90

Ten Tips for choosing the right boarding ladder

by Sail-World Cruising on 15 Aug 2012
Boarding Ladders - photo by West Marine .. .
Every boat of a certain size needs a boarding ladder. But choosing the right boarding ladder for your boat could make a critical difference to your life on the water some time in the future.

Here are ten tips to help you make the right decisions:



1. Firstly it's only the very strong-armed who can pull themselves up the side of a boat of any size without some assistance, either from above, or from a boarding ladder. So when choosing a boarding ladder it's an excellent idea to work out a way of releasing it from in the water. While it may be useless in a stormy sea, it can nevertheless be useful in calm or enclosed waters, especially if you are on your own. One good method of doing this is to have the boarding ladder set into a swim board, but this involves stern mounting, which raises another issue.

2. Boat ladders must extend below the level of the water to be effective. Ladders with at least 2-3 rungs below the surface are the best, but this means they must either fold or be removed when underway.

3. Ladders should be mounted so that the steps extend far enough into the water to make climbing aboard as easy as possible and at a spot that's convenient for boarding. For example, stern ladders are quite common on sailboats, but this is frequently where the motion of the boat is the greatest. On sailboats with a fixed pushpit, a better place may be on the side, near the cockpit, where the lifeline gate is located.

4. Comfort and security is important, particularly for those less athletic. Broad, nonskid treads are better than 1' stainless tubing, which can be remarkably painful under bare feet for some people.

5. Finger and toe security is also important, so the best ladders are those that stand off away from the side of the hull, because that provides clearance for small digits.

6. Side rails that extend above deck level provide a handy place to grab.

7. Construction is another decision. You'll probably have to decide between stainless-steel, aluminum or plastic. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive, while stainless-steel looks better and is stronger. Plastic treads are fine and are quite comfortable.

8. Whether you decide on a removable or fixed ladder depends greatly on the type of sailing boat:
Swim step ladders hang down from swim steps and usually fold up on top of the step. Since the swim step is so much lower than the side of the boat, these ladders generally need only 1-3 steps.
Transom ladders hinge up and down and generally match the appearance of the pushpit.
Removable ladders fit in brackets bolted to the hull or deck. The brackets have keyhole slots that hold the ladder securely, yet allow it to be removed quickly for storage.
Many ladders fold in half so they can be left in place without dragging in the water. They can be used while folded when boarding from a dinghy and extended when swimming. They are also easier to stow.

9. Rope ladders are flexible, collapsible and lightweight, but they're not ideal as a primary ladder because their flexibility makes them difficult to climb. Try in calm water before you rely on them as your sole reboarding method.

10. Finally, how to choose the right sized ladder:
First measure the height of the freeboard to the water, you then should plan to have 2 rungs / steps beyond this distance. Depending on where it is placed, this could be a long ladder and so most are designed to fold or be easily storable.

There is another issue to consider - can you get back into your dinghy unaided? If you can't then maybe you need to consider a some kind of ladder for that too!

InSunSport - NZnavathome 660x82Festival of Sails 2017 660x82

Related Articles

2014 J/24 World Championship - Will Welles’ Cougar clinches
Welles had used his throw-out on Thursday, so the only way to assure a win was to stay ahead. 2014 J/24 World Championship - With just a few points between Will Welles Cougar (USA) and Mauricio Santa Cruz Bruschetta (BRA) there was no room for error in the final two races of the 2014 J/24 World Championship hosted by Sail Newport.
Posted on 27 Sep 2014
J/24 World Championship - Will Welles hangs on going into last day
The Race Committee chose to sail inside north of the Newport Bridge for races seven and eight of the 2014 J/24 Worlds. With marginal conditions and diminishing visibility on the ocean course, the Race Committee chose to sail inside north of the Newport Bridge for races seven and eight of the 2014 J/24 World Championship hosted by Sail Newport. Will Welles’ Cougar (USA) sailed his throw-out in race seven but came back with a solid six in race eight to hold onto the lead with a total score of 31 points.
Posted on 26 Sep 2014
2014 J/24 World Championship - Will Welles holds advantage
After a struggle to set the line square to the shifting wind, the fleet got off two more races at 2014 J/24 World Champ 2014 J/24 World Championship - After a struggle to set the line square to the shifting wind, the fleet got off two more races at the 2014 J/24 World Championship hosted by Sail Newport. Will Welles’ Cougar (USA) held the lead with a four, four respectively for a total score of 16 points.
Posted on 25 Sep 2014
2014 J/24 World Championship - Will Welles takes lead
Teams battled today in more stable sea conditions on ocean course in wind speeds from 10 to 14 knots out of southwest. 2014 J/24 World Championship - After a morning postponement ashore, the fleet got off two more races at the 2014 J/24 World Championship hosted by Sail Newport. Will Welles’ Cougar (USA) moved to the lead with a nine, one respectively.
Posted on 24 Sep 2014
J/24 Worlds - Opening day leaves two teams tied on points for lead
Newport, Rhode Island welcomed 70 teams from around the globe with wind and waves on the first of five days 2014 J/24 World Championship - Newport, Rhode Island welcomed 70 teams from around the globe with wind and waves on the first of five days at the 2014 J/24 World Championship. The top of the fleet saw some familiar names but also some fresher faces. Mark Hillman’s Sokokumaru (USA) and Vernon Robert’s Gringa DC (Chile) are tied at five points, with Hillman having the first-place advantage thanks to
Posted on 23 Sep 2014
World's tiniest PLB now certified for use
Ocean Signal's rescueME PLB1, the tiniest PLB in the world, is now certified for use and will launch in Oz in April The tiniest PLB in the world, introduced to the sailing world in January, has now been fully certified for use throughout Europe and the USA after being awarded relevant COSPAS-SARSAT and product approvals. The product will be available in Australia after launching in the next couple of weeks.
Posted on 5 Apr 2013
Low DSC connect rate-Sailor irresponsibility or technological failure?
Is the low take-up of available DSC connection to radio because of sailor irresponsibility, or is it more complex? Recently we published a story about how few yachts had their Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipped VHF radio connected to their GPS so that their position would be recorded in an emergency. The tone of the article suggested that the low take-up was an indication of the irresponsibility of sailors, but responses to Sail-World after the article suggest that the situation is more complex than this
Posted on 27 Mar 2011
Sailor's aid or sailor's nightmare - the tides explained
It's not surprising if you don't exactly understand tides - it took a lot of figuring out over the ages As sailors, we all know that tides come twice a day, vary according to the moon, and, depending on where you are sailing are either unimportant, reasonably important, or critically important to a successful completion of your voyage. But why the moon? and if the moon only circles the earth once a day, why are there two tides? Here, Grant Headifen of Nauticed, explains
Posted on 18 Sep 2010
AIS - a major navigation advance
AIS receiver allows leisure vessels to pick up the signal and IDENTIFY ships well over the horizon ‘Greatest thing since sliced bread!’ That was the pronouncement of Sydney sailor Ian Potter of Sundancer II. He was talking about an AIS (Automatic Identification System) Receiver. Sundancer has had a chance to try out this brand new technology on their way across the Indian Ocean in the last couple of months.
Posted on 5 May 2007
The Necessary Sextant and How to Choose It
However, what happens if the computer crashes at sea? Worse, seawater fouls the instruments?You need a sextant! GPS’s have sneaked under the guard of ancient mariners, making their wonderful navigation skills almost a thing of the past. Sailors set out on journeys across the world with no skills but how to read the GPS and Cmap. Where once the ocean mariner used vigilance and good seamanship to weather storms and miss the rocky bits, now satellite telephones and helicopters give the hesitant sailor the confidence to go where no bad seafarer should be.
Posted on 16 Jun 2006