I guess it depends on how much the boat tends to pitch... if the boat doesn't tend to hobby horse or pitch much, a stern ladder might be okay... but a lot of smaller boats tend to pitch quite a bit in any kind of seas...and that would make getting back aboard in anything but near calm conditions very difficult.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.