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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When we moved from a floating home in Oregon to a house on land near San Diego* part of the plan was to buy a boat and keep it in the SD bay. Well that has not gone so well. At first we got sticker shock on the cost of a slip - nearly a magnitude more than what we were used to in Oregon! Then we chocked down our shock and started shopping for a boat.
Now, river cruising in Oregon is done in power boats unless you really want to suffer. There are a great many destinations with cheap or free docking, beautiful scenery, mushroom hunting, etc, etc. Down here in SD the only two things I can see to do with a power boat are fishing and sitting in the marina getting drunk. Neither has much appeal to us.
But this place looks like a nice place to sail. I sailed quite a bit in the 1980s - everything from 21' club boats to crewing on a large schooner - but barely remember it. And I was much more fit and agile back then.
I've been looking at sailboats on the computer and we have looked at a couple in person, have chartered a couple, and have taken a lesson on a 37' Beneteau. And we've come across a couple of problems.

Probably the biggest problem is actually climbing on/off of the boat. As I said, we're not as agile as we were and we have found that larger boats are easier to get around on. An older Cal 35 (I think) was barely OK in the bay, but an absolute no on the ocean waves. The 37' Beneteau was a bit easier going forward, but still not what I would feel comfortable doing on the ocean. We sailed on a 44' Nauticat which was a huge improvement. I felt quite comfortable going forward on that boat. The side decks were flat and wide and clear. But the seller changed her mind and we did not buy the boat.

Believe it or not, we can handle that big, heavy, 44' schooner-rigged Nauticat just fine. And probably any smaller boat with the lines run to the cockpit. But boats large enough for us to feel confident on have very high freeboard and getting on/off of them is of great concern to us. Of course the boat will have dock steps next to the slip where we keep it. That isn't the problem. The problem is when you want to dock elsewhere. We could only ever sail out of our own slip (rather inhibiting) and we could even get the boat pumped out in the slip by a mobile pumping service. But we're still going to have to visit the fuel pier from time to time and we may want to go elsewhere someday.

I'm 66 right now and hope to have at least 10 years of sailing ahead of me. I know some of you will go on about how a healthy guy can sail into his 80s - with the implication that if I can't do it while scampering about on a 32 foot racing boat with hanked on sails that I shouldn't be doing it at all. But I'm really not asking those people. Nor am I asking the kids (that's pretty much anyone under 50) who have not yet felt what aging is really like. I'm asking those of you who are closer to normal and who are sailing in your 70s. And who are trying not to break an ankle or leg because that might end your sailing days forever. Etc. How do you get on/off your boat when away from your dock steps and without hurting yourself? And what other issues should I be considering?

Thanks!
 

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I am 75 and have "mobility" issues. Sailing on my boat is 99% sedentary... or kneeling on a cockpit seat to cranks a winch. Roller furling so no sail changes... anchor windlass with all chain with bow foot switches and cockpit to raise and lower. I would not single hand anymore under any circumstances. I can't walk fast and I can't move far...but I can walk! With bad news I can't run or jump off the boat to a dock. But don't have to do that with someone else aboard. Boat is for sale...but will use it for a long mini cruise or two this summer until it is sold.
 

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And what other issues should I be considering?
About your age and we sail as a couple. The things we've been thinking about or have started doing are:

  • How to get quick medical help when not in a marina.
  • We are frequently tethered because a single handed MOB rescue is not something we want to try.
  • At what point should we have an Automated external defibrillator (AED) on board?
 

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Boarding is not much problem, there are a couple of varieties of that hanging step posted above.

I notice people have trouble with my bridge deck, they can’t lift their leg high enough.

As you sailand get accustomed to the boat things will get easier both from familiarity and just being on a boat limbers you up. It is a great exercise, lots of very small movements to keep you going. For me being in a boat is a tonic.

71 and 69 liveaboards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's not so much my current condition, it's ten or more years from now when we will be 76 and 81. If we buy a boat now, it will be our last one and I want to be able to use it at the end of the ten years, too.
 

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That step in the Amazon link is discontinued, but I'll look around. Maybe I should get one and try it out on a rental boat.
It's called sailstep... google it... you can buy direct from the guy the invented and manufactures it.


 

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Look at boats with a sugar scoop stern / swim platform.
In the marina bring it stern in and you have a very easy entry / exit, no climbing. It's also great to get into from a dinghy.

Mark
 

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My wife has bad knees and our boat has high freeboard, so we have a fender step that we put out when we have a particularly low dock.

Our boat also has a walk through transom so when I can I stern tie so we can get on and off the boat through the stern. It also makes it much easier to get in and out of the dinghy and our kayaks.


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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My wife has bad knees and our boat has high freeboard, so we have a fender step that we put out when we have a particularly low dock.
This is interesting and I've even seen these with multiple steps. But having seen the video of the person standing on the SailStep as the boat came alongside the dock and then casually stepping off that sure seems like a better solution. If I am wrong, please correct me, but it seems like this fender step would be likely to move around as you are on it and you would probably want to go up/down while facing the boat. That would mean stepping off of a possibly still moving or just barely stopped boat backwards. Probably not a good plan for an 80 year old. Though it's starting to look like I'll be able to solve the 80 year old mobility issues when we get there.

I'm handy and if I can't buy a SailStep anymore, I can certainly make one.

Our boat also has a walk through transom so when I can I stern tie so we can get on and off the boat through the stern. It also makes it much easier to get in and out of the dinghy and our kayaks.
Another vote for backing in. I do like the idea of the easy step to the dock. Before we decided on a sailboat we almost bought a Kadey-Krogen 42 that was backed in to the slip. That was about the easiest boat I've ever boarded.
 

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This is interesting and I've even seen these with multiple steps. But having seen the video of the person standing on the SailStep as the boat came alongside the dock and then casually stepping off that sure seems like a better solution. If I am wrong, please correct me, but it seems like this fender step would be likely to move around as you are on it and you would probably want to go up/down while facing the boat. That would mean stepping off of a possibly still moving or just barely stopped boat backwards. Probably not a good plan for an 80 year old. Though it's starting to look like I'll be able to solve the 80 year old mobility issues when we get there.

I'm handy and if I can't buy a SailStep anymore, I can certainly make one.


Another vote for backing in. I do like the idea of the easy step to the dock. Before we decided on a sailboat we almost bought a Kadey-Krogen 42 that was backed in to the slip. That was about the easiest boat I've ever boarded.
Yes, if your intention is to stand on the step facing out while the boat is under way then some kind of rigid platform step would be better. We don't typically get off the boat while it is still moving. My wife steps off after the boat is stopped.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, if your intention is to stand on the step facing out while the boat is under way then some kind of rigid platform step would be better. We don't typically get off the boat while it is still moving. My wife steps off after the boat is stopped.
Oh no, that wasn't what I meant. Not moving like a circus act. Just slight movement. The way the SailStep looked in the pictures was that the linehandler would step down onto the step as you near the dock, ready to step off at the right time. The right time being just as you come to a stop against the dock and before the wind blows you off again. Because it is going to blow us off again and that moment of complete stop is sometimes brief, so there might be a bit of movement if timing is imperfect.
Stepping off of the SailStep while facing in the direction you are stepping wouldn't seem like a big deal, even with a bit of movement. I guess I had that in mind when thinking about using the fender step.
 

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Look at boats with a sugar scoop stern / swim platform.
In the marina bring it stern in and you have a very easy entry / exit, no climbing. It's also great to get into from a dinghy.

Mark
Even better, one with a fold down helm seat (like mine). No climbing involved.
 

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I know I am probably not typical, but at 75 I have no issues handling my Cal 33-2. I commonly single-hand and cruise with my wife who does have some mobility issues. Boat is on a mooring so getting on and off the launch can be more challenging compared to a dock. Most challenging issue when alone is getting back on the mooring if the wind is up. Sailing with autopilot, roller furling genny, Dutchman system on main, self tailing winches is not a problem.
 
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