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formerly DWJensen
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posted this on another Cruising Form and didn't get much in the way of responses. Hoping to get more discussion here...


Trying to decide on an emergency/alternate boarding ladder for our IP. We have the original factory transom mount ladder (folding stainless on flat vertical transom), but when the dinghy is up on the davits this ladder is unusable, and in an emergency situation (or even after a quick swim) dropping the dink is not a quick or easy option, especially for one person.

I've looked around some and right now am leaning towards a simple five rung rope and plastic or a multi-loop setup. I know the best method is probably another rigid or folding stainless ladder, but I really don't want to spend that kind of money nor do I want to deal with storing it. I figure a small soft "ladder" will store easily and should be simple and quick to deploy from the base of the side gate stanchions. I understand that non-rigid ladders can be difficult to climb, but figure it shouldn't be too bad on our 38 since most of the ladder will be against the vertical (or nearly so) part of the hull when deployed from a side gate.

Before I spend more money, I'm curious to hear what types other cruisers carry and your experience with them...

Thanks all.
 

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Super Moderator
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4,603 Posts
Ladders off the transom are useless in most situations at sea. If you manage to grab onto a rung as it rises up, you get bashed on the head as the stern comes back down- if you can keep your grip and your wrist, arm, or leg doesn't get tangled in the ladder and broken. A rope ladder rigged midships avoids this problem, but is still not going to be easy to climb. Holding a rigid ladder firmly amidships is a difficult, and as you note, expensive, proposition. Setting it up quickly is an oxymoron. A rope ladder seems to be the best (though not a great) solution. For getting MOB back on the boat, our plan is to use a triangular piece of canvas with two ends lashed along the leeward toerail as a parbuckle. We put the third end outboard of the MOB and attach the running backstay tackle to that so we can lift him on deck.
 

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We have had an emergency rope ladder, one with the plastic rungs, so they were at least firm. It was nearly impossible to climb up in a flat calm anchorage, tied at the shrouds. Tied anywhere else on the boat it was impossible to climb. It had a single attachment point so kept moving side to side and was extremely difficult to get your feet to stay on. I could not imagine trying to climb it if the boat had any kind of motion....we got rid of it and purchased a stainless five rung folding ladder with hold offs. It works extremely well. Stores on the rail in the cockpit until needed.
In my opinion those rope ladders are a waste of money and space.
That is my experience for what its worth.
 

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I sail some little Capri 16.5s that have rope ladders over the stern that we use for getting back in after a COB drill. These boats have maybe 16" of freeboard and a lot of people have trouble getting back in with the rope ladder.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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3,688 Posts
I installed a telescoping, fold up ladder on the transom. To get it down if swimming, I installed a snap shackle with a line that can be reached from the water. Getting in from the transom in a pitching sea would likely be very difficult but I figure it's better than nothing and adrenalin would probably facilitate getting up it. The transom is also the place you'd end up if going over on either side. A side ladder would be easier to climb but presents its own problems. You also need one on both sides. I used to have a rope ladder off the side but using a non-solid foothold seemed dicier than a fixed ladder off the stern. The solution to this problem is simple: STAY ON THE BOAT:) Tether.
 

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The singular reeason why rope ladeders don;t work well is becaue they disappear around the hull shape and whe you put your foot on the tread it is alreayd under the boat.

So whilst I haven't tried one, a rope ladder with treads widening as they go down may hold some answers with the inside edge of the tread against the hull thus providing support without disappearing under the boat. This would help while the boat is level and stable. But if the sea is rough and the boat is heaved too and you're on the leeward side (most likely), the whole boat is leaning over you and climbing up a ladder would always be hard. For these reasons I dispute that a side mounted ladder is better. It's always going to be a mission to climb.

On the flip side of the heaved-to argument is the fact that when heaved to the boat isn't pitching anywere near as much as if it were headed into the waves and a stern-mounted ladder becomes more plausible. This is and would remain my choice until a better solution is postulated.

Thankfully, I have never had to try either one and will work really hard at keeping it that way.
 
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