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Have the rigid aluminum sail step. Expensive but worth it.

Most common issue with balance has nothing to do with vestibular troubles. Yes, inner ear troubles will cause balance troubles but that’s much less common than the nearly inevitable loss of proprioception with aging. You have a very complex feed back loop between a host of afferent neurons ( sensory neurons) and efferent motor neurons. The afferent neurons tell your spinal cord, brain, brain stem exactly the position of your limbs, angles sub tended by your joints, pressure on your skin (including your soles), tension in your muscles. That sensory knowledge in total supplies proprioception. It allows you to type without looking at your hands, or manipulate an object with your eyes closed. But it also allows you to walk, stand and keep your head still on a rocking boat. Your vestibular system supplies your relationship to gravity and your eyes to the horizon.
The longest neurons in your body are to your feet. In the average man they are 3’ long. As you age they die first. So balance goes south.
The reason the rigid sail step is better than the soft fender step is the hard rigid step gives better input to proprioception. Similarly just touching something with your hand dramatically helps your balance. Proprioceptive nerves from your hands are much shorter than from your feet. Same reason canes help. Not just to lead on but rather to get that input from your hands.
I tell people to brush the top of the house or the lifeline as they move about. Any input enhancing proprioception really helps them. I have no thick rugs on the boat as hard surfaces helps.
Falls are big deal. Sit on your ass and wait until your feet touch the dock to get off. Go up/down stairs and ladders facing the treads. Always have your free hand touching or holding on to some part of the boat. Ive sailed with 80+ year olds. They’re safe and fine. They use their brains to be safe.
 

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Has anyone used fender steps? Any opinions?

PLASTIMO
2-Step Ladder Fender





FenderStep™
My experience with the Platismo step is that you need to make sure the lines to the step are pretty near verticals. If they are at much of an angle then the step can rip near the base of the attachment points. Pretty quickly too.

We have these other type of step that we think works better.

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/doyle-marine--one-step-quickstep-boarding-step--P005_158_001_523

You can cascade them, one hanging in another. Still need to be careful they don’t roll under your foot, not generally a problem. The steps are pretty rugged and you can replace the rope. Personally I like them better.
 

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I got dizzy trying to pronounce that! (Darn doctors)

But maybe this is why we like the hard step better?

proprioception (Thankyou to Wiki)

is the sense of self-movement and body position.[3] It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense".[4]

Proprioception is mediated by proprioceptors, mechanosensory neurons located within muscles, tendons, and joints.[5] There are multiple types of proprioceptors which are activated during distinct behaviors and encode distinct types of information: limb velocity and movement, load on a limb, and limb limits. Vertebrates and invertebrates have distinct but similar modes of encoding this information
 

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We have the fender two step. It attaches to the stanchions or toe rails. Perfect for what we need.
 

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We have the fender two step. It attaches to the stanchions or toe rails. Perfect for what we need.
Thanks for the vote. My wife is quite short and sometimes has difficulty climbing aboard boats we charter. It occured to me it might not be a bad thing to bring one of these along.
 

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Senior accessible boats should have sugar scoops with a boarding line hanging from the davits. :)
 

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At 76, I have one big pain that travels around my body but not staying in one place too long.
This week I installed an anchor roller that required me to put a bolt through the deck in the forward most point of the bow. The cursing would have impressed you and the next day I was sore as hell. But I now have a new anchor on a roller and junked the rusting hulk that was bleeding all over the deck.
When I was 50 I decided I needed something to ward off dementia, so I took up cello playing. Right now I'm learning a concerto, playing in a chamber ensemble and playing in a community orchestra. My cognitive function seems as good as ever. This cello playing seems to feed two important factors; learning something new and staying in contact with others. I honestly think there is nothing quite as mentally tasking as playing in a string quartet and striving to attain the highest level of performance a group of amateurs can achieve.
My wife stopped sailing after her second MOES surgery for melanoma. My sailing partner dropped dead from a sudden heart attack last fall. So now I'm pondering sailing to the Bahamas. Just don't know if I can be away from the cello that long.
 

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We leave the hydrovane support tubing up. Hang a Jacobs ladder from the top of it. We have a sugar scoop. When moored stern to to a fixed pier find this setup really helps. Everyone seems concerned about the boats deck being higher then the pier. Having it lower by several feet is just as difficult and fairly common when Med moored or in a commercial harbor which don’t usually have floating docks.
 

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........Having it lower by several feet is just as difficult and fairly common when Med moored....
Can be spendy to get a good lightweight version, but this is what passerelles are for. Bulky too, but I'd lash one to the rail, if I thought I was going to need to med moor frequently.

The bottom step of our sugar scoop is a very comfortable step up from the dinghy tube. Easier said than done in a choppy anchorage, but generally, it's just like walking in the house. My 80yr old Father can still do it, but I'd never imagine him negotiating any of the hung ladders mentioned above.
 

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Most commonly there’s a 3-4’ drop pretty much straight down. Even with fenders there’s just a few inches from the back edge of the boat and the concrete surface of the dock. We’ve tried various forms of passserelles as well as simple ramps using our fender boards. They just don’t work. Maybe it would be fine on a 60’+ yacht but on a 46’ sailboat our setup seems more practical and there’s no storage issue. Problem is a rapid drop in a short distance. Other choice is to bypass the sugar scoop and run the passerelle from dock to aft deck. Then you need a long one and they’re hard to store.
Have seen other cruisers take their dinghies off the davits. Then med moor with the davits hanging just over the edge of the dock. Secure the dinghy ladder they use when snorkeling or tie a simple step ladder to the davits and sugar scoop.
 

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Discussion Starter #172
Not many med mooring situation in the USA. It's usually a floating dock which is about 18-24" above the water... or a fixed dock which will vary with the tides. In NPT for example the tide range is 8' so it's a climb even with sailboat with a high free board. NPT has ladders attached to the dock for this purpose.

The more coming boarding is from a floating dock and the a sailboat this means about 3' to 5' (or more) to get from deck to dock. 12" riser of a ladder is negotiable without difficulty. The SailStep has 2 - ~15" risers and it's quite stable.. much more so that a fender ladder would be.

A small folding stair would work. Someone needs to design it. It would have to be small enough when folded to be easily stowed. A railing is likely needed for stability (for some and at some times).

+++

I board from my stern ladder (stern to) during in water winter storage... east peasy and the pulpit provides a good hand hold.
 

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....Other choice is to bypass the sugar scoop and run the passerelle from dock to aft deck. Then you need a long one and they’re hard to store.....
It's the only way to do so, really. Few boats have a better place than lashing to the lifelines. I'd only do so, if cruising an area where it was routinely necessary.
 
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