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Thread: Boarding Ladders

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
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    2

    Ladder

    I am looking for a good swimming/man overboard ladder to install on my Ariel. I have received some literature from Tops in Quality and have talked with a number of people, all of whom have a slightly different opinion (so I am looking for a few more).
    Please give me some comment/suggestions on ladders that have been successfully installed.
    I would appreciate hearing your experiences.
    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2001
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    Orinda, California
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    I presume you have already reviewed the usual suspects . . . rigid or rope ladders of various designs. One of our computer challenged members has an interesting looking wooden swim-boarding ladder. We've asked for details and will publish them in an upcoming edition of the Association newsletter.

  3. #3
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
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    I have a rigid four step ladder. When I want to use it, I snap it into two mounting brackets on deck. I have the brackets just forward of the Genoa track.

    I dont go for a swim often so I dont use the ladder much. Although the ladder should be readily accessible, it tends to get buried under alot of crap when stored away.

    I always thought that a permanently installed folding ladder off the stern would be a good safety feature. Its not easy to pull yourself back aboard without a ladder if you end up in the drink by yourself.

  4. #4
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    Boarding Ladders

    This thread was originally posted on the Gallery section of this website. A photo of hull #330 "Augustine" under sail was featured. In the photo, the emergency boarding ladder was shown. The ladder was hanging off the starboard rail. Additional photos of the emergency ladder and jacklines now appear in later postings to this boarding ladder thread.
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    Last edited by Scott Galloway; 03-13-2003 at 09:07 PM.
    Scott

  5. #5
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    McHenry, IL, but sail out of Racine WI
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    Scott:

    Is that the ladder we discussed last year tied to the gunwale?

  6. #6
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    Theis,

    Yes, the white cylindrical bundle, which has just washed over the lee (starboard) rail in the photo is the boarding ladder that we discussed last summer. Note that the ladder is attached by carabineers to through-deck-mounted eyebolts, which are tied together by a stainless steel below deck backing plate. These eye-bolts also serve as attachment points for the lifeline system. What is missing from the above photograph is the jackline that secures it in place even when the boat is heeled to 40 degrees and water is coming over the rail.

    The new photo incorporated with this post shows the same ladder with the jackline in place at the dock.

    The jackline runs through a set of two through-deck-mounted pad eyes at the bow and is shackled to through-deck-mounted pad eyes on either side of the cockpit. The jackline makes one continuous run forward on each side of the mast so that I do not have to unclip while going forward.

    A remaining twelve or so feet of the jackline is left over. I run that line forward again from the cockpit on the outside of the lifelines and shrouds, and attach it with two Velcro straps to a lifeline terminal adjacent to the boarding step and to the base of the upper shroud. There is factory-sewn loop on each end of the jackline. It is this section of the jackline that lies across and secures the boarding step to prevent it from washing overboard quite so easily.

    My harness has two safety tethers. One is three feet long, and one is six feet long. They are both connected to the harness with a single snap shackle. I would not normally clip into a conventional lifeline, but my lifelines are not stanchion mounted. They are instead attached to through-deck-mounted hardware at deck level at the bow, and at the boarding step, and also to the pin rail. The pin rail is in turn secured to both lower shrouds. It is therefore possible to safely clip onto a lifeline if so desired. Because the jacklines are inboard, however, they are safer lines to which to attach a harness than are the lifelines. Jackline use offers less chance of falling overboard before the tether stops you, in comparison with clipping onto a lifeline, and particularly so with the three foot tether attached to the windward jackline.

    The jackline makes one continuous run forward so that I do not have to unclip and while going forward.

    The only downside is that it takes a while to rig and unrig the jacklines before and after sails, and they do get wet, so in the autumn and winter, I bring them home to dry them out after a night sail. Likewise for my boarding ladders.

    Now speaking of the boarding ladders, the reason for taking the tail end of the jackline forward again and attaching it to the shrouds with break-away Velcro loops, is that if a person were to fall over forward of the shrouds, that person's tether would not be long enough for him or her to reach the boarding ladders which are on either side adjacent to the cockpit.

    I installed a second snap shackle on my harness belt loop. It can be clipped into the sewn-in end of the jackline that hangs over the gunnels at the location of the upper shroud. Once secured to this loop, the overboard sailor should be able to unclip at the harness from the single shackle that connects the harness to the three and six foot tether and drift back on the jackline tail to the emergency boarding ladder near the cockpit. By the way, the pull-down lanyard for the emergency boarding ladder is suction cupped to the hull, as shown on this photo so that it won't blow back up onto the deck in the wind. As long as the suction cup is wet, it seems to stay fixed on the hull beneath the rub rail during a sail. All of the jacklines and ladder lanyards are yellow, so the safety lines are easily identified as other than sail control lines.

    Finally, the boarding ladders are made from PVC pipe and quarter inch Dacron line. The ladder rungs are made of the PVC pipe, and each rung has a length of line run through it. The material used to wrap and contain the ladder in its stowed (rolled) position is vinyl perforated self-lining material that I purchased inexpensively at a hardware store.
    Scott

  7. #7
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    This photo provides a close-up of Augustine's emergency ladder. The bowline attaching the jackline to the pad eye in the background has been replaced by a bow shackle to speed installation.
    Pulling down on the lanyard releases the Velcro strip on the lanyard holding the boarding causing it to unroll presenting four PVC rungs to the overboard sailor. And no I have not jumped overboard to find out if all of this works, but then again I have not tested my parachute either.
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    Last edited by Scott Galloway; 03-13-2003 at 09:11 PM.
    Scott

  8. #8
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    McHenry, IL, but sail out of Racine WI
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    Nice looking rig, Scott. You've done a neat job.

    But, as to the ladder, the kudos won't come until the boss man takes the plunge into the briney deep and proves his own invention. Then you will get the huzzahs (not that I doubt that it will work, but my confidence is diminished if the boss man hasn't bitten the bullet).

    If the water is cold, then you have the real proof. That way you will be able to prove that you can get out quickly. Just don't do anything that isn't safe.

    (FYI, with my ladder, I too put off testing. Finally, in mid-summer, with 70 degree water, I proved that it works before succumbing to hypothermia).

  9. #9
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    On Pathfinder we always carry a ladder similar to what you have coiled up on the rail. And to answer Theis question we do a recovery drill every year. It is just to dangerous out there not to know how things work. I recall the first time we went through the drill and how difficult we found it to get back on the boat. What we found Scott Was that the ladder has to be hung from two anchor points like you have yours. Our second point was that you needed a handle of some sort to grab on to after you were able to stand on the ladder. What we ended up doing is just secure a loose sheet (main or jib) on a couple of cleats just so there is something to grab on to. Some day you should give it a try, there is a technique.

    One rule we have on Pathfinder if there is someone over board is when we are able to grab our victim the first thing we do is secure them to the boat. Any way, any how, just don't lose them. If we have to we will drag them to some place to get them out of the water. Just don't lose them.........ed

  10. #10
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    I sure agee with Ed about the need for somthing to grab hold of above the deck level. We practiced with our ladder and found that it was just about impossible to get onboard with out a grab rail of some sort.

    A second problem with the rope based ladder that we discovered from the test - it swings under the hull as you attempt to climb up.

    Because of the swinging and the need for a grab rail, we are thinking of getting a rigid ladder that can attach to either side of the boat via deck fittings. Feet on the ladder extend from the side to keep the it away from the hull and the ladder folds small enough to fit easily into one of our cockpit lockers. I believe West Marine's model 4 is the one we are considering.

  11. #11
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    Theis, Ed, and Billl,

    Thanks for the helpful comments, insights, and suggestions. Properly testing of these bright ideas is so important.

    My sure-fire method for helping someone back onboard in an emergency is my Garhauer lifting davit. With a six to one block ratio, a 200 lb wet sailor would take 33 pounds of pull to lift. I have used the lifting davit at sea and it does work. So for a two person crew, once a line is securely around the overboard sailor and clipped onto the Garhauer carabiner, or once that carabiner is clipped onto the sailor's harness, the Garhauer Lifting Davit will permit one person to lift a 200 lb load onto the deck. Just don't jibe or tack while the lifting davit is in place.

    The emergency boarding ladder arrangement is my approach to dealing with the risks facing the singlehander. I sail alone more often than I sail with crew. The system has to work under a variety of conditions, and not merely when the boat is at rest. The ladder has to be accessible by a overboard singlehand sailor without unclipping from his or her harness tether, and must be capable of being deployed on either side of the boat by a sailor in the water.

    A steel or aluminium ladder that has to be attached by a crew member who is on deck doesn't do very much for the single hander who has fallen overboard. Owners of boats with flat transoms can solve this problem with handy fold-down two part metal ladders. I could not visualize one of those working on an Ariel stern.

    Hence the rope-based ladders with PVC rungs and the pull-down lanyards on Augustine. I have played with the system at the dock, and it appears that it will work at sea, but it is quite another thing to lock the tiller under sail and jump overboard forward of the shrouds to see if it really works. I just installed this system in October, and have not yet had a skilled crew onboard to insure safe testing conditions. Keep in mind that the harbor has been closed here for much of the winter. Obviously I would not be eager to jump overboard while the boat is sailing close hauled at five knots even with an experienced crew onboard, especially during the winter. Around here we call that trolling. And there is always the possibility of being inadvertently keel hauled in the process.

    Playing with the system at the dock, it appears that an overboard sailor will be able to use the lifelines adjacent to the lifeline terminals shown in the photo above as hand holds. These terminals are through-deck-mounted eye bolts. Once standing on the bottom step, it is possible to reach other secure handholds on the deck, such as the wooden coming boards. It is quite another thing to do all of that while the boat is sailing forward at five knots with the rail down (or up if one is trying to climb up the ladder on the windward side).

    The idea behind the system is to increase the possibility of survival should one fall overboard while alone, and not to create an undeserved illusion of safety, which might cause one to take unnecessary risk. Frankly, anytime you sail out of that harbor alone you place yourself at risk, and every time you leave the cockpit to go forward that risk increases geometrically. The most important objective is to stay on the boat. That is why I like to use a three foot tether connected to the upwind jack line whenever possible.
    Scott

  12. #12
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    This image has been moved to an eariler post.
    Last edited by Scott Galloway; 03-13-2003 at 09:13 PM.
    Scott

  13. #13
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    This photo, which was promised above, provides a view of the the jackline and emergency boarding ladder system. It was originally posted with some of the entries from this thread on the Gallery thread, but subsequently moved to this thread.
    Attached Images  
    Scott

  14. #14
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    This photo, which was promised above, provides a view of the jacklines from Augustine's bow. It was originally posted with some of the entries from this thread on the Gallery thread, but subsequently moved to this thread.
    Attached Images  
    Last edited by Scott Galloway; 03-13-2003 at 09:15 PM.
    Scott

  15. #15
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    Sep 2001
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    Orinda, California
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    Here's a commercial product that appears to be designed along the same lines as the one Scott developed:

    http://www.wichard-usa.com/ProductBu...RDING%20LADDER

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