Friday, December 17, 2010

Boarding ladders

One of the things that the Previous Owner did well on Eolian was the design and installation of our boarding lader.  Eolian has a lot of freeboard.  There is no way, for example, that you are going to board her from a dinghy without some kind of ladder.

It is not uncommon for boats with lots of freeboard to have boarding ladders.  The question always is: "Where do I put this thing when I am not using it?"  It is not an easy question to answer.

If you use the old aluminum folding standby, you can just store it on deck or against the lifelines.  Best to tie it down somehow, tho.

The Force 50's (this is Ghost) came with a wonderful traditional boarding stairs, that fold up and tie to the outside of the lifelines underway.  They are completely adjustable as to height - right down to the water, and make a great platform from which to board a kayak at anchor.

Cooper 416's come with a wonderful heavy teak ladder, which folds in half. 

Eolian's Previous Owner (and I give him all the credit here) came up with a wonderful idea:

Fabricated out of stainless tubing large enough to be comfortable to bare feet, these are permanently bolted thru her hull.  There is a nut welded to the outside of the large washer (that is, inside the tubing), and a bolt goes thru the hull and engages the nut.  The large surface area of the washers provide the necessary stability.  And the bolt is sized to be more than adequate to support a fully mature male human being, but yet small enough to shear off and prevent hull damage should the step meet up with an immovable object - say, a dock (don't ask).   Yes, on a starboard tack, one or two steps may be submerged, adding a little drag.  But on a boat of Eolian's size, it doesn't account for much.

But best of all, we don't have to store them, and they are always ready for use.

Christian asked for additional detail on the steps - The best I can do here Christian is to put up this engineering sketch for the steps which was in the ship's papers:



Drew Frye said...

This is challenge I faced with every boat I have had: aging parents, a wife with a knee replacement, and I have had several knee surgeries.

My gripe with many stock ladders is that they end with too few steps below the water. I have always had to add at least one more step to make it manageable for swimmers, since we believe at least 3 submerged steps are needed.

I like the side rungs. It really works with the boat, reminiscent of the boarding strips on an old square rigger. Something different would be needed for aging swimmers, but in the PNW that is probably a minor issue.

bob said...

Hi Drew -

Eolian had one more step installed, below the waterline, but it had been removed before we became her caretakers. I suppose it was difficult to keep clean, but I do not know why for certain. I have not reinstalled it, so yes, boarding the boat when starting from the water is quite difficult, but as you point out, we're not doing a lot of swimming here, in our 50 degree water. In fact, if someone is in the water, we're probably going to be taking them out with the lifesling, not the ladder.

When I dive on the boat (in my wetsuit), I have the dinghy in the water, and climb into it from the water, then I board Eolian.

I agree, 3 steps below the surface would be ideal for boarding from the water.


Christian Hom said...

Would you mind posting a couple more close up photos of your ladder. I want to design and install one on our westsail42.

Thanks and Happy Holiday

Christian Holm said...

Many thanks... I should of been more clear. I was interested in the picture you took of the Force 50 "Ghost". We are located in Seattle and I would love to have one built. Does Ghost have a blog.

Again Merry Christmas, and thanks for your blog.


bob said...

Hi Christian -

No problem. Ghost is here in Seattle, right across the dock from us here at Shilshole. Why not bring your tape measure, sketchbook and camera down here? I'm sure Scott and Angela wouldn't mind if you measured up their stairs!

And yes, Ghost does have a blog:


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