getting from the water to the deck

this weekend i was sailing around the st. helena sound/port royal
sound area in south carolina, and while anchoring in the edisto
river, tangled some kind of line in my propeller. i put the anchor
down and went to cut the line away from the prop, when i realized i
could use the rudder as a way to get off and more to the point, back
onto the boat. everyone here probably already knows this, but it was
a revelation to me! seems like this might make the bcc a safer boat
in a mob situation. anyone have any thoughts or precautions for me on
the subject of using the rudder as a step back up onto the boat?

jon lang, sv jolie brise

After of couple of years of climbing up the rudder and boomkin, I
finally bit the bullet and got a real boarding ladder. I had a Michigan
outfit called Tops-in -Quality build it. It folds in three sections and
can either ride in the safety line gate or detaches with two quick pins and
fits in the lazarette. It was a bit pricey…$630… but seems to be
nicely done and is a great deal easier to use. I will be happy to take
some digital photos and send to anyone interested.
For having done this all on the phone and with e-mail, they got it
very close to perfect. There are a couple of minor mounting bracket mods
that I will be telling the builder about.


Tom Harrer
S/V Whitewings III

I would be very interested in seeing some photos, either on the board or at
my email address: dioscouri@h…

Please send photos

Hi Tom and the Group
I wish I knew you were looking for a boarding ladder. I have installed one on my boat and two other BCC’s for under $300. The ladder is telescopic with for steps or rungs. It collapses to about 18" long and is about 4 feet long when extended. The only modification is the bracket that is made for under deck mounting has to be cut, bent and welded. When installed in the brackets it can be hinged up to connect to the underside of the lifeline. If anyone is really interested I can ask Lokke to take a photo of his and post it on this site. I would ask Mike to do the same but there is a snowballs chance …that he would have a digital camera… There is a challenge?for you Mike Cochrane!!!

Hi Tom,

I would be very interested in a picture(s) of your boarding ladder. I
thought the one I had was good enough to allow a person to climb back on
board but a recent swim by my wife(slightly arthritic) proved otherwise.

Thanks in advance.

Denis N Ripley
‘Bristol Cream’


We had to rethink our getting aboard situation in '98 after a
hurricane damage re-build. We didn’t replace the heavy rubrail we
originally installed along the wale strake. The rail was large enough
to both use as a step to get aboard from the dink and to hang a swim
ladder from for climbing out of the water.

In a last-though effort before leaving Venezuela we cobbled together
a step and separate swim ladder from teak left over from replacing the
wale strake. Although meant to be a temporary solution, it has worked
out great.

The five-step ladder folds up short enough to stow along the
lifelines and the step is kept in the lazerette. The stainless strap
hinges and keyhole mounting brackets are available from most
chandleries and the matching studs to fit the brackets are 3/8 flat-
head machine bolts mounted on the wooden attachments. The most
expense involved is the teak to make the five-foot ladder, maybe $50.

Hopefully, the site below will show pix of the two items. Please
excuse the rough conditions of the wood. It’s been a long hot summer
in Alabama. Also, the water in the heavily treed harbor gets a lot of
debris after storms.,phch.darkroom.control.ScreenHome?cid=fd74337500365

Stan on Waxwing.

Hi Stan:

Always curious about other’s solutions…went to your link to see
your ladder solution and it took me to a sign in page…tried
Stan/waxwing…no joy…


Tom Harrer
S/V Whitewings III

Sorry, Tom et al,
Please try the following site:


Thanks for the new link. Good solution but, given the swimming
conditions in the photo, I can’t imagine the ladder gets much
use…yuk…and to think I’ve been whining about the
ring-around-my boot stripe, toothpaste residue from the weekend live
aboards in our marina…

Tom Harrer
S/V Whitewings III

Hey Tom, no one would swim in Mobile Bay unless they were born to it and thus have the inate antibodies to ward off the toxins. I’m sure you understand that the earlier photo was for demonstrating the ladder only.
Here is a more likely spot to enjoy the ladder; Venezuela.

Your boarding ladder sounds quite interesting; please forward drawing or photos when available. Thanks.

John E. Stamps CPA CFP
9541 Cypress Lake Drive, Suite 5
Fort Myers, FL 33919
Tele 239-275-9997
Fax 239-931-9186

Hi John, I bought a throw away camera that will provide CD photos with the film. I took photos of the ladder and some other ideas that I will post on the group site. It will take a week or so. Not even sure if it will work. I was told by the two guys who I installed the ladder for that $300 was too much. They paid the bills while I did the work. Anyway, it will be posted soon…I hope…

I have one of Roger’s boarding ladders on Zygote (BCC28 #116). Similar to the other of Roger’s innovations that I copied, it is elegant, simple, effective and inexpensive. Roger was good enough to have it made for me. Thanks again, Roger!

The basic ingredients are:

  • one or more pairs of mounting brackets (West Marine catalog #519355, US$10 a pair) - see mounts.jpg, about 113K if I’ve successfully attached it (apologies for the rust stains and general dirtiness: I’m just back after a couple of weeks abroad and took the pic this morning while busy on other matters); and

  • a Windline over-platform type telescoping swim ladder (mine is model UP-3X, West Marine catalog #165045 US$125) - see ladder.jpg, about 105K.

The key ingredient is the bracket, modified as Roger described above. See lfitting.jpg, about 60 K.



Penang, Malaysia

There has been some interest on boarding ladders lately. Bil Hansen sent some photos of the type that I installed on my own boat and on others. It is simple, inexpensive (relatively) and easy to install. However there are some minor modifications that must be made to the mounting brackets.

The ladder can be ordered from West Marine #351901, four step, over platform and sells for $145.
The mounting bracket are the key slot type WM # 519355, they come in pairs so if you want to mount your boarding ladder on either side of the boat you will need to buy two packages of two.?
After you have the parts the procedure is as follows:

  1. Reverse the mounting brackets on the ladder so the flat side is facing down. Tighten the bracket so it remains in position and takes some effort to move it. Move it to 90 degrees to the ladder so the steps are slightly slanted outward.
  2. It is best to install some stainless or bronze “D” mold where the ladder will rest to prevent any damage to the bulwarks and rubrail.
  3. Hold the ladder against the rubrail with the brackets at about 90 degrees to the ladder. The bracket should be resting on top of the bulwarks where you want to mount it. Mark the inside of the bracket where it passes over the bulwarks.
  4. Extend this line up the sides of the bracket and cut the sides down to the bottom. Do not cut through the bottom.
  5. Bend the bracket down until it seems to have a comfortable set against the inside of the bulwarks. Now remove the bracket and have a piece welded between the gap. See photos attached. The welding cost will vary by shop.
  6. After the bracket is welded, install a 1/4" carriage bolt in the bottom hole. It is best if you can find a snug washer to install on the bolt first so the head extends out from the bracket about 1/8".
  7. Set the keyslot brackets over the head of the carriage bolts and hold the ladder in position where you want it to set and mark the holes. Note that the ladder must be slid into the small part of the keyslot. I mount mine so the ladder has to be removed by pulling forward. This is because I might want to get underway in a hurry and forget about the ladder. The forward motion will just push the ladder harder against the bracket.
  8. Drill the holes for 1/4" bolts. I use flat head machine screws so the head is countersunk on the outside of the bulwarks. If nylon nuts are used on the inside they will have to be ground down because the ladder bracket “may” hit the nuts preventing the carriage bolt head from setting in the keyslot.
  9. I splice a small lanyard to the ladder that is used to hold the ladder to a lifeline stanchion when deployed. It hold the ladder to the underside of the lifeline when moving short distances. It also holds the steps up tight for storage.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

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