Your Tru Design Specialists Talk About Why You Need a Great Boarding Ladder
Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadn’t seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed—at least in the photo—pretty practical for routine boarding. I was curious how it worked in bouncy weather, and the owner of the boat, PS contributor Frank Lanier, assured me that the ladder, which came with the boat, was as good as any other he’d tried.
The trend toward sugar-scoop transoms on sailboats has reduced the need for boarding ladders, but owners of older boats like the Union 36 will likely need to retro-fit one. Our last boarding ladder test was in December 2002.
The boat I cruised on for many years, Tosca, was a double-ender with the same sort boarding of complications as the Union 36. A stern boarding ladder didn’t work. For a couple of ladder-less months after we bought the boat, we just shimmied up the bobstay when we went swimming.
Shocked at the prices for a stainless-steel ladder and wanting a permanent means of climbing aboard that a person in the water could use without assistance, we settled on a modification that you see on many catboats—folding steps drilled into the rudder (look for our Marshall 22 catboat review in November).
So keep in mind these suggestions when getting a portable boarding ladder. 1) You can buy a portable ladder for cheaper; 2) these are ladders you can use without assistance; and 3) they are easier to maintain.
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