Can You Deploy your swim ladder from the water ?

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by MitchM, Aug 8, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. FastOlson


    Joined Apr 8, 2010
    1,085 posts, 153 likes
    Ericson Yachts Olson 34
    US Portland OR
    A well-regarded surveyor advises me that ABYC now requires that the first step be a certain distance under the water surface, AND that the folded or hinged ladder has a release method operable by a MOB.
    We have a pretty good hinged ladder, but are still trying to figure out a way to both secure it in a seaway and yet have it easy to lower by a (dazed...) swimmer.
    A consultation with Rube Goldberg -- with vital input from Mr. Occam --may be involved.

    jviss and SFS like this.
  2. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    10,076 posts, 3,083 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Indeed, the worst-case setups are when the ladder was designed to be part of the stern pulpit safety setup. That's makes a water-side release very difficult.

  3. Bosman


    Joined Oct 24, 2010
    343 posts, 49 likes
    Solina 27
    CA Wabamun, Alberta
    Yes, I can deploy the swim ladder from the water.

  4. Apex


    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    838 posts, 116 likes
    Oday 28
    US Traverse City
    why not rig a length of line to the outside end of each latch. Pulling on the middle of that line should pull each latch up. The trick is then routing the loop so that as the MOB pulls down and away from the boat, it also pulls the ladder out far enough for gravity to finish deployment.

    Parsons and justsomeguy like this.
  5. pateco


    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    2,201 posts, 643 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    Unless the rope was dragging in the water well behind the boat, getting close enough to pull the ladder down and let gravity do its work would probably get me smacked in the head with a heavy stainless ladder.

    jviss, Parsons and FastOlson like this.
  6. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    10,076 posts, 3,083 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Yea, boats with vertical open transoms are the easiest for sure.

    Bosman likes this.
  7. Mark Maulden

    Mark Maulden

    Joined Jan 25, 2011
    1,910 posts, 222 likes
    S2 11.0A
    US Anacortes, WA
    Our stern pulpit goes all the way around. The ladder is hinged on the transom and swings up to the pulpit where it is tied. I’ve been thinking one turn of double sided velcro to hold ladder in place and trail a line from ladder to the water. Just enough that it wont get jammed between hull and rudder..A pull on the line should “break” the velcro.

  8. MitchM


    Joined Jan 20, 2005
    744 posts, 117 likes
    Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32
    US Erie PA
    we also have an old fashioned ladder made of teak rungs and rope. it used to stay inboard of the toerail , with a pull line down near the water . it was held by a slip knot that could be released from the water. its main purpose became to hang off the bowsprit so eager youngsters could climb up it. in our old marina there were NO ladders at any dock and we needed to supply some means of climbing back on board or swimming 350 feeæt to shore if we fell in... which our dog once did, then i went in after her, then we both swam too long a way to wade on shore..

  9. LeslieTroyer


    Joined May 20, 2016
    2,582 posts, 1,203 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA
    Here is a pic of what I tried to describe above. Pull the green string the shackle releases, keep pulling the ladder comes down. Simple cheap

    Attached Files:

    JamesG161 likes this.
  10. SG


    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    1,420 posts, 271 likes
    J/Boat J/160
    US Annapolis
    Smaller Ladyhawk Stern.jpg When folded, ours is balanced in the stern "scoop". You can reach up and pull it down (hopefully without your head being in the way :^))).

    I wouldn't want to have to chase the boat in an emergency, even when I was a much better swimmer as a kid.


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  11. SwitchintoglideIII


    Joined Feb 11, 2012
    256 posts, 56 likes
    C&C Mega 30
    CA Long Point, Lake Erie
    Yes, I can deploy the ladder from the water by simply pulling the spring loaded platform down, resulting in two and a half rungs below the water line.
    IMG_0684.JPG IMG_0685.JPG IMG_0096.JPG IMG_0155.JPG
    MOB situation? Dunno, many variables....
    Gunkholing, favorite swimhole etc.... the ease of boarding is a blessing.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    pateco and Gene Neill like this.
  12. captbob47


    Joined Oct 6, 2015
    4 posts, 3 likes
    Compac 27
    US Anderson, SC
    I tie a "mooring hitch" connecting the ladder to the stainless corner stanchion next to it above the closest rung to the deck. The release line hanging over the stern is just above the water. The top of the ladder needs to stay outboard of the lifeline. You can go to to see how to tie the mooring hitch. The other end of the line is tied to the ladder itself to assist in pulling it down once it is released.

    JamesG161 and SFS like this.
  13. MitchM


    Joined Jan 20, 2005
    744 posts, 117 likes
    Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32
    US Erie PA
    that is a REALLY nice ladder set up.

  14. SFS


    Joined Aug 18, 2015
    1,608 posts, 524 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Tampa Bay
    This is exactly the solution I've been looking for. Simple, needs no parts except line already on the boat, and won't corrode. Thanks for posting.

    JamesG161 likes this.
  15. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,094 posts, 723 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    Probably the only time it it ("deployable swim ladder") would count for much is if you ended up in the water while the boat is lying at anchor or in its slip, or otherwise not underway by power or sail---as others have noted above. Believe it or not, people have been known to jump into the water with the boat at anchor or drifting, and then not be able to get back aboard b/c they forgot to drop the swim ladder. I think there was a relatively recent story about this happening off Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. I admit to the thoughtlessness of having gotten into the water at the slip to scrub the bottom, and then ??? How do I get out of the water--ladder not down?:doh: Fortunately, that day, the admiral was aboard to rescue me.:yeah:

    Yes, though, with some effort and the extra push of dive fins I can get high enough for a second to reach and barely pull the ladder down if I get a good hold on it. Poor mechanical advantage, however, pulling from near the hinge at the bottom. Sometimes I tie a line to it that pulls it from the "top"; see in my Avtar the ladder in the "up" position.

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  16. Pat


    Joined Jun 7, 2004
    1,248 posts, 53 likes
    Oday 272LE
    US Ninnescah Yacht Club, Wichita, Ks.
    This last March my wife was stepping on to the boat from the slip finger and slipped and fell in the water.. the water temp. that day was 37 degrees ...she had a very heavy quilted winter coat on which immediately filled with water.....I did not realize at first that she had slipped and fallen into the water from the slip finger until she started screaming....She was crying and scared to death but I did hear her screams and she smartly had swam to the back of the boat....screaming ' put the ladder in'...she was frantic and I did immediately lower the ladder from the stern of the boat into the water....she was frantic and freezing...she
    immediately grabbed the ladder and I grabbed her arms and somehow managed to pull her out of the water...she was crying and scared to death but thankfully she is strong and a good swimmer and was okay in the end..but her heavy winter coat was full of water......It was a lesson that when ever someone is swimming, playing in the water, or whatever, for them to have a ladder in the water...since then our club has installed ladders at the end of the slip finger, but had I not been in the boat, I could not have lowered the ladder...and I believe Heather would have drowned...and she is a former swim team member from her high school....accidents can and do happen and I'm fortunate to have been on the boat and could react to her screams of help.....we started thinking what would happen if someone drove up....entered the water to cool off and no one was around and could not get out...or some sort of accident occured?....could they sue our club for not providing ladders to aid in an emergency.? I thank our BOG for their quick response by providing a ladder for use in an emergency.....just a thought, Patrick......

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  17. Calif. Ted

    Calif. Ted

    Joined Jun 8, 2004
    2,207 posts, 184 likes
    Catalina 320
    US Dana Point
    For the 355 and 375 I believe Catalina put the ladder IN the transom for that purpose, in this picture note the square opening below the swim step.

    Attached Files:

  18. Bob S

    Bob S

    Joined Sep 27, 2007
    1,434 posts, 47 likes
    Beneteau 393
    US New Bedford
    Not an easy task when your dinghy is swinging on davits.

  19. Gene Neill

    Gene Neill

    Joined Sep 30, 2013
    2,787 posts, 1,384 likes
    C-22, Albin Vega
    US central Florida
    Brilliant! Did you build it yourself? That could be the solution I have been searching for.

  20. SwitchintoglideIII


    Joined Feb 11, 2012
    256 posts, 56 likes
    C&C Mega 30
    CA Long Point, Lake Erie
    Yes, design build out of nessecity...we do a lot of swimming when we are on the hook.

    pateco likes this.

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