No dumb questions on this forum. Not sure there is a correct answer. They are located just ahead or adjacent to the cockpit port of starboard side. My Hunter 386 and 46 had/have them on both sides. Do you have a gate with pelican hooks and connecting points built into the stanchion?
We have two gates each side for a total of eight pelican hooks. When arriving or leaving with all ones clothing, food, drinks and other stuff it is most convenient to lift it directly into the cockpit. For pumping out, filling tanks or general docking it is helpful to have the gates at the beamiest point of the hull.
Previously it was on one side in the space between the aft railing and the next stanchion. installing new ones and just wondering if it should be in the next space as that it is where it is the most beam where it would be closer to a dock. but that next space seems more forward of the cockpit. just not sure if its something i need to put a lot of thought into or just put it where i think best.
Put it/them where they will serve you best. My personal experience is there are times when direct access into the cockpit is really nice and we use it almost every time we are moving laundry, groceries, fuel etc. Stepping over the lifelines at midships is easy. The best is both if you are willing to spring for the pelican hooks etc
No dumb question, made a two weeks trip on a borrowed h34 and could not figure out if there was a correct place for them either. I don't think boat manufacturers know either, they seem to place them near the stern were they are useless, not just on the 34.
If installing them on a boat with none, as @Johnb provides, locate them where they serve your needs. I like mine. They are on both sides port and starboard. They are just ahead of the cockpit/cabin. This means when you step aboard you are on the side deck. There is a hand hold immediately in front of you "Hand rails on the cabin top". This means you use the hand rail and not the gate stanchion to assist you getting onto the boat. The hand rail is a solid and sure grip for the crew.
The gate is big enough to step through. This would be too small to load a cooler through. Coolers are loaded directly into the cockpit under the lifeline over the side of the boat next to the dock.
Mine has them all the way aft. Note the loops on the stern rail for the Pelican Hooks. That was the cheapest route to manufacture the boat. One turnbuckle on the bow to tension the entire lifeline. No reinforced stantions required to form a gate opening. Not the most convenient location. We back into our slip and have made it work.
Mine are also aft as Alan and Capt Robbie note. I come in bow first but always cinch up the stern line tighter to close up the gap. Thinking I'd like to build a little boarding step to hang from the toe rail.
Sailstep (sailstep - Google Search) seems to be out of business, but I built one out of some aluminum angle iron, some three inch pegs with rubber tips and a Garelick cockpit step and it works great at the dock with my H34. Makes the step from the dock to the aft quarter easy, even for my little legs.