Boat Ladder Size and Fit
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Boat Ladder Size and Fit
Boat Ladder Sizing and Fit
Once you have determined the style of boat ladder you are looking for, you will want to verify that the dimensions of the ladder will fit in the location you have selected to mount it. The three main things to consider are:
The number of steps you will require (length of the ladder)
The overall width of the ladder
The space required to stow (or store) the ladder
Length and Number of Steps
For applications where you will be boarding your boat from in the water, the boat ladder must extend below the surface of the water in order to be effective. Once you have determined the location where you will be mounting your ladder, measure from the top of where you will be mounting the ladder to the top of the waterline to determine the length of the ladder necessary in order for the steps of the ladder to extend below the surface of the water. The more steps there are below the waterline the easier it will be to board. Ladders with at least 2-3 rungs below the water’s surface make for easy boarding. For ladders with only one step, you will want to make sure there is some type of a handle included as part of the ladder or attached to your boat to aid your passenger in lifting themselves up out of the water. If you have passengers that will have a difficult time climbing a vertical ladder, you will want to look for a ladder that protrudes into the water at an angle or includes a horizontal platform step below the surface of the water. Keep in mind that if your ladder extends below the water's surface for boarding, it must also be able to be stowed out of the water when underway.
Boat ladders come in a wide variety of widths. Once you have determined the location on your boat where it will be best to mount your ladder, measure the available width clearance. Be sure to take into account the boat motor and/or any other accessories you will have mounted on your boat. This will let you know the maximum width available for mounting your ladder. Compare that to the outer dimensions of the ladder in both the stowed and deployed positions to ensure that you will have sufficient room to mount and safely use your boarding ladder.
Stowing your Ladder
When selecting the right boat ladder, you need to consider how you want to stow your ladder. For applications where a ladder will be used infrequently, you may want to consider a portable or removeable ladder. Portable ladders, often referred to as Gunwale Ladders, will typically have hooks that go over the side of your boat. Removable ladders will have mounting hardware permanently installed on your boat, but the ladder itself can be removed and stowed separately. For both of these scenarios, you will stow the boat ladder in a storage compartment or under a seat when not in use. Be sure to verify that the dimensions of the ladder in its stowed position will fit in your available compartment. For applications where the ladder will be used frequently, such as water sport enthusiasts, you will want to consider a self-stowing ladder. These ladders will fold or telescope up out of the water and either latch in an upright position or lie flat on top of a platform or deck. Ladders with an undermount bracket slide underneath the platform for stowage, keeping the top of your deck or platform clear.
Ladder Design Overview
Boat ladders need to be made from non-corroding materials like stainless-steel or aluminum, plastic or polypropylene (poly). Both aluminum and stainless steel materials work well for boat ladders. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive. Stainless steel is stronger and more durable. Ladders are most often constructed of 1” tubing, which makes an extremely uncomfortable step for bare feet. Boat ladders that are designed with flat, broad, non-skid steps are the easiest and safest for boarding. Plastic or poly treads are the most comfortable on bare feet and have improved traction when wet. Other design elements to consider are the distance between the hull and the ladder (distance of the standoff) so there is adequate room for fingers and toes when climbing the ladder, as well as side rails for a secure hand hold to assist in safely boarding the boat.
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