Boat Ladder for Inflatables

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Ladders for use around and aboard the boat? For docks and rafts, hook-on-the-rail models, stern mounts, folding, extending, the new center bar sport ladders…there are lots of them. Look in any chandlery or marine catalog.

Boat Ladder for Inflatables

Here’s a new one, just introduced by Practical Sailor readers Jill and Harold Oldak, who sail a Whitby 42 out of Naples, Florida. Oldak, a successful medallion manufacturer from Long Island, was instrumental years ago in the development of furling jib gear. He’s retired now, but said:

“I like to keep my hand in.”

Harold’s ladder, meant primarily for the sterns of inflatables, but usable also on any boat with a stern near the waterline, is a telescoping three-stepper that is 34″ long when extended and only 15″ when retracted.

Made of very well-fitted sections of thick-wall stainless steel tubing, it is retracted or dropped down with line that is threaded down both legs. If the line is secured within reach, the ladder can be extended by someone in the water. Rather than leave the ends of the legs raw, the Oldaks fitted black plastic caps, both top and bottom. The caps smooth the operation and prevent chafe on the line, which is New England Ropes’ Sta-Set braid.

The thick-wall sections, which have outside diameters of, from top to bottom, of 1-1/4″, 1″ and 3/4″, have close-fitting collars at the joints. Because of the sturdy tubing and tight tolerances, there is but about 1-1/8″ play at the bottom step.

A pair of 6″ struts make the ladder adaptable for an angled transom or to make a good stepping angle on vertical sterns. For sterns that are not conventional, the Oldaks include two solid blocks of nylon to alter the angles. Mounting hardware and a cleat are included.

The steps—more stainless tubing flattened in the middle and butt-welded neatly to the legs—have black plastic treads that snap in place and look like they’ll stay put.

In addition to telescoping (which on more boats would bring the ladder up clear of the water), the ladder folds up on its hinged mounting brackets, which are heavy stainless with three 1/4″ holes for mounting bolts or screws.

Harold’s Ladder is not the only extending ladder on the market (Windline makes several of them), but it’s a good one, designed and executed in a manner that suggests it will last a long while. Like most things that are made well, Harold’s Ladder is not inexpensive. It sells for $195. The Oldaks call their enterprise Anesco Marine, Ltd., 1700 Dolphin Ct., Naples, FL 34102, 941/774-3929, fax 941/774-0048.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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