Custom Search
Join Duckworks
Get free newsletter
on this site

Boarding Stirrup Ladder for My Small Sailboat

I have reached the age where I'm no longer able to bound over tall building in a single leap! In fact, trying to climb back aboard a swamped sailboat would be almost impossible for me to do without some type of aid. A nice folding ladder would be idea, however finding room to mount one is a problem with a small 8-foot Puddle Duck!

So I made a crude one-step rope boarding ladder to use should ever the need arise. I had a old piece of 3/4-inch rope about 12 feet long, and some electrical PVC cutoff pieces laying around so I used that.

The photos should show you how I looped the boat end of the rope in such a manner that I could slide the mast through the loop when rigging the boat. The loops of rope were tied to hold the piece of 3/4-inch PVC pipe in place. With the short width of the Puddle Duck, and the Stirrup Ladder attached to the mast, the ladder is reachable from either side, should the boat be knocked down and is resting on it's side.

By swimming around to the high side the ladder could be used to right the boat, and then used to climb aboard.

Bill Nolen

Oklahoma City, OK



This photo shows a good use for Lego (TM) Duplo bricks for all you family people. As all those clamps have a lot of weight, I decided I wanted maximum support for laminating these 7" Michalak-type oar blanks, to prevent bending. A heap of Lego-made supports did the job nicely. Glue pops off their surface easily at the push of a fingernail.

Mario Stoltz, Hamburg

On Iceboxes

The longest trip my wife, Teresa, and I have done is to Key Largo. We sail a Peep Hen (a 14' production cat boat with a 6' 8" beam, a cabin with two berths and 7' cockpit seats). We pre-prepare our gourmet meals at home several weeks ahead of time and freeze them in boilable bags. Freezing them way ahead of time assures that they are frozen rock hard. When we gear up for the trip we pack them into a cooler in the order we will eat them, topped with dry ice sealed in plastic. That cooler is duct taped shut and wrapped in a couple of old comforters for the 30+ hour ride to Key Largo. We made this trip about a dozen times until our daughter got old enough to ask why her parents left her with Mammu and Baps for so long. Part of that time, Teresas brother and his wife lived in Jacksonville, FL so we got a 3-4 hour sleep and a snack/meal at the +/-15 hour mark. Upon splashing the boat, the meals cooler goes as deep into the cabin, close to the cool water, as possible. We open that cooler only once a day to extract and thaw that days meals. We have never had a problem with food spoilage. We have a second cooler that is full of ice cubes for beverages. We have occasionally run out of ice cubes. Most of the time we have approached day trippers and asked for some of their ice which would most likely be dumped at the dock. We have been invited aboard for cocktails and left with new friends and more ice than we could use in a week.

Teresa sits in the cockpit during the day and knits, reads or otherwise occupies herself while I sail the boat. Her custom knitted sweaters have sometimes paid for our travel to and from Florida. Some days she might prep lunch, but most of the time I prepare the meals and I do the dishes which are minimal because our meals are sealed in plastic. The boiled water is used for clean-up of the plates and or bowls and the silverware. Any left-over water is dumped into the Sunshower. Dinner is usually preceded by anchoring in a secluded place (9 draft allows us to anchor in places most people cant even dream of), a saltwater bath and a Sunshower rinse, then wine or pina colladas from our battery operated blender. We live LARGE on our little yacht. We don't currently (no pun intended) have an on-board electrical system. Everything is individually battery operated. I think I am going to change this sometime in the future. I would like to have a better system of navigation / deck / anchoring lights. It will still be a minimum approach.

We have sailed the KL / FL Bay area for 10 days and not been able to see another human being without binoculars. We have a full canvas cockpit enclosure and sleep there rather than below. The cockpit grate pulls up and expands to span the space between the cockpit seats and forms a six foot wide berth. In the cabin sole we have an 18 x 18 Lexan window protected by a Teak grate. Its not much use in the Potomac River or the Chesapeake Bay, but in The Keys IT IS AWESOME! We have watched dolphins and manatees swim under the boat and pelicans dive into the water on one side and emerge, with fish in mouth, on the other side. Very, very COOL!

Steve Z.

Peep Hen Manatee Manassas, VA

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit our forum