Thursday, 27 March 2014

Recovery Ladder

While the Spindrift project was stalled during the winter, I hacked the ladder up!

The original ladder:

And, upside-down in my living room:

 Got transmogrified into this:

The intention was to make a recovery ladder that will attach solidly to the outside of the transom. I'm not as strong as I once was, and the water here is quite cold: you don't last long in it before it saps any strength you may have started out with. If I get knocked out of the boat, or fall off inadvertently, I want to be able to get back aboard relatively easily.

The original ladder was stored across the after end of the cockpit seats and was hung over the transom as needed, with kick-out legs to keep it off the transom. There was no way it could be deployed in an emergency unless there was someone aboard who knew how to set it up.

I took the appendages off and sliced the ladder into two parts. The smaller top part will be bolted to the transom. The longer bottom part will be hinged up and held with a slip-knot. The stainless hinges are a little stiff, so it has to be pulled down, which I think is good, because then there's less likelihood that it will bonk me on the head when it comes down.

The top step, which will be against the transom, has a cut-out to drain water and to act as a hand-hold:

I drew the cut-outs in the smaller top part too big, so I put cheeks on both sides of each piece for added strength. The pull will be mostly downward, so this I believe will be quite strong enough.

I re-glued two of the steps and epoxy-filleted the top one because it wouldn't come apart to re-glue. The old varnish and epoxy was scraped off and everything got one coat of primer and three coats of acrylic paint. The wood is very nice old fir, I believe, and one piece is quite hard with lots of winter wood. I rounded the edges and corners of the cut-outs with my pocket knife. It was quite a slog to carve the harder piece. I re-used the plastic bumpers, planing them thinner to fit better.

You may notice that in the top photo of the new ladder the bottom on one side is rounded:
I did that so that the rudder has a wider arc before connecting with the ladder—and a softer landing. My guess is that taking the point off added another degree or two to the swing of the rudder. I may end up modifying the rudder.

This was my first use of exterior acrylic (water-based) paint (Sico brand). It's so much nicer to apply since it doesn't stink and clean-up is with water. It can be applied down to one degree Celsius, so touch-ups can be done in the off-season too. I've used latex paint before, and this is different; it's much harder.


  1. Good work Eric, like Dad in a way, good with your hands. A pocket knife? Isn't that kind of a long job?

  2. Thanks, rboy. If I had a proper shop I might have used a different tool, but in the apartment, the pocket knife worked fine—it was just on the cut-outs. Yes, it was a long job, and it was a long winter! Who is you, "rboy"?