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Safety Ladders


Lisahall24

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Happy New year to all.  
I’ve recently moved aboard my narrowboat and am still learning lots.  I’m CC’ing on my own and one of my biggest concerns is falling in the canal and not being able to get out.  I’ve looked at emergency ladders but there are so many and I was wondering if anybody could recommend some and how /where the best place to fit them is?

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23 minutes ago, Lisahall24 said:

Happy New year to all.  
I’ve recently moved aboard my narrowboat and am still learning lots.  I’m CC’ing on my own and one of my biggest concerns is falling in the canal and not being able to get out.  I’ve looked at emergency ladders but there are so many and I was wondering if anybody could recommend some and how /where the best place to fit them is?

 

When was your boat built ?

If it post 1998 it must by law have a method of boarding built into it, and, it will be explained in the owners manual.

 

Otherwise, there are a variety of methods you could emply, but basically whatever it is must be able to be deployed with you in the water.

 

A roll-up ladder attached to the stern that can be reached from the water is the best bet (as long as the engine is not running)

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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52 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

A roll-up ladder attached to the stern that can be reached from the water is the best bet (as long as the engine is not running)

I think you mean "as long as the prop is not turning".

The engine can be running - as long as its in neutral!

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1 minute ago, Rebotco said:

I think you mean "as long as the prop is not turning".

The engine can be running - as long as its in neutral!

I had thought of saying that, but considered that it is always possible for it to be knocked into gear.

 

However - YES - as long as the prop is not engaged it should be possible to board at the stern.

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I single hand and have a roll up ladder secureď to a mooring dolly and one leg of the taff rail. It's kept rolled up with a bungy and can be released with one hand. On most canals it reaches to the canal bed. Never tried it but hope it would work. I also wear a lifejacket much of the time.

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14 minutes ago, Slim said:

I single hand and have a roll up ladder secureď to a mooring dolly and one leg of the taff rail. It's kept rolled up with a bungy and can be released with one hand. On most canals it reaches to the canal bed. Never tried it but hope it would work. I also wear a lifejacket much of the time.

It is worth practising as climbing a roll-up (rope) ladder is not as simple as a 'solid-ladder'. you need to climb up-the-side otherwise it just pushes away from you and dissapears under the boat.

 

Climbing out of a shallow river - how hard can it be? - Equipment - Canal  World

 

 

Climbing out of a shallow river - how hard can it be? - Equipment - Canal World

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I faced this problem and quickly found out that any form of rope ladder, even with ridgy rungs, was very difficult, not to say imposable to climb unless either the bottom was well anchored to the ground or there was something solid in front of it to prevent the rungs pushing away from you under the boat. Even following advice from here to climb with feet either side of the rope so feet go on the rungs from opposite sides did not make it much easier. I also realised, having had problems getting my wife out of the canal onto piling that a rope ladder would be of little use unless the top can be secured quickly and easily.

 

I agree that the device must be deployable from in the water. I can't see much use for one of the duel purpose bearding ladder cum planks that are kept on the roof.

 

after much searching I found this:

 

3 STEP INFLATABLE BOAT BOARDING LADDER 12025 marine inflatable rib yacht

Its a folding rigid ladder. I did have to  reposition the rungs so it would fold flat and in that way it stowed easily between the rudder swan neck and the down sheeting around the cruiser stern. held in place by a bungy cord.

 

It  proved easy enough to pull out from the water and also perfectly possible to hook the cord over a dolly or T stud. Being rigid it did not tend to swing away from my feet. Also after some investigation I found that a lot of piling has a significant amount of slippy clay piled up against it making it  impossible to climb out. However with this ladder one way round it would act as a simple ladder bridging the clay bank or the other way round the bottom section would lay against the  clay making it easier to climb out.

 

Sunlight attacks the cord so it needs changing every year.

 

Unfortunately they are listed as out of stock but you may find something similar.

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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

When was your boat built ?

If it post 1998 it must by law have a method of boarding built into it, and, it will be explained in the owners manual.

 

But it many narrowboats this provision seems to consist solely of a small semicircular projection of the uxter plate either side of the rudder, which also functions as an end stop for rudder travel. It seems you are supposed to be able to put one foot on this then heave yourself out of the water by pulling on the swan neck/taff rail supports/suicide seat stand. I would suggest that would require upper body strength far beyond that of most boaters, so it is effectively useless. And foolish to even attempt if there is any possibility of prop rotation.

I have wondered why no boatbuilders seem to fit recessed hand and footholds in the hull side alongside the front well deck, where it would be much safer than at the stern.

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7 minutes ago, David Mack said:

I have wondered why no boatbuilders seem to fit recessed hand and footholds in the hull side alongside the front well deck, where it would be much safer than at the stern.

 

Cost would be my take on this.  It's far more time consuming and fiddly to fabricate such a recessed step than to leave a bit of uxter plate sticking out or chop a hole in the rudder (another common "step" technique)

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1 hour ago, Rebotco said:

I think you mean "as long as the prop is not turning".

The engine can be running - as long as its in neutral!

Not true, you may find that the prop still rotates slowly even out of gear, enough to do flesh serious damage.

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15 minutes ago, David Mack said:

 

But it many narrowboats this provision seems to consist solely of a small semicircular projection of the uxter plate either side of the rudder, which also functions as an end stop for rudder travel. It seems you are supposed to be able to put one foot on this then heave yourself out of the water by pulling on the swan neck/taff rail supports/suicide seat stand. I would suggest that would require upper body strength far beyond that of most boaters, so it is effectively useless. And foolish to even attempt if there is any possibility of prop rotation.

I have wondered why no boatbuilders seem to fit recessed hand and footholds in the hull side alongside the front well deck, where it would be much safer than at the stern.

 

I completely agree I believe that recessed 'foot holes' have been used on NB's but are obviously far more complex to manufacture, than just welding on a 'step' to the base plate.

The stern is normally used as it is normally much lower than the Bow.

 

I think more use could be made of the rudder blade, maybe with cutouts ?

 

The problem is that the RCD says 'some means of boarding must be provided' so a simple half-moon welded on means that the manufacturer can claim compliance.

 

Many manufacturers of 'lumpy boats' provide 'proper' boarding methods - often a telescopic recessed ladder that simply pulls out.

 

One example ;

 

Foldaway-Telescopic-Ladder-Stainless-Steel-Boat-Diving-Boarding-3-Steps-FALAD3

 

& another :

 

BOAT BOARDING AND EMERGENCY RESCUE ROPE LADDERS.

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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When we did our Inland Waterway Helmsmans Course, the instructor asked me, (as someone with 30+ years of sailing experience, as well as a short lived career as an officer in the Merchant Navy), what I would do if my other half fell in.

 

I ummed and ahh'd a bit, said I would throw her the life belt, try and manoeuvre alongside her, (being aware of the propellor), and lift her on board, just like I would do if we were at sea, and all easier said than done.

 

I could see he had a wry smile whilst I was answering, and knew that I wasn't giving the "right" answer. He eventually said that, the first thing to do is to suggest she tries to see if her feet could easily reach the bottom and, if they could, suggest that she walk to the towpath. (it was nearly 15 years ago, so I dont recall the detail, but you will get the gist).

 

This wouldn't work in the middle of much of The Bridgewater but, apparently, there are many CRT canals where it would.

7 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

Cost would be my take on this.  It's far more time consuming and fiddly to fabricate such a recessed step than to leave a bit of uxter plate sticking out or chop a hole in the rudder (another common "step" technique)

I wonder if something along the lines of, a few "bits sticking out", with something to hold on to on the deck above, might be a suitable compromise. This arrangement would need to be a bit further forward than the norm, in order for the first step to be low enough to get a foot on it.

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Just now, TheBiscuits said:

 

Did @rusty69 got a new outfit for Christmas?

 

Now she's getting older she decided to move away from 'rubber' and become a MAFIL (Middle Aged Female In Lycra)

 

I must admit to prefering her dress choice from a few years ago.

 

 

Miss Whiplash.jpg

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47 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

The problem is that the RCD says 'some means of boarding must be provided' so a simple half-moon welded on means that the manufacturer can claim compliance.

That's OK until some inquest or similar inquiry requires a boatbuilder to explain in court how a level of provision which is unusable by (say) 75% of his customers nevertheless satisfies the RCD requirement.

51 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

One example ;

 

Foldaway-Telescopic-Ladder-Stainless-Steel-Boat-Diving-Boarding-3-Steps-FALAD3

 

& another :

 

BOAT BOARDING AND EMERGENCY RESCUE ROPE LADDERS.

 

 

Things like that might be suitable on a salty water boat, but after a narrow boat hull has been bumped and scraped through  countless bridge holes and locks over a few years, how confident could you be that the ladder could still be released by someone in the water?

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8 minutes ago, David Mack said:

.......... how confident could you be that the ladder could still be released by someone in the water?

It is simply a suggestion as a possible solution that has proven itself in a similar application.

 

I'd have thought so, as the ladder-pocket is 'inside the hull'

 

It is simply a suggestion as a possible solution that has proven itself in a similar application.

 

A telescopic ladder could be welded onto the stern and a simple 'pull-string' can release the ladder.

 

As an 'idea' something like this, or combination of features.

 

Stainless Steel Fold Out Over Platform Telescoping Ladder with Protective Welded Bumper – Whitewater (whitewatermh.com)

 

Stainless Steel Sport/Diver Telescoping Ladder, Transom Mount – Whitewater (whitewatermh.com)

 

Stainless Steel Transom Fold Out Ladder – Whitewater (whitewatermh.com)

 

But then I suppose someone may get their boat stuck into reverse and damage the ladder when they reverse into the wall.

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3 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

It is worth practising as climbing a roll-up (rope) ladder is not as simple as a 'solid-ladder'. you need to climb up-the-side otherwise it just pushes away from you and dissapears under the boat. And then your legs get mangled by the propeller

 

Climbing out of a shallow river - how hard can it be? - Equipment - Canal  World

 

 

Climbing out of a shallow river - how hard can it be? - Equipment - Canal World

 

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Having fallen in off Juno into the river Avon several years ago I offer the following

 

A boat like Juno needs a ladder, it also needs the canopy zip to be accessible if the canopy is closed. Juno didn't have a ladder. 

 

I got out by climbing up the rudder and tiller of a narrowboat moored nearby - I'm not aware that it had any special fittings, the rudder was a good footing and the taff rail allowed me to haul myself up. Thankfully the boat did not have a canopy, nor did it have one of these wrap-around solid stern walls that you see today. There was plenty of room for my feet as I got clear of the water. I'm not especially strong of limb but I did it easily, the most awkward bit was getting over the taff rail.

 

Actually, no the most awkward bit was when the lady who lived on the boat came out of the cabin to find me dripping wet on her back deck. 

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I've often wondered how usable the step at the rear of our NB would be - it's of the extended plate type. Recently I saw a boat with two pieces of angle welded onto the rudder to form a step on each side. Positioned sufficiently low to allow easy use, in conjunction with the existing step this seems a simple modification to make the boat safer. My only concern is whether it would affect the water flow past the rudder.

  • Happy 1
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We had two mooring ropes on the back deck (one each side). When I fell in I tied a rope in loops to the rear dolly and used the loops to enable me to get out. When I fell in at the front of the boat I completely forgot that there was a lip on the base plate but luckily a gentleman is golden pyjamas from the boat in front rescued me.

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When I had the misfortune to go into the GU by packet boat lane I walked to the bank and jumped up just like getting out of the shallow end of the swimming pool. it was gravel mainly and waist deep. Since then I have an 8 foot ladder on the roof but then I don't cruise singlehanded.

 

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What becomes clear here (and every time this subject is broached) is that there's no solution that works well enough to be widely adopted.

 

When there is, I'm going to get one of those...  ;)

 

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I have only fallen in once and that was on New Year’s Day many years ago when I was breaking ice with a shaft around the cabin when I slipped off the gunwhale. I broke the ice and touched the bottom but rebounded straight back and up into the hold landing on the coal. I was now both wet, cold and black. Good job the bottom of Watford is shallow.

On our barge in France to comply with the regulations there had to be a notice near the wheel with instructions specifying what to do if man overboard. First thing engine in neutral. I never fell off the barge but the dog did in the middle of a wide river and he swam back to the boat. I had to climb down the rudder and grab him but he was to heavy 25 kgs for me to lift him back whilst clinging on myself. We fashioned a rope sling and but it round him and with herself pulling and me pushing got him on board. I then heard clapping and looked round to see we had drifted back under a footbridge and had attracted quite an audience. Luckily the previous owner had had some rungs welded on the rudder.

E7C2AF76-CBBA-4881-BC9E-925098AF1F1F.jpeg

  • Greenie 1
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7 minutes ago, Dav and Pen said:

I had to climb down the rudder and grab him but he was to heavy 25 kgs for me to lift him back whilst clinging on myself.

That just goes to show how difficult it is - multiply that weight by 3x or 4x  and you have a serious problem in trying to lift someone back on board.

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