How to Make a Dinghy-Boarding Ladder

Here's an inexpensive way to make boarding your dinghy from the water a whole lot easier. "Gear and Gadgets" from our November 26, 2008, CW Reckonings

November 25, 2008


(Figure 2) It costs less than $5 to fashion yourself a dinghy-boarding ladder out of some line and PVC pipe. Bob Methven

I run a charter operation in the British Virgin Islands and I’ve noticed that, after a long day of snorkeling or diving, some people find it difficult to haul themselves back on board the dinghy.

To make things a little easer on the spent swimmers, I built a three-rung dinghy ladder using 12 feet of non-floating line, 36 inches of PVC pipe, four “T” fittings, and two 90-degree fittings. Total cost for the supplies was less than $5. Here’ how to make it the dinghy ladder:

1. Cut the PVC into three, 12-inch lengths.
2. Attach the “T” fittings to two of the pipes. Align the fittings so that the middle of the “T” sticks out.
3. Drill holes through the fittings perpendicular to the “T.”


****| |Figure 1| 4. Run the line through the two PVC pipes and tie figure-eight knots on both sides of the pipes to position the rungs. The “T” will keep the rung away from the hull of the inflatable and serve as a a handhold (See Figure 1.)
5. Attach the 90-degree elbows to the remaining PVC pipe to form the bottom rung. Run the line through and tie figure-eight knots on both sides of the other rungs (See Figure 2).
6. Tie the lines together to keep the rungs level.
7. Attach the ladder to the dinghy by passing the lines through the dinghy’s boarding strap and securing to one of the padedyes on the transom (See Figure 3).
8. You might want to tie grab-holds to the padeye on the transom to help the boarding process.

****| |Figure 3| 9. When not in use, secure the ladder to the grab-holds in the dinghy to keep it out of the way.

Now, no matter how tired they are, everyone can board the dinghy easily and safely.


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