If someone goes overboard, but is still conscious to get themselves back onboard you may want to consider a man overboard ladder. Rachael Sprot looks at the options
For a fully conscious casualty, climbing back on board is one solution. We trialled two man overboard ladders and the swimming ladder on the transom.
The swimming ladder was by far the easier route but even in a slight sea the transom was moving up and down by a foot or so. Offshore it would probably be too dangerous to attempt.
The portable boarding ladders attached at midships worked well as part of a hybrid solution where the rescuer takes some weight as the casualty climbs up. However, you need a lot of upper body strength to use them unaided and a rigid midships ladder is much more user friendly if you have space to stow it.
Best man overboard ladder
Ocean Safety MOB ladder
This ladder comes in a neat satchel which can be rigged up for offshore voyages or stowed away in a locker. It has rigid rungs to make it easier to use and is available in 3 and 4m lengths. It attaches quickly to the guard wires, but you’d need sturdy stanchions to take the weight of a person. Alternatively, find a way to buckle it to the deck. The gap between the top rung and the top of the ladder is quite big so it’s a big last step.
- 3 & 4m options
- Deployable from water
- Weighted rigid rungs
- Big gap between top rung and deck level
- Puts all the weight of the casualty on the guard wires
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Lazilas Safe Up
This webbing man overboard ladder is 2m long and very compact when stowed. A generous grab handle on the underside makes it easy to deploy from the water. The webbing steps are hard to use though and the buckles to attach it are fiddly so it won’t work well with cold hands or in a panic.
- Quick to deploy
- Deployable from the water
- Very compact
- Slow to rig up
- Webbing steps are harder to use
Plastimo Stainless Steel folding ladder
If you’ve swum from a boat without a bathing platform, you’ll know that getting out of the water using a rope or webbing ladder is very challenging. A rigid ladder is by far the best option.
This stainless steel folding ladder from Plastimo comes in a variety of different lengths and makes the process of getting back on board much easier. You’ll need to permanently attach two fixings to the hull for it to slot onto, but once those are installed it’s really quick to set up- just slot it into place.
- Plastic, non-slip steps
- Quick to set up
- Much easier to use
- Bulkier to stow
- Mounting points require permanent installation
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