How to Install a Boat Ladder


If your passengers like to do water sports and take a dip while out on your boat, you will need a good quality ladder. Divers will want one that makes it easy for them to come out of the water and onto the ladder wearing their flippers. A ladder is also an important safety item in case someone falls overboard. There is a range of removable and fixed ladders to choose from. Find the one that will suit the most common boating activities for you.

Choosing your Ladder

Boat ladders are available in different lengths – most are two-, three- or four-steps. The height of your boat from the waterline to the deck will determine how many steps you need. Having two steps below the water is the easiest ladder for swimmers to use to pull themselves out of the water.

A foldable ladder is ideal if you have limited room on your boat for storing the ladder when the boat is moving. Look at the treads on the steps. Broader, non-skid treads are much more comfortable on the feet and easier to use than thin stainless steel tubing. Ladders that stand away from the hull are best for not crushing fingers and toes.

The most common materials used to construct boat ladders are aluminum or stainless steel. The difference in choosing one over the other is that stainless steel ladders will look and feel stronger while aluminium is lighter and cheaper.


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Installing your Boat Ladder

Step 1: Start by covering the area with masking tape. This will provide a better surface to draw on and to help prevent scratching the transom, cover the area with masking tape.

Step 2: When it comes to choosing a spot on the transom for the ladder to go, make sure it is far enough to the port or starboard side that the ladder doesn’t interfere with the turning of the motor whether it is tilted up or down. Now draw a vertical line down the transom to mark the edge of the ladder and then a horizontal line where the waterline usually sits when the boat is at rest.

Step 3: Check there are no wires or supports on the other side of the transom and enough room to accommodate the backing board. If not, you may need to swap sides of the transom.     

Step 4: To determine the height of the ladder, hold it up along the vertical line and mark the top of the mounting bolt ensuring the bottom two rungs of the ladder are below the waterline to make it easier for swimmers to exit the water.

Step 5: Using the mounting plate as a template, mark the mounting hole locations. Recheck the position of the ladder before drilling any holes.    

Step 6: Drill the holes and bolt on the bracket with sealant between the bracket and transom. Tighten bolts and wipe off any excess sealant. Once completely dry, attach the ladder.

If you have any queries about the best ladder for your boat and activities, call Boat Accessories Australia on 1300 308 161 or send us an email.

Category: Installation

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