|Drastic steps were required.|
Apparently, I have readers who worry when the pace of my blog posting slackens somewhat. Often, that's either because I have little to say, or it isn't particularly interesting (or is even less interesting than the usual not-very-interesting boat blagging), or I have to down boat tools and apply myself to money-making for the boat habit. Such has been the case recently.
It's also been the hottest part of the summer, making the interior of the steel beast intolerable even for those, like me, used to panting in its torrid, insufficiently ventilated bowels. Now, if that description hasn't been off-putting enough, I'll recount a recent repair gig on the old plastic fantastic, Valiente.
A boarding ladder bought last year to replace a previously busted ladder itself improvidentally folded the wrong way while I was descending for a swim. I'm considerably lighter than I was this time last year, so I blame shoddy construction. Irrespective of that, getting back aboard was a trial and I bear the bruises and cuts to prove it. So I determined to do better, meaning sturdier and stronger.
In our part of the world, ladders are required for the purposes of rescues, for which having at least one aboard is a mandatory safety equipment item, like flares, and of course for swimming and reboarding a boat at anchor. There are many ways to mount and deploy the many types of boarding ladder, which range from simple rope ladders...
|Note: Not the stern of Alchemy.|
There are plenty of boarding ladder options, most of which are spendy. There are folding, telescoping, single leg and even fairly novel ideas:
|Novel is also expensive, although I think firemen use something like this.|
Due to a chance perusal at the chandlery where my wife works, I picked up a ladder not only of a type I had yet to see: a gunwale-mounted aluminum ladder that was light, of a good width and which folded vertically.
|Nice and long, too, meaning a couple of steps are below WL|
|Ignore the general grubbiness. This was prior to a Big Summer Scrub/Debirding|
Looks like a real house ladder, doesn't it? For me, this is a Good Thing, given how lame and plasticky swim/boarding ladders have seemed to me.
|See previous repairs and former mount points. Also 40-year-old chrome on bronze. Sigh.|
Installation was straightforward, if longish, as I decided on a proper "drill 'n' fill" process of oversizing the mounting holes, isolating the balsa core with thickened epoxy (West System) and then drilling the proper-sized bolt holes (3/8") through the resultant "hard core".
|Slightly blurry...or was that the epoxy kicking?|
The mounting plates were sealed around their edges with 4200, as were the bolts themselves. As the bolts are snugged down, the "bead" of sealant climbs up the threads, making a further gasket of sorts under the bolt head and in the drilled hole itself, without mucking up the part the nuts and washers go on. This greatly lessens, for the years I've been doing it, the chances of rain or seawater migrating below, which can really ruin your Little Library of Boat Repair, in my unfortunate and pre-smartening-up experience.
|Evidence of my previous labours|
|Might have to consider repainting the interior at some point as this is getting old.|
|Will swim shortly, applying the ultimate field (stream?) test|
The finished project looks good to me and packs down even better into the starboard cockpit locker than did its crappy forebear. I saw on a sailing forum an idea to get the ladder more vertical vis-a-vis the turn (in) of the hull by lashing crosswise a foam pad or a small fender under the ladder. This sounds like a smart (and cheap!) idea I will employ.
|Cleverness courtesy of Cruisers' Forum's "David Old Jersey"|
Once again, needful work on Valiente leads to applicable solutions (or at least, bad ideas probably avoided) on Alchemy.