In the Lifejacket thread we're talking about flotation, but I thought I'd address the issue of "getting back on the boat".

Once upon a time I had a Santana 3030, which has a fair bit of freeboard. I was in the slip, had just jumped in the water to scrub the keel and rudder and just on a whim, I tried to get back on the boat from the water.


It just wasn't happening.

I could haul my butt back aboard my Cal 20, when I was problem. I could most usually get myself back aboard my H-Boat, which had pretty low freeboard for a 26-foot boat. But the Santana? No way. I tried once with my Santa Cruz 27. I was older then, and heavier and it was really, really dicey. With an adrenalin rush...maybe. I KNOW that now, without the stern ladder on the back of my S2 7.9, I could not haul myself back on the boat. The tether and jackline will keep me from losing contact with the boat, but how to get back on board?

So back in the day, I made myself two etriers.

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I sewed mine, but by following instructions on this website:

You can just tie one together.

Mountaineering shops sell them. REI has 'em. Any sailmaker or canvas shop could knock one out in an hour. You could also use a rope ladder. Rope laders aren't perfect...then again, etriers aren't, either. Something that "stands off" from the hull so it's easier to get your feet in them is better, but we're not talking about "convenience" here. We're talking about having a fighting chance of getting back on board.

I don't use mine when I'm in the Bay, but if I'm outside the Golden Gate, they are attached to the toerail, aft, with a solid s.s. carabiner. I have them lightly lashed to the stern pulpit with paracord, such that there's one bit of string hanging down that I can yank and the thing will fall into the water.

What's your plan for getting back on board?