Boarding ladder for a BayRaider

The notch on the aft edge of BayRaider rudders is an important safety feature, as it allows boarding of the boat from the water and over the stern.  However, while essential as an emergency feature, it is of less use for crew of a certain age who want to go for a swim and do not want to have to do anything too undignified to get back on board again.  Hence a design for a retractable stainless steel ladder mounted on the rudder assembly.

The modifications for the ladder require a certain amount of stainless steel fabrication.  The brief to the fabricator was as follows:

  • The whole thing must be removable – not welded to the rudder fabrication
  • A bracket slides over the buttresses on either side of the stainless rudder fabrication
  • The bracket is fastened at the back using a long bolt
  • It is braced using the rudder uphaul/downhaul roller bolt with additional eyenuts
  • The bracket should have winglets at an angle either side on the upper surface to support ladder struts – not too far back so as not to hit the transom when the rudder is hard over, and so that ladder stands clear of the rudder when it is down

The series of photos below shows what he made.  After two seasons of constant use in the Ionian, I can report that it works extremely well with no problems at all.  In use, it does not appear to put any strain on the rudder hinges, which must have been designed to take quite a weight in the first place.

The bracket and winglets bolted in place


With ladder installed in the stowed position. Despite appearances, nothing on the assembly fouls any part of the boat at any position of the rudder.  The rudder can still be hauled up to its normal vertical position when required.


The ladder in the down position, angled slightly away from the rudder to make boarding easier.


There are enough submerged rungs on the ladder to make boarding easy.

When leaving the boat at night with the rudder raised (diving over the side but into warm water only), an extra long rudder uphaul line needs to be jammed in to its Clamcleat as usual, then draped over the starboard gunwale.  Next morning, swim up to the boat, give the dangling uphaul a swift tug to detach it from its Clamcleat and then pull the rudder and ladder down ready for boarding.  In an emergency, it would be possible to cut the uphaul line at the stern to release the rudder and ladder that way.

I have left the bracket and winglets mounted semi-permanently, as they provide an extra step up on to the stern even when the ladder is not there.  An added benefit is that they can also be used to attach a registration plate bracket.  This is a replacement for the CLH trailer’s original telescopic struts which I found to be too near to the ground to be visible or practical.

Registration plate bracket bolted to the winglets.

Bracket in use, towing through Italy


Graham W    November ‘12

Alternative stern boarding ladder for a Baycruiser

I have used a four rung telescopic boarding ladder on my Baycruiser for the last two seasons. It is installed in a different way to Graham’s but I think it could be adapted to a Bayraider quite easily. It is not quite so neat and does hang at a slight angle due to the camber of the rear deck, but doesn’t require any stainless steel fabrication and is completely removeable. It is secured to an 18mm plywood panel which is simply bolted to the rear cockpit coaming through a downstand glued to the front edge of the panel. The rear edge just rests on teh upstand across teh transom.

When sailing single handed, I leave it hanging down, but “furled” with a velcro strap. When I have a crew, or when towing the boat, I flip it over to lie on the plywood panel, which looks better and stops it waggling about. I use it all the time for swimming. The lowest rung is a little high and might be hard to get onto if you were wearing full foul weather gear, but I have always managed to get up it easily. I think the photos should be self explanatory.

Ladder fully stowed

Ladder fully stowed

Ladder deployed but furled

Ladder deployed but furled. I sail with it like this when single handed

Ladder fully deployed

Ladder fully deployed. One rung on the surface and one fully below.

Ladder in sailing position

Julian S. Dec 2012