How to Make a Boat Ladder

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A boat ladder is used to allow easy boarding and disembarking for passengers on any small, recreational boat such as a dinghy or yacht. This ladder is attached to the side of the boat and can be stowed when it is not in use as it is unobtrusive and not bulky. When you have been swimming or diving and tired, these ladders are very useful, as they do not require a lot of energy to climb them. You can buy the needed materials so that they coordinate with the scheme of your boat.

Items you will need

  • 2 elbow fittings

  • 3 PVC pipes, 12 inches long

  • 12 foot weighted cord

  • 4 T fittings

  • Power drill

Slip an elbow fitting onto either end of a 12-inch long PVC pipe. The openings should both be facing up.

Feed the end of a 12-foot long weighted cord through one elbow opening until it comes out through the other one. Pull the end until there is an equal amount of string coming out of either side of the pipe.

Tie a knot on the left string, 12 inches up from the opening of the elbow fitting. Make another knot on the right string so it is perfectly in line with the left side knot. This is the frame and lowest rung of the ladder.

Make two additional rungs for the ladder by attaching a 'T' fitting to each end of two 12-inch long PVC pipes. The fittings should go onto the pipes through one of the horizontal openings, not the vertical one. The vertical openings should all be pointing up.

Make four holes, one through each of the sides of the fittings that overlap onto the pipes with a power drill. The hole should go through both sides of the fitting, through the pipe inside and should be aligned perpendicularly to the vertical opening on the fitting.

Slide the strings through the holes into each of the holes in one of the prepared rungs. The rung should rest on the first set of knots.

Tie another knot on the left and the right strings right above the rung resting on the first knots. These knots should hold the rung securely in place.

Tie another knot on the right and the left string, 12 inches above the previous ones.

Put the third rung onto the strings like you did with the second one, making sure the vertical fitting openings are facing in the same direction as those on the previous rung. Knot the rung in place.

Tie the loose ends of the strings to the handholds or other secure hardware on your boat.


  • Do not let anyone climb on the ladder until you are sure the knots you have made are secure and will support weight.


  • You can make the ladder longer if your boat demands it by making extra pipe rungs and adding 28 inches of string for each additional rung.
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