Mast ladders come in a variety of styles, depending on the size and type of sailboat. They range from single-handed ladders that consist of loops along a long vertical strip to pegs inserted into the sides of a wooden mast on a larger vessel.
Selecting the right type of mast ladder to create depends on a number of factors. A functional ladder will allow you to keep your body close to the mast as you climb, to prevent falls. The ladder should also be securely attached at the top and bottom. It needs to be easy to use, and ideally allow for one hand to be free in case any work needs to be accomplished above the deck. The material for the ladder should be strong, durable and resistant to moisture-related decay. An additional consideration as you plan your ladder is whether it needs to be removable and able to be stored, or if it can remain attached to the mast.
Webbing is a popular material for mast ladders. It is strong, durable and easy to work with. In addition, a ladder made of webbing can be removed and rolled up for storage. Rope is an excellent option for similar reasons.
On larger vessels, a permanently mounted mast ladder could be useful. These ladders can be manufactured from wood or metal, and then bolted to the mast. Metal rings can be added around the ladder to protect you from falls.
There are two popular methods of creating a webbing ladder. The first is to sew loops of webbing along a strip of webbing that reaches from the top of the mast to the deck. These loops serve as handholds and footholds.
A similar design can be created using a length of rope. In this case, the loops can be tied along the length of rope to create the ladder.
Webbing or rope can serve as the outside rails for a rope ladder. The rungs can be created by running rope or webbing through metal or PVC tubing at regular intervals.
A metal ladder is created by cutting two long metal rails, and welding rungs between them at even intervals. Attach fastening plates at the top and bottom to bolt the ladder to the mast. Wooden ladders are similar in structure to metal ones, but are assembled by inserting the rungs into pre-drilled holes along the ladder rails.
A simple ladder can be created on a wooden mast by driving wooden or metal pegs directly into the mast on either side. These pegs can be used as footholds for climbing.