This is one piece of gear that I didn’t imagine would be so helpful but it has surprised me and become almost indispensable to me. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much—a ladder to climb into the sailboat. But what’s great about this ladder is that it’s perfectly designed for the trailer sailor.
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The first year that we had Summer Dance, I just climbed up the trailer fender and pulled myself up on the boat. I’m a mountain/rock/ice climber so I like to climb stuff already. But in case you haven’t noticed already from this website, I also like to work on my sailboat. A lot. Climbing up and down the hard way doesn’t work very well with tools and materials in your hands and it gets old after a while.
More importantly, though, it doesn’t work at all for Mrs. $tingy who is not a climber. In fact, she took a bit of a spill off the fender one year while we were setting up to launch Summer Dance and we nearly had to cancel our trip. After that episode, I knew I needed a better solution.
I considered a regular step ladder but they either take up too much room or are too much hassle to take to the launch ramp. That’s where you make a dozen trips between the tow vehicle and the boat to get everything set up and loaded to launch. Instead, I wanted something that would be compact and easy to haul in my tow vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab 4×4 with a fiberglass canopy.
It also needed to be simple and quick to set up and stable enough to use almost anywhere: at the launch ramp, in my driveway, or on the gravel floor of my barn where I store and work on Summer Dance.
Instead, I wanted something that would be compact and easy to haul in the 6′ bed of my tow vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab 4×4 with fiberglass canopy. Sure, I could strap a different ladder onto the roof rack, but that’s not very convenient and it would make the ladder more susceptible to theft.
It also needed to be simple and quick to set up and stable enough to use almost anywhere: at the launch ramp, in my driveway, or on the gravel floor of my barn where I store and work on Summer Dance. I had seen ads for the Little Giant articulating ladder and it seemed like a good solution. Man, is it!
The Little Giant ladder converts in seconds from an A-frame ladder to an extension ladder, to adjustable step ladder for uneven surfaces. It comes in different heights to step easily onto most sailboats, it’s extra wide stance makes it more stable than conventional step ladders, and it’s rated for up to 300 pounds.
You can see how it works in this short video:
What I like about it for trailer sailing is:
- The Model 17 is just the right height for my sailboat. I can stand on the 5th rung and step straight onto the deck in most cases. The top of the ladder makes a safe and convenient handhold while getting on and off the ladder.
- It folds down to a little over 4′ in length, which stores easily in my pickup bed without straps and leaves plenty of room for other gear and supplies.
- The Tip & Glide Wheels make it easy to roll from the pickup to the sailboat at the launch staging area. And at only ? lbs, even Mrs. $tingy can do it.
The Little Giant ladders are strong, solid, made in the USA, and come with a lifetime warranty. They come in several different sizes and simply work like you expect them to. Since I’ve had one, I’ve found lots of other uses for it around the house. I have two other ladders but I usually grab my Little Giant first.
You can buy Little Giant ladders direct from the manufacturer without paying sales tax (except Utah) and free shipping in the contiguous US. Also watch for them on sale at Costco, where I bought mine for less than the cost of an inferior imported knock-off.
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