As an addition to our top improvements of 2018, we would like to introduce you to "Zebbie" the gangplank.
While we always prefer to be at anchor, there are occasions when we either need to, or want to go in to a harbour or marina. In Greece and Turkey we have found that the harbour walls are often a bit high for us to reverse in towards and be able to use our clip in folding carbon fibre paserelle without danger to the underside of the RIB.
With ferry traffic often creating surge in harbour, we prefer to keep well away from the wall. Last year we found ourselves performing acrobatics by having to climb over the RIB , balance on the davit arm and jump to shore. Sometimes getting back on after a night ashore caused, should we say, a certain amount of matrimonial tension.
Many yachts in the Med carry a long wooden scaffold plank onboard, but the thought of me trying to wield a wooden plank of over 3m long, kept my mind spinning for a solution. In April, while visiting Athens to get Lady Roslyn ready for the sailing season, I visited a yacht chandler near Zea Marina where they had a beautiful 3.3m folding aluminium paserelle for sale.
Perfect, I thought.
"How much?" I asked. "
"Seven hundred and fifty Euros" he replied, at which point I gulped and thanked him while beating a hasty retreat out the door. (For those of you that think in US Dollars, that's US$870). Talk about the word BOAT actually standing for Bring On Another Thousand !
Back to the drawing, or should I say thinking, board.
I started to wonder why a ladder would not do the trick. I looked at folding ladders to see if they would work, but found that their mechanisms were made from mild steel and they were not designed for horiziontal, but only vertical loads.
After looking at various models, I decided to buy a 3.3m single span aluminium ladder. I then had a sheet of 6mm marine ply cut to the exact width of the long members of the ladder and made the length of the marine ply shorter than the ladder so I could cut the ladder to size later, if necessary. Next was a coat of 2 part white epoxy paint onto the marine ply.
I had planned to drill holes in the marine ply and use nylon cable ties to secure it to the ladder rungs, but found that by cutting it to exact size that the marine ply clips in tightly and stays there. The added bonus of this is that I can un-clip the ply if I ever need to use the ladder as a ladder and not a gangplank.
Next up was to buy 3M non slip self adhesive tape in grey and black and stick it on at regular intervals about a half a shoe length apart.
Finally, I riveted castor wheels onto one side (in the image above you can see version 1 which has swiveling wheels which were the only ones I could find on the island of Sifnos in the Cyclades). They didn't work all that well and caused the ladder to "walk" along the harbour wall. In Kos we managed to find wheels which were non swiveling and as Version 2, these have worked much more effectively.
On the other end of the ladder we have nylon cable tied some short lengths of garden hose pipe to act as bumpers for resting on Lady Roslyn's deck.
And after all that, "Voila", we have a fantastic, long, gang plank. It attaches easily to our guard rails or on top of the davits when not in use. It is under 10kgs in weight and the total cost for ladder, marine ply, paint, non-slip and wheels was under 100 EURO's.
Happy wife, happy life
We were very happy while in Symi harbour in July, when an idiot of a ferry captain sped into the harbour, causing a wake which had a number of yachts alongside us bash their sterns against the wall and caused a couple of monohulls to knock masts while rocking violently from side to side. Our gangplank just rolled in and out happily while our RIB and stern were far enough away from the wall to not cause us any anxiety.
That's it for today folks. Hopefully you find this useful.
p.s. For anyone wondering about the name "Zebbie", it's because we're from Africa and it reminded us of a zebra when it was first finished.