March 2, 2018

Friday Funny 03-02/18 (One Step at a Time)


I'm back onboard Denali Rose, and learning how to maneuver with crutches, from the front to the back of the boat. We have a boarding ladder with two steps, and a companionway with steps to get into the boat. We have stair steps leading forward from the pilothouse to the galley, forward dinette, forward head, and v-berth. We have stair steps leading aft from the pilothouse to the rear head, the shop room, and the master cabin. I know this is not a handicap accessible boat, but I would have appreciated some standardizations.

Many useful items stored under the stairs.

I'll start with the companionway steps. There are four steps, each one progressively narrower than the last from the bottom up. The bottom step is 12 1/2 inches from the floor, the next three steps are 10 1/2 inches from each other, the top step is only 6 1/2 inches wide, and the top board to hop over to get into the cockpit is 10 1/2 inches from the top step. I appreciate these are mostly the same, but still quite a hop for someone on crutches. There are good handholds on both sides. Bill gets to boost me up... don't ask how.

Forward steps down to galley, lower dinette, forward head, and v-berth.

It's two steps down to the forward part of the boat. The first step down is 11 inches, and the second one is 10 1/2 inches. It's only 1/2 an inch, but deciding where to hold on, and where to step, it makes a difference. You can see the step is on hinges, and lifts up, and the floor (sole), has a recessed ring to pull out the floorboard. There are good handholds on both sides of the steps

Entrance to forward head (bathroom)

The threshold to the forward head doesn't have a step. I have no issues getting in and out, also the entrance to the v-berth is just flat floor, no threshold, step, or anything to hop over.

Aft stairs down to the aft head, shop/laundry room, and master stateroom.

Three steps down to the aft part of the boat. You can see two of them have hinges and lift up for access to storage. The top step is 9 1/2 inches, the middle is 9 1/2 inches, and the bottom step is 9 inches. There is only one handhold on one side of the steps. If I'm not careful, I catch my crutch on the hinged step and it slams back creating quite a racket. The cats jump every time I do it.

Threshold to aft head, also the threshold into the shower.

This one is difficult for me, I put my bum leg, and the crutch in, and then lean on the toilet lid to hop my good leg over the 6 inch high threshold. I'm not sure why this bathroom has such a high threshold, and the other one doesn't have one at all. There must be a nautical reason that I don't know about.

Master stateroom

The master stateroom, (our bedroom), is the hardest of all. There aren't any handholds on either side of the door, and I have identified where I would like to have some mounted. The step up is 8 inches. I use both crutches, put my good leg up into the room, lean forward on the crutches, and hop my other leg in, while I pull the crutches in at the same time. I nearly fell backwards one time, so now I am more careful to lean into the room.

It takes practice, and awareness of how to treat each step situation. I don't want to get complacent, and think that they are all the same. The thing is though, I've always been careful on the boat, ie, one hand for the boat, one hand for you, even inside, even at the dock. It was when I was on land, that I didn't use my common sense to keep myself upright. Everyone has heard my new rule, "I don't carry anything down stairs anymore. I will throw it to the bottom, and pick it up when I get there."

This is the best of all steps, 12 steps to chocolate.

Should I write Nauticat in Finland, and advise them how they could standardize steps onboard? Do you have standardized steps where you live? 

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, either here in comments or on our Facebook Denali Rose Sailboat page.


  1. It's bad enough getting on/off/around a boat without trying to do it on crutches. I can only imagine your struggle. It sounds like doing extreme yoga everyday for you.

    1. It's best to remember to always lead with the good leg going up, and lead with the bad leg going down. It has to be a deliberate thought process for every movement forward. Not fun, but at least I'm up and mobile. (mobile is a relative term)


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