Accommodation ladders are simple pieces of equipment used with many different types of boats and ships. Designed as a portable device rather than a permanent fixture, this type of nautical ladder can be hung over the side of a boat or ship with relative ease, making it possible for passengers to climb into or out of the vessel with relative ease. The dimensions of the accommodation ladder vary, depending on the size of the boat or ship.
A typical accommodation ladder is constructed with lightweight metal that is capable of supporting the average weight of one or two people at a time. As with most ladders, the basic design is two poles or sides that are connected with a series of evenly spaced rungs. One characteristic that distinguishes an accommodation ladder is a hook design on the top of each pole, which makes it possible to securely position the ladder on the side of the boat when and as needed.
Some designs of the accommodation ladder are retractable, making it easy to fold them for easy storage. A ladder designed for use with a smaller boat, such as a powerboat or yacht, would likely be a simple solid piece that does not fold in any manner. Still, the ladder would be relatively small and easy to store in some nearby compartment, where it could be accessed and put into use with very little effort.
A hanging accommodation ladder is usually considered a staple of onboard equipment for smaller pleasure vessels, like yachts and powerboats. The devices make it relatively easy for passengers to enjoy swimming near a boat that is anchored in a lake, and regain access to the boat when and as desired. They also can make disembarking from the boat after it is docked at a pier much less hazardous, especially for people who are not used to getting on and off a boat.
An accommodation ladder may or may not include handrails and a platform as part of the design. Ladders for smaller vessels are less likely to include these features, while accommodation ladders for larger vessels will often include at least one landing or platform as well as handrails that run the length of the device. The design for larger boats may also allow the ladder to be placed parallel to the vessel, or run in a rectangular fashion to the board of the ship. While older versions of the accommodation ladder were once made with wood steps, many designs today are primarily made of metal components, with some of the ladders designed for use with smaller boats including heavy duty plastic as well.