GREAT INVENTIONS

Easy-access boat gangplank

By Pat Lynch

How two cottagers made their boats more accessible

Easy access boat gangplank

Photo by Ken Sanford

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Nothing was going to stop Ken and Pauline Sanford of Coldbrook, N.S., from cruising the waves of Aylesford Lake, not even painful surgeries.

“I had a tractor accident and my hip’s kind of bolted up a bit, and my wife’s had two hip replacements, so it was awkward for us to get in and out of the boat,” says Ken. “We had to crawl up on the seat, then somebody had to help us over the gunwale.”

Ken, 77, and Pauline, 76, are the second of three generations of Sandfords to cottage on this East Coast lakeshore and staying on land wasn’t an option. So Ken devised a solution, executed by a local welder: a pair of stepladders connected by a short gangplank and equipped with a set of handrails, creating a lightweight bridge that enables them to board the boat on their own. Ken secured the dockside ladder legs to his wharf with a pair of pins that allow him to flip the gangplank in and out of the boat (bottom photo). The bottom rung of the boatside ladder telescopes in and out to accommodate water-level changes. A caster on the bottom of the ladder where it touches the boat deck prevents the gangplank from tearing up the floor.

Now, when they want to head out for a spin, Ken and Pauline just flip the gangplank into the boat and climb aboard, no assistance required.


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Pat Lynch