The Boat Ladder

During our early camping years, before we had a boat dock, we had a twice-daily ritual of launching boats for fishing in the morning and retrieving them from the water at nightfall. The big tide differentials meant that if we had to move the boats during high tide, the boats only had to be moved a short distance. But, if it was closer to low tide, then it would be a long haul. Adding to this challenge was the weight of the boats with accompanying motors, fuel and supplies. The weight could exceed 1000 pounds per boat!


If we slid the aluminum boats across the gravel beach, the rocks functioned like a very course sandpaper. The beach’s stone surface would remove any barnacle growth from the bottom of the boats, but it also removed and dented the aluminum boat hull. Too many times up and down the beach was not good for man or boat. It required six full-grown men to push and drag the boat up and then down the beach.

To solve this problem, we devised a boat ladder. We bought 20-foot lengths of black (ABS) plastic pipe and cut it into 18 inch lengths. We then threaded rope through the pipes so that when the “ladder” was laid on the beach, the pipe looked like the steps of a ladder. The rope comprised the sides and connected the pipe together. The pipe was much slicker than the beach rocks, didn’t scrape the bottoms of the boats, and could easily be moved from place to be used over again. We built three ladders, each about 30 feet long. With our new “high tech” boat ramp, two men could launch a boat and four could more easily remove the boat from the water onto the beach and out of reach of the coming high tide.

At length, when pilings were placed and the boat dock was finally constructed to use at our current site, we had a moment of silence as we retired the plastic pipe ladders. This was followed by a celebration for the passing of an era at Doc Warner’s.

Mark Warner
Mark H. Warner was raised in Juneau and he has been fishing the waters of Alaska for more than 30 years. He grew up working with his father developing Doc Warner’s from its earliest days. After getting his Ph.D. in Mechanical engineering, he went to work in the industry where he later completed an Executive MBA. Then in 2010, his father, Doc, offered Mark and his wife, Kristina, the opportunity to move back to Alaska and operate the lodge full-time. Today, Mark has over 25 years of experience with Doc Warner’s. His knowledge and experience teaching people about self-guided fishing in Alaska are now used to create lasting memories for Doc Warner’s guests.
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