Guard Rail Gates on an Oceanranger by Ian Buchanan

One of the problems for ‘ageing sailors’ is that it can be harder to get on and off boats over the guard rails!I first researched the options of fitting a guard rail gate many years ago and looked at what Westerly did about this during manufacture. At the time, there was an Oceanranger belonging to Coulter and Jenny Patton was at the Southampton Boat Show, and Coulter sent me the measurements from his boat. The WOA arrangement for the Oceanranger was to have the gate adjacent to the cockpit, but the downside of this was that it was not at the point of maximum beam. Also, the positioning of the gate frames meant that these were often used to ‘pull oneself up’ when boarding. This put extra strain on the frames. The set-up used on Bob Shapland’s Oceandream was to break the guard rail between the stanchions at the point of maximum beam. This was adjacent to the shrouds, which could then be used to ‘pull oneself up’. On Clar Innis when it is at my home marina I have the advantage of steps to get to deck level (Photo 1). As I had planned a routine replacement of my guard rail wires it was the time to go for gates. The stanchions either side of the point of maximum beam were fitted with a custom-built bracing leg and ‘standard’ connectors to the existing stanchions. (Photo 2). The new guard wires were terminated at the pushpit and pulpit sides, and a joining wire with a pelican clip fitted on both upper and lower wires. (Photos 3). When the gate is open the pelican clips secure the loose wires to the forward area of the guard rails (Photo 4). (On my boat I have lines rigged forward to stop any loose sail from going overboard, e.g. when dropping cruising chute). When not at my home port I use a Fender Step slung from the bases of the shrouds to assist boarding (Photo 5). Thus, by using the shrouds and the Fender Step there is no strain on the stanchions. A project that I should have done years ago!