Page last updated July 17, 2008



Adding a Swim Ladder

While my boat originally never came with a swim ladder. The need arose while I was pulling my kids on a tube. They had a blast but then the dreaded re-entry came up. It was sort of easy since I was in the boat and we helped them in. Then my mom gave it a shot and the fun started. She wasn't heavy but I was reluctant to pull her in for fear of injuring her. Then I tried swimming and my entry was far from graceful.

Swim ladders come in a variety of sizes and purposes. Some are custom made for pontoon boats. They have a flat surface and can be hung over the deck with no problems. If you have a center console boat such as my Kenner 18VX, the options get smaller. I chose the Dotline Universal 3 step swim ladder (UFM3A)available from Bass Pro Shops. It mounted fairly easily. It came with almost all hardware required. The only thing missing was the screws to bolt the mounting brackets onto the boat. Well... you can't mount the ladder without mounting bolts so you have to purchase those seperately. I don't see why the manufacturer could not include these items since they would have added minimal cost to the $60 + package. Make sure the screws or bolts you purchase are stainless steel. You can use long wood screws or bolt and nut. The ladder is fairly strong and can easily hold my 180 lb weight.

1. Before you drill any holes onto the hull, get a rough idea of where you would like to install the ladder. This ladder is meant for transom mount. Make sure the motor will not hit it when fully turned . If you ever plan on pulling something or someone using the hull mounts located on the transom, make the ring is dead center on one of the steps. I don't have a ski pole on my hull so I pull my kids using these rings.

2. Make sure the angle of the ladder is perpendicular to the water. This requires that you have an idea of where the water line is on the hull since your boat is out of water. The ladder comes with aluminum rods that can easily be cut with a hacksaw if you need to make adjustments to the ladder angle.

3. Use marine silicon to seal any holes you make. You don't want water creeping into the holes you make. When securing the bolts into place, squeeze silicon into hole and around bracket. When you tighten, the silicon should squeeze out of the corners. Wipe up any excess and let cure before applying any additional pressure.


The great thing about the ladder is that it is permanently mounted so it will be out of the way when not in use. It folds up so you won't experience any drag while under way.

Mount the top portion first. Pretty stright forward. Measure, mark and drill. Use silicon.

When you get to the mounting of the lower support beams, make sure you have already measured the support beams so that the ladder is supported by both sides / beams. This means measure and cut if needed.



When you are ready for lower half, then place provided bolt through front of ladder and place small grooved plastic support against the ladder. Screw the plastic nut into male plastic piece as seen on photo to the left.




Screw only a little, test that the support beam still fits. As you continue to screw, the nut will casue the other plastic piece to expand. You want it to catch as you screw but you also want the beam to fit when it is ready. If you tighten to much, simply loosen.



Now place support beam onto plastic piece. Tighten screw and as you tighten, the male plastic piece will expand causing it to grip on support beam.

Do both sides at the same time. If you find it does not catch, then remove support pole, tighten a little more while holding the nut and place support beam back on and try again. It will eventually catch, but make sure you are trying both sides.


When all is well, tighten both sides down and your ladder is ready for use. The lower portion of the support brackets are really only there to keep the ladder steady. it is not really meant for you to pull on, the top will accept pull but not the lower half.




The mounting bolts look rusty but really are not. They were not included in package so I dug around and found a few stainless steel screws that were mixed in with some rusty nails.





And here is the finished product. It folds up and is held in the up position via the springs.

Adding an additional Boat battery

Coming Soon



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