We prefer to dock bow in for a number of reasons I won't go into here, but if you don't have a full length finger pier, it makes boarding the boat difficult. Our docks were reconfigured this year and getting over the rail was challenging for my wife and grandchildren, even with a stair case. So we decided to add a gate to the rail. This would also be handy for tying along side other fixed piers we run in our cruising. Wish we had this last year on our canal trip, tying up to the many free walls available in the NYSC system.

I decided to locate the gate at the upper step in the walk around to minimize the step down from the gunnel. It is also about where the beam is greatest and is the closest place to the dock to step across. Not wanting to have to bring the boat to a marine fabricator, I looked for off the shelf hardware to do it myself.


Finding a 1 1/4" hinge fittings was difficult. There are none! The closest I could find were metric 30mm fittings in Europe and Australia. This would mean machining the fittings to 1 1/4" to make it work. I ordered a hinge online for about $40.00 American and another $35 shipping by FedEx.


The fittings I recieved were "as cast" in the I.D. Holding them in a lathe would have been difficult because of the hinge ears on the O.D., so decided to sand them to size using a die grindeer and sanding drums. That worked pretty well. I didn't like the idea of using the setscrew as the only means of fixing the fittings to the rail so I fit the fittings to the tubes carefully, leaving a slight interference fit, a light coat of epoxy and prssed them together for a strong permanent construction.


The other end was also challenging.There were no commercially available fittings for the latching end that I could find. So to save myself some work of having to machine the parts for that end, I used some 1 1/4" bimini top hardware to fabricate the end fittings. By modifying a top cap and a deck hing and welding the two together in my shop, and then using a standard cap eye end fitting on the gate, with a stainless spring drop cam pin, I was able to put something workable together.

I added a hinged type jaw slide to the rail to rest the tube in when the gate is open. The whole project came out great and we love being able to get on and off this way.