SOS Marine™ Recovery Ladder™


The Recovery Ladder™ from S.O.S. Marine helps man overboard get out of the water two ways.

  1. Able crew climbs ladder rungs.
  2. Disabled, hypothermic, or injured crew can be parbuckle lifted aboard.

For sail boat or power boat. Made of soft materials, unlike swimstep or rigid boarding ladder, to avoid injuring MOB during recovery.

Available on backorder


SOS Marine Recovery Ladder was nominated for a DAME award at the 2015 METSTRADE show in Amsterdam. It is made from dayglow (neon yellow) polyester mesh offering two means of exit from the water. Able crew can climb the integral ladder rungs. Parbuckle lift aboard your injured, disabled, or hypothermic crew using your halyard, davit, or block & tackle. Can you recognize signs of hypothermia? Click to the World Sailing OSR Appendix J.

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How to Use

When you first acquire yours, set it up for future deployment on your boat–before you have a crew overboard. Take your time, in advance of need, to determine how rigging on your boat can best be handled. You might rig the ladder to a length of line fastened between stanchion bases, or rig through hawse pipes, or over the gunwale, to a cleat, or to padeyes or other strong points. Once you decide how best to secure the recovery ladder for use, why not leave that rigging fastened to the ladder. When the time comes to recover your overboard crew, that line will be already tied to your recovery ladder, the lengths will be properly adjusted, all waiting in the ladder’s integral stuff sack, ready to use.


Follow the Steps to a Safe Recovery

You can think of MOB recovery as a group of modules, a sequence of events, or steps:

  1. mark the overboard crew’s location with a dan buoy
  2. draw crew alongside boat with a Reelsling
  3. help crew back aboard with the SOS Marine Recovery Ladder.

Stepwise to Safety

Consider the steps enumerated above:

1. Just Throw Your MOB a Dan Buoy

When your crew goes overboard, the best first step to take is to throw that person a dan buoy. That marks the MOB’s position, helping you find him night or day, provides immediate additional flotation, until light and audible (whistle) signals direct vessel alongside for recovery.

2. Deploy the Reelsling

The Reelsling float is specifically designed to help you draw a man overboard back to the boat. The principle is that it connects you to the overboard crew with a line and a float. As retrieving vessel circles around MOB, dragging fully extended line and float behind the boat, the line will draw within reach of the MOB. This device also provides opportunity to lift the MOB from the water. Easier for all is that, if the MOB is not injured, not hypothermic, and able–bodied, that person can come back aboard by climbing up the Recovery Ladder, which is quicker than lifting with any sling or parbuckle.


Using a dan buoy in conjunction with the Reelsling makes turning a circle around your MOB as easy as possible. The dan buoy gives you a clear reference point, even at night. Your MOB’s bobbing head is a surprisingly hard–to–see target, especially at night, easy to lose between waves, or when washed over by a wave. The self–inflating dan buoy remains easy to see all the time.

The tall dan buoy remains stationary and visible, with self–lighting strobe, marking your less–visible man overboard. At night, the light reflective tracer woven in to the Reelsling retrieval line makes it easier to see and avoid fouling in your propeller. Furthermore, generous use of SOLAS light reflective tape on the Reelsling float’s perimeter makes the float easier to see.

3. Hoist Aboard

Although it is most convenient for the overboard crew to climb up the Recovery Ladder, sometimes that is not possible or not recommended; read on about horizontal recovery.

The Recovery Ladder Can Also Retrieve Disabled Crew

The dual–purpose design of the Recovery Ladder enables rescue of a disabled, injured, or hypothermic crew, who either cannot or should not try to pull himself from the water using the ladder rungs.

To make this recovery, fasten a halyard or block and tackle to the bottom–most point of the Recovery Ladder. The MOB floats into the pocket formed by the Recovery Ladder, or onboard crew may pull him into the pocket with the Reelsling retrieval line. Crew on board then raises the halyard to recover the MOB. The recovery ladder gives 2 to 1 mechanical advantage to the hoist by virtue of the ancient principle of parbuckle lifting.

image of parbuckle


MOB ladder uphaul feature

Webbing loop at ladder bottom

You May Need a Block and Tackle

Ahead of need, consider whether you will need a multipart purchase for mechanical advantage in hoisting your crew aboard. In use on sailboat or powerboat, fasten a halyard or block and tackle to the webbing loop at ladder’s bottom. On a sailboat, hoist your crew aboard with windlass or halyard winch. On a powerboat, you may need a block and tackle at the ready.

It’s Not Hard

The ladder is not rigid but soft, made of fabric and webbing. On any boat with swimstep, sail or power, using the Recovery Ladder sidesteps injury caused by the swimstep smashing down on, or rapidly ascend into, struggling overboard crew. A standard rigid boarding ladder can also gravely injure crew when the boat rolls or pitches during recovery. The soft construction of the SOS Marine Recovery Ladder makes recovery safer.

How to Stow

Use Its Integral Storage Pouch

The Recovery Ladder has a built–in mesh storage pouch with zipper. You won't lose the pouch because it’s sewn onto the ladder!





Check the FAQs for answers to questions about the Reelsling.



A mesh sleeve is available which keeps the Recovery Ladder ready to use and tidy. If you purchase them together you save the price of shipping on the mesh sleeve.


News from the Fleet

2016 N2E MOB Survivor

(The yacht he fell from, Foil, had thrown him a dan buoy, which did lead them back. He writes:)

[From overboard, with broken collarbone,] …the hard part [was] how to get me on[board]… I tried, unsuccessfully, to climb up…

Val G, 2016 Ensenada Race MOB survivorClick to his complete story in his own words.
SOS Marine™ Recovery Ladder™ was last modified: March 3rd, 2024 by Test

Additional information

Weight 7.00 lbs
Dimensions 19 × 12 × 3 in
Weight (metric)

3.2 kg

Safe working load

463 lbs, 210 kg


Fully deployed: 9′ width x 7½′ height

Dimensions (metric)

Fully deployed: 275 cm x 230 cm


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