The Next Big Thing For Pontoon Ladders

April 2018 Multimedia, Feature Web Exclusive

Assume the position. That position is often flat on your stomach with your arm reaching deep into the water in an attempt to retrieve the bottom half of the boarding ladder the kids left down after swimming. You could get mad at one of them for leaving it down, but depending on their ages it might be asking a lot if you expect them to pull up the ladder on their own.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the captain could just hit a rocker switch from the helm console and not have to worry about recruiting someone strong and agile enough to pull it up when the swimming was done?

Apparently we’re not the only ones who think this would make boating more enjoyable as Dan Kincaid from northern Indiana has developed a system that, when attached to a rear-entry ladder, will raise and lower the bottom half with a simple press of a button. It essentially eliminates the need for long straps or getting down on your hands and knees to retrieve the folding ladder. Kincaid used to work for a pontoon ladder manufacturer so this is an idea he’s had for quite some time.

“One of the biggest complaints we used to hear from customers was having to get all the way down on their hands and knees to raise the ladder bottom or having a very long strap tied to it which can be dangerous for a lot of reasons,” said Kincaid. “I designed the unit to be compatible with the aluminum folding rear-entry style ladder and it can easily be added to most ladders – new or used – including a stainless steel one.”

The actuator is used to move a hinge that Kincaid designed himself and it will move a full 180 degrees but will only allow the ladder to open so far before it stops. It closes snug, but not tight enough that it could pinch your fingers if they accidentally got in the way. And if the ladder was left down by mistake while the boat was underway, there is a little give to it as well.

“I designed the parts myself since it’s not something you can just pick up in the store,” said Kincaid as he demonstrated his ladder to the [PDB] magazine staff. “I designed it so all you have to do is use a rocker switch and add this piece to your ladder and it will raise and lower it using 12 volts.”

Since dealing with ladders is a common issue for all boaters, Kincaid is interested in talking with pontoon manufacturers who might want to partner up with him to make this an option on new boats leaving the factory. But for now he’s set up to offer his system as a DIY aftermarket package for those tired of messing with their own ladders.

“It’s really simple to install and I would like to just sell the hinge and actuator instead of a complete ladder,” adds Kincaid. “In looking around on the lakes, a good number of boats already have a ladder so I wanted to design a hinge that could be easily installed on different styles of ladders.”

The complete DIY aftermarket package retails for $150 and includes the actuator, switches, wiring and the hinge and is now available by calling or emailing Kincaid directly. With just a press of a button, the meaning of the phrase, “assume the position” could change to just asking your passengers to take a seat because you’re about to take off instead of a request for someone to reach down and pull up the ladder. Now that’s user-friendly boating at its best. 

For more information Dan Kincaid can be reached at 574-354-0123 or you can email him at

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!

Click here to read the current issue.

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.