Door Guards with Netting

For Safety at Sea for Captains, Grandchildren and Other Small Mammals

THE PROBLEM: We travel a lot with the pilot house doors open. This creates a safety hazard, particularly in a seaway where it is relatively easy to get pitched or stumble overboard. We have found two very economical steps to reduce this hazard to zero.

aem_1barFIRST, we installed Jim & Mim McCrae’s Door Guards (See NENTOA Great Ideas, Door Guards). This is an elegant solution to pitching out into the briny, much simpler to fabricate and install than you might think. Be sure to install the bars at a height where they don’t interfere with the door latches. (Photo 1)

HOWEVER, if you have small animals or grandchildren aboard, they can fall through the space below the safety bar. So, we fabricated another simple, easy to install solution: Safety Nets to catch them.

aem_2safety_in_placeHere is a photo (Photo 2) of the completed unit: Our Safety Net rests on the step, secured at the top to the McCraes’ Safety Bar by Velcro.

The Safety Nets are simple to construct from rigid PVC pipe and Lifeline Netting

Bill of Material for Two Safety Nets
– 3 10 foot lengths of 1/2 inch rigid PVC pipe
– 8 1/2 inch 90 degree PVC ells.
– Small container of purple PVC pipe solvent
– 4 rail Velcro straps
– 1 10 foot hank of lifeline netting (WestMarine 119669) No clips required.

There is plenty of netting and pipe to make the nets to fit your Safety Bar height. However, the width is rather important, as this is the design dimension of the netting. It should be 24+ inches. A finished width of about 25+ inches will add some needed tension.

– Cut the pipe to length, using a PVC cutter, pipe cutter, or hacksaw: 4 24 inch lengths for the 25+ inch finished width, and 4 lengths to fit the Safety Bar height. (Measure from the top of the step to the middle of the Safety Bar and subtract about 1 1/2 inches for the length added by the ells.)

– Smooth off the pipe cuts, as required, to seat inside the ells.

– Cut the netting into two equal lengths.

– Weave the lower 24 inch bar through the bottom end of one piece of netting.

aem_3step– Install two ells and weave two of the upright pipe lengths through the outer edges of the netting. (Photo 3)

– Important: Adjust the height of the netting to form rectangles in the netting as designed.

– Insert the top two ells and weave the top cross bar.

– Cut off the excess netting above the top bar as soon as you are happy with the appearance of the netting. If properly stretched, the netting tension will hold the assembly together.

aem_4straps– Test fit to the door, resting it on the step. Secure the top rail with two pieces of Velcro to the Safety Bar. We used them this way for a few days to make sure they were OK, before making the final glued assembly. (Photo 4)

– Once you are satisfied with the fit, you are ready for the final gluing (actually, plastic welding). This must be done on a flat surface protected with newspaper. The flat surface ensures a flat safety net when you are done. It cannot be disassembled once it is welded.

aem_5assemblednet– Read the directions on the solvent container. You will need to work fast, but this is easy if you lay the loose assembly on the flat surface and glue one corner at a time. (Photo 5)


Al & Evelyn McKenney
Nordic Star – NT 32-178