During the Great River Race of 2009 I was standing on the ladder looking out with the boat at a slight heel. The front steps came loose and I started to fall. I think what happened is that I grabbed the third step to hold on. It lifted up and let the bottom two steps loose. Fortunately I caught myself very quickly and did not get hurt. But this highlighted an safety concern that needed to be fixed right away.
Here I show the problem and how I fixed it.
This companionway ladder goes up to the deck. The bottom two steps are attached to the front piece. The third step is attached to the counter top piece. The top step is a separate detachable unit that is not of concern for this discussion.
This video shows how the steps can be made to easily fall forward and hurt someone.
Here is the counter top turned upside down. I made this plate out of a piece of copper I had laying around. I drilled an tapped a 1/4x20 hole to accept a knurled thumb screw. I then through bolted it in place with a backing plate.
After several abortive internet searches I found some knurled knobs and 2" studs at McMaster-Carr. I soldered a knob and stud together to make this knurled thumb screw shown mounted in the front.
Here it is shown in the secured position. The thumb screw goes into the hole in the plate. The tops of the through bolts holding the plate are visible. With this change any lifting of the counter top will also lift the bottom two steps with it. To acces the engine I undo this thumb screw and then lift the countertop slightly. Then I can move the front out of the way. With the thumbscrew tight the chances of coming undone on its own are now slim to none.