Airship Boarding Concepts by ~the-gneech on deviantART
I've received a lot of helpful feedback on the design of the pirate airship Turnabout ( http://the-gneech.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d5areop ), and one of the recurring topics of discussion has been "How do boarding actions occur?"
The top scenario ("Normandy") is what I originally had in mind, but isn't without its drawbacks. Here are some other thoughts I was playing around with as well.
Also, I'm currently leaning away from propellers and fans and towards maneuvering jets which use the same orichalcum gas that keeps the airship bouyant. This provides a nice tie-in to the fictional "technology" I've already got in place, and also provides a good reason why a ship would primarily use sails-- bleed off too much, and you fall from the sky!