Mailport: January 2012
I was prompted to send this email after seeing the photos of failed chainplates in the November 2011 and December issues. Over Columbus Day weekend, I was sailing my father’s 1974 Pearson 30 to Block Island, R.I., from Newport, R.I., in the annual NYC Columbus Day race when things got exciting 3 miles south of Point Judith in 15- to 20-knot winds and 3- to 4-foot seas. I heard a loud bang, and looked up to find the jib and top half of the mast gone. The windward chainplate for the upper shroud gave way, and within the blink of an eye, the top of the mast was touching the water and the jib/headfoil were under the boat. Fortunately, no one was injured, and after about an hour and a half, we had everything back onboard and secured.
It turned out that the stainless chainplate failed due to prolonged contact with rotting balsa core in the deck, wet from chainplate leaks and somewhat concealed by the chainplate deck plate. Clearly, owners of older Pearson 30s should check their chainplates carefully, and ideally remove them for inspection and replacement. I have also seen one fail on a Pearson 30 due to metal fatigue from stress as the bulkhead the chainplate was bolted to wasn’t aligned with the shroud.
Next: Flare Disposal