Mailport: May 2013
I have my mast down on my 1984 Seafarer 30 to do some maintenance. It’s a convenient time to take out my chainplates, give them a good looking over and re-bed them.
One thing Practical Sailor is fond of pointing out is that stainless steel can give out with essentially no warning. I’m not quite sure what to do with this information. I’ll look at my chainplates for obvious problems, but if they might spontaneously combust anyway, I’m hardly going to be re-installing them with confidence. Would replacing them as a precautionary measure be overkill?
Reckless Abandon III, Seafarer 30
Silver Spring, Md.
Replacing seemingly healthy chainplates simply as a precaution is unnecessary. Stainless chainplates are usually designed with a safety margin much higher than the standing rigging, and they typically will show some sign of degradation—weeping, pitting, etc.—before they fail. The best precaution you can take is to inspect them regularly. When in doubt, hire a qualified rigger or surveyor. Inspection is difficult—or impossible—if chainplates are buried in fiberglass. It’s a good idea to create easy access to the chainplates, if it doesn’t already exist.
For more on chainplates—failures and replacement options—and marine metals, check out the December 2011, February 2007, and Feb. 15, 2005 issues.
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