What are they, and what’s their job?
Chainplates are metal plates (usually made from stainless steel) used to attach a shroud or stay to the hull of a sail boat. They transfer load from the rigging (the lines, cables etc which support the mast) to the deck and the hull.
Where are they found?
Most standard chainplates are found amidships bolted to the hull, cabin sides, or to a bulkhead. They pass from inside the cabin, up through the deck, usually through a chainplate cover and then bolted to the deck. The job of the chainplate cover is mainly to stop water getting into the cabin.
What can go wrong?
Two things mainly. Due to the loads inflicted upon them, they’ll eventually start to leak. Then when sea water seeps in corrosion is inevitable. Chainplate failure can be catastrophic and is one of the leading causes of dismasting on older boats.
How will you know something isn’t right?
You’ll see evidence on the hardware (corrosion) and perhaps watermarks around their installation in the cabin.
How do you maintain them?
- Visual inspection: This article gives some practical advice about how to visually inspect them. He recommends to do this annually.
- Rebedding: In this article the author documents and photographs the process he went through to rebed the chainplates on his yacht after they started to leak.