Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Chain Plates!

Replacing the chain plates is a project that I'd wanted to do for a long time. The chain plates are the bases that the standing rigging (the cables that hold up the mast) attach to, so their integrity is pretty important! Ours were as old as the boat, 40 years. Because they pass through the deck and are buried in fiberglass, it was impossible to inspect them completely, so we just made the assumption, erring on the side of caution, and bit the pricey bullet to replace them while the boat was out of the water for the summer. It also helped that we had removed all our possessions and taken them with us to the townhouse, as the work would involve getting into many of the storage lockers. 

Access to remove and replace them was going to be problematic. It looked like there was no way to do the job without destroying some cabinetry. We proposed instead to install the new ones on the outside of the boat, leaving the old ones in place to use as backing plates. This would give it a strappy, classic look that we were grudgingly coming to accept, though not as sleek as the original, it would do the job safely and well. It was also the approach that many people on the CSY owners forums had taken. 

So we were surprised and delighted when the staff at Oasis said they thought they could give us internal replacement chain plates that exactly matched the originals and that approach would be cheaper than the external installation we anticipated. Yes! Let's do this!

What we thought the job was going to look like - external straps. This is on a big sister sistership to Cinderella, a CSY 37 named "Independence."

Another set of external straps; this is "Glory," the boat of our sailing mentor David in the Virgin Islands.

And now for the work on Cinderella: 

First they removed the bronze rub rail so they could drill out the bolts holding the old chain plates in place.

Ryan showed me several places where there was rust or hairline cracks. If these things had broken under load (like during a strong wind when we were sailing), the mast could have come down!

The old chain plates weren't as damaged as he'd first feared, but it was "definitely time" to replace them, he confirmed.

Marina employee Cody drilling out the bolt holes in the new chain plate, using the old one as an exact pattern.

And the installation! With all that careful prep work, the new pieces slipped right in.

Instead of my nightmare of ripping out cabinetry, the only sign they had disturbed anything was this cut in a pantry shelf. They had removed the shelf to access the old chain plates. After drilling out the bolts from the outside, the chain plates could be lifted up, then down and out, and the new ones put in the same way. The cut shelf is generally hidden behind a door, and in any case, it is usually covered with cans or jars of food. 

Here's the cut at the other end of the same shelf, and the new chain plate bolted to the side of the hull.

The view from top side, with the standing rigging attached to the new tab. The part of the chain plates above deck was polished for weather resistance, the part hidden below was coated with a rust-protective coating.

Another shiny new attachment above deck - boat jewelry!

And the below deck part, this one inside a locker -- strong and solid.

The sleek look was not compromised at all. (The mast was reinstalled the day after this photo was taken.) 


  1. Nice to see how this project played out for you. We’re on the same path, as Sionna’s bronze chainplates (14 of them!!) are 57 years old...
    But unlike you, I’m excited about moving them to the outside of the hull and eliminating 14 possible leaks in the deck! Negotiations with my other half are ongoing. ;-)

  2. Leak elimination makes sense. We were delighted to discover that after the job was complete we were 100% dry. Not only were there no new leaks, but places that had leaked before, no longer did. Awesome.