When was the last time you inspected your chainplates? Shrouds and tangs, of course, because they’re easy to see, but the chainplates themselves. If you take the time, and carefully inspect all parts of the rig, you can prevent failures – and losing the rig is at best a bad thing.
Many boat owners, especially those with newer boats, aren’t real sure what a chainplate is, or how essential to the rig they are. Since they provide the foundation of the rig at the base of the shrouds and stays, they’re often masked behind surfaces and seat backs.
They can be hidden or right out in view, as in these pictures from Ericson Yachts
Regardless, they bear huge loads, and are a common point of failure. Remember, stainless is not permanent, and is subject to metal fatigue and corrosion, especially after about ten years. At that point, it becomes a very good idea to inspect the chainplates, fore and aft, side to side, when you’re planning a cruise, and especially if you sail in heavy air or seas. We’ve all “replaced” our standing rigging without a thought to the chainplates.
Look at the photo above. When this happens, your rig gets very unhappy, and so will you. Get down below and take a good hard look at those plates and straps. Or better yet, ask your rigger or a surveyor for an inspection. The worst thing that can happen is nothing, and that’s good.