As part of my ongoing maintenance and search for any weak spots on Aeolus, I've tackled the replacing of both chainplates. The original plates, dating to 1988, had no obvious signs of corrosion or cracks, but there is that always suspicious space between the decking that hides the weak spot.
We all know sailors who have had a shroud snap or lost their rig, and there is nothing remotely funny about it. Among the greatest fears of any sailor is losing their rig, and this fear can be easily assuaged by routine replacing of parts. So, I pulled out my chainplates and decided to replace them no matter what I found. Turns out that when pulled there was no sign of cracking or corrosion even in the space between the decking, but diagnosing crevice corrosion and metal fatigue is a high-tech business.
I didn't need to spend big $ or do fancy testing to know I was not about to put 23 year old chainplates back on my boat, especially when the replacement cost is so reasonable.
I decided to order new chainplates from Garhauer, having had good experiences with their products in the past and knowing they can fabricate things quite well. My original plates were 1/8" and that seemed a bit thin to me. So I upgraded to 3/16" and had them match a template I sent for the new ones. The total cost for both chainplates was about $250. Quite reasonable in my opinion. They look beautiful.
This past weekend, on the night before we headed out to Stuart Island, I installed the new chainplate on the port side and am thrilled that it fit perfectly. The holes all lined up with the holes in the bulkhead and I didn't have to do any modifications. Everything installed just 1-2-3 and with a bit of lanacote on the turnbuckles the whole system was tensioned and we were off.
Replacing the chainplates was the very last piece of metal involved in my rigging that I had not replaced as new, besides the mast. Now I know for certain that the entire rig is solid, and that when I am beam reaching in a 30 knot SE wind in the Straits of Georgia with steep 4-6 foot seas that I do not have to worry (so much) about possible rig failure. Big peace of mind.