Friday, February 15, 2013

Chainplates in Antigua

We enjoyed our trip up in the north of Antigua and over cocktails we talked to Bobby Ward about some maintenance issues.

Vista at Rabbit Island, on the north coast of Antigua
Captain Courageous looking into a blow-hole that is over 100 feet deep
Crap - that is a long way down!
Our mast is held up by 9 wire cables (shrouds and stays) that attach to the boat at the chainplates.  Chainplates are big stainless steel bars that are bedded to the fiberglass of the boat as it is being build.  There have been some catastrophic failures of chainplates on sailboats due to corrosion and metal fatigue.  A good way to avoid catastrophy - something we try to avoid - is to make sure all the parts are properly maintained.
Tensioning the Rig 101
Adding more tension to the rig

Rig tension is important - a loose rig will allow too much movement and a too tight rig can cause things to snap.  Also, when water gets into the spaces between the fiberglass and wood, and seeps down into the chainplates, corrosion can occur so it is important to make sure there is a good bond to keep water from getting in.

So... knowing all that... and buddy-boating for a few days with IP wizard Bobby Ward, Glen shamefully exploited the Wards' friendship and dove into the maintenance tasks.

One at a time (Bobby says you can do several at once and the mast won't fall but Glen is a skeptic) we took off each of the cables and opened up the space around the chainplates.  You need a variety of tools - we thought our dentist at home, Aldo, would have been extremely helpful because he has done various root canals and chainplate maintenance is much like a root canal.
Patient teacher

Yes, grasshopper - but you don't need a hammer

A finished chainplate - we will be the pride of the fleet
You could use Novocaine, but Glen used beer.  Then you remove all of the old bedding material - which requires exacto-knifes, dental picks, hemostats, pliers, a dremel tool and a paring knife.  When all the old material has been removed and the chainplate is exposed and open, you clean it all up with sandpaper (don't think Aldo used sandpaper,) wash it out with acetone and then inject a miraculous, space-age material that will bond to wood AND to stainless steel.

And Bingo... you're done.  Except every hour or so Glen, on his solos, would run into a problem and have to radio the Wizard for his help.

But we are done just in time because Gra'inne is going to be sailing off into the sunset in a couple of days.  Probably getting tired of doing chainplates.  We hope will run into them again down the islands because we will likely have something else to fix... and because we have really enjoyed their company!
Two-for-one pizza night at Al Porto.  Yumm!

Wadadli Beer - good

A haul-out in your own back yard.  This boat is registered in Toronto.

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