In October of 2020, in La Paz Mexico we had to get new chainplates. Getting new chainplates is a big job, but we took it day by day. Here's our story.

Phase-2 would turn out to be the hardest and most expensive phase of the multi-project upgrade we took on this October with our sailboat Tulum-5, but the challenges were not unexpected.  This phase started in February in La Cruz, Banderas Bay Mexico when I decided to get a random rig inspection on the boat by someone with a lot of sea miles and rigging experience, “The Cruising Sailmaker” Jamie Gifford of the sailboat Totem.  He diagnosed us as needing new rigging now and made sure to discuss our chainplates with me; something I had not put a lot of time and effort into since buying the boat. That afternoon I went down and tore the pieces of teak out of the inside of my tiny cave like closet…only to reveal what could be most easily described as a rusty streak down the wall.  Not a great sign…signals rust and water intrusion from the deck above down through the chainplate (to me).  And, on our boat the chainplates are fiberglassed into the boat, so it’s very hard to inspect the plates themselves.  Suspicion began to creep into my brain that we may have original forty-four-year-old chainplates, a scary perspective knowing the boat had already circumnavigated and knowing I had suspect rigging that needed to be changed out quickly.  To make this story shorter…we babied the rig through summer in the Sea of Cortez and made sure to get a reservation with a well-known welder in La Paz to do the chainplate work.

Thinking we’d be in the boatyard for just seven days (read my Phase-1 post for that story), ha-ha-ha, I made sure to contact Mr. Sergio Gallindo and get him to come do the initial survey for the chainplates on the boat, do the measurements and start the initial markings on the hull while in the yard.

Sergio and I had already discussed the chainplates and I had decided to have chainplates put on the outside of the hull for the ease of inspection and that we would just leave the old chainplates in place.  We decided to simply knock out the old bolts (they were already through the hull) and drill through the hull, old chainplates and remaining fiberglass to put on the new chainplates plus additional backing plates on the inside to make sure everything was bomber strong.  So that’s what we did.  It was easier said than done.

Getting to the drill holes where the old bolts went through the old chainplates turned out to be much more of an ordeal than either Sergio or I had bargained for; in the end we hired a local carpenter who came around and simply took half the side of the boat’s cabinets and joinery OFF, turning the boat into shambles.  But this did give us access to the holes as needed and Sergio and his crew was able to continue the work of drilling and installing the chainplates.  Finally, after four days of frenzy and backbreaking work both inside the boat (inside cabinets and furniture) and outside the boat going through our hull, the carpenter came back and put the boat back together and Sergio and his crew were nearly done. 

Finishing the last chainplate in the bow sail locker, he fashioned a new plate for the outside and declared the chainplates done.  Lastly, Sergio and crew came back and using a grinder, cut away the old chainplates that were above deck level and ground them down below deck level, adding a thick coat of epoxy over the old chainplate nub to waterproof the hole around them.  Later we would fiberglass and paint over the work Sergio had done, making those areas as waterproof as possible.

By the end of Phase-2, we would have brand new custom chainplates ready for Phase-3, which is a replacement off all of our standing rigging and most of our running rigging as well as the addition of brand new Stak-Paks (built by Zoom Sails and purchased through Jamie Gifford- “The Cruising Sailmaker”).  Quick word about our new Stak-Paks…they’re perfect and could not fit better.  They’ve raised the sail and all our sail hardware off the solar panels giving the boat a much more streamlined and clean effect…LOVE THEM.

Here’s Tulum, with new Stak-Paks, chain plates and rigging. 

*A word about Mr. Sergio Gallindo of La Paz Welding and Fabrication:  I hired Sergio for the first time back in December of 19 when I saw his crew on the dock and asked him to add a leg to support my Big Green Egg on the boat.  I didn’t think he’d really show up, but he did and he did a great weld on that leg.  So, knowing that Sergio was a true metal artist and getting a recommendation from Rich Boren about his work, I reached to Sergio by email to make sure he was available and requested that he specifically procure and use 316L for our chainplates (which he did).  I also wanted to make sure we were on his schedule because I know how busy he gets and wanted to make sure we were on the docket in La Paz before the influx of Baja Ha-Ha (or Nada Ha-Ha) boats that traditionally come into La Paz in early November.  Sergio Gallindo is a professional welder with over 20 years of experience working in a major west coast boatyard, presenting me with a written estimate and doing what he said he would do.  We’re very thankful for the hard work that he and his crew did…our chainplates look awesome and I would recommend his services.  He’s easy to find in La Paz and has a site on Facebook.

The man, hard at work.

We came to La Paz in April for a complete re-rig, but Covid-19 had started to bloom here at that time and most businesses were closing, meaning most marine services became unavailable.  So, we spent the summer in the Sea of Cortez and babied Tulum, knowing we needed to be purposefully conservative on the rig and chainplates to avoid unnecessary drama.  We came into La Paz in October to haul-out, get new chainplates and get re-rigged + knock out loads of side projects…and that’s what happened.  Next week Phase-3, Getting Tulum Re-Rigged.

We’re LF2SF…and we live on our boat with our two kids and a Great Dane, isolating from Covid as much as possible and continuing to cruise in order to travel the slow way.  Yes, we’ve been in La Paz, BCS doing the refit that we’re covering in three different Saturday blog posts.  Please stick with us and FOLLOW us…as we’re about to get up and out of here and go back to cruising again…Southern Crossing time next week.  

We write the good and bad parts of our traveling and cruising so there’s no sugarcoating that goes into maintaining this sailing life.  Without you, there would be no blog or website, so please keep following us.  Wanna become more involved, check out our Patreon Site








4 Responses

  1. Looks like you did a fantastic job replacing the chainplates. I agree going for the exterior plate is far superior. People tend to not replace them because of the same issue you had with them. They are in a hard to reach spot.

    I’m sure you’ve looked it over already but the mast tangs are another critical piece that gets over looked when upgrading the rigging.

    Good on you for keeping your family and boat safe.

    1. Good catch on the mast tangs, I’ll look at them thanks for the reminder! We’d be thrilled if u stayed with us and we’ll take any advice! Chad

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