In the last two articles regarding life lines we discussed the actual wire runs and the pulpits and stanchions that support them. We defined life lines as a system. Being a system, we are concerned with the “weakest link” theory. That is to say that every part of the system needs to be in order. One missing or bent ring pin, kinked stanchion, or wet mounting area becomes the standard of integrity by which the rest of the system is measured.
Having a proper set up on the wire runs and good pulpits/stanchion configurations that can withstand shock loads is obviously important. But what are the conditions of the mounting areas on the deck? Will these areas support the stanchions and pulpits, or fail when a load is imposed? One can only imagine the different deck constructions that are out there relative to mounting stanchion and pulpit bases. Rather than list as many types of deck construction, I urge boat owners to visually inspect their own boat’s construction at the stanchion and pulpit mounting areas.
If a mounting area seems to be insufficient or damaged you will need to address those areas. Look for cracking around mounting plates and for signs of leakage around the fastener holes. Left to it’s own; a moist deck area will only get worse. You should consult a reputable boat yard to inspect these areas with a moisture reader. Repairs may be necessary.
Most late-model boats have sufficient laminated decks with sandwiched cores. These cores though substantial, are still susceptible to moisture damage. Think of the abuse that stanchions and pulpits receive; hitting docks, suspending fenders, people pulling on them and such. It would be hard to argue that maintaining these areas through periodic re-installation is an unnecessary endeavor. Older boats that had simple layered glass deck construction (3/16″ thick) are prone to failure when lateral loads are imposed. Adding support in these areas is highly recommended. Using a backing plate that is sufficiently larger than the stanchion base will assist spreading the shock loads.
When re-bedding the base, a proper bedding compound such as Boatlife’s, life-calk is recommended. This is not a silicone sealant but a polysulfide adhesive. A liberal amount of bedding compound should be put down on the base footprint and into the holes themselves. The bases can then be re-installed. When securing the fasteners the bolt or machine screw should be inserted into the sealed hole without turning it so as not to disturb the seal made with the calk. The nuts should do the tightening. Once in place the excess bedding compound is wiped away while still wet with a rag and lacquer thinner leaving a clean fillet shaped edge at the deck /base interface.
Like any other system on the boat the life lines should be regularly inspected for possible failure points. Small amounts of maintenance and repair far out-weigh the need for the safety that this system can provide. For further discussion please contact the Torresen Marine Service Department. Best sailing to all.
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