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Stanchion bases

31 March, 2017

Often I find stress cracks to the gelcoat of yacht decks around the bases of stanchions. Whilst they are not normally structural they do indicate that high loads have been applied to the stanchions and caused the deck to flex more than the gelcoat can tolerate.

The cause is normally crew members using the stanchions to pull themselves up from the pontoon to board the vessel. The length of the stanchion is long and creates huge leverage forces against the all too small backing pad on the stanchion base.

The stress cracks can be repaired easily enough but its much easier to prevent the crew from using the stanchions as levers in the first place. Use the shrouds to pull yourself on deck. The fittings here are much stronger and will not crack the gelcoat. Remember the stanchions are to support the guard rails and designed to prevent you falling overboard at sea not for pulling yourself onboard in harbour.

Ideally the backing pads should be larger to help spread the loads and make the structure stronger. Unfortunately removing the linings and panels internally to gain access can be a larger job than fitting larger backing pads so often doesn't get done.

Lastly, don't forget to fit and check the retaining grub screw or split pin to secure the stanchion post to the base plate, it's missing in the image above.