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U-bolt Chainplates

shank

.
Apr 20, 2016
83
Catalina 27 Lake Champlain
Hi, I was reading an article on Practical Sailor about the most common issues and problems with Catalina 27s and he mentioned that owners should check the lower shroud U-bolt chainplates to see if they have been upgraded. A number of the original fittings have failed, causing the rig to go over the side. I've owned mine 27 for less than a year and I'm not sure how to check to see if I still have the older fittings. I have an 82 model; how likely is it that my boat has these? I doubt they were changed by the previous owner. Is this something I should change out right away and do I have to drop the mast to do it? I see Catalina Direct sells a Chainplate U-Bolt Retrofit Kit. Thanks
 

RoyS

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Jun 3, 2012
1,167
Hunter 33 Steamboat Wharf, Hull, MA
Timely story for me. Last Friday while sailing to Marblehead, MA one side of my split backstay snapped off. At the time we were doing great in 14 knots of wind about 45 degrees off the starboard side. All sails up and considering a reef when the 3/8" Ubolt snapped off and flew across the cockpit. Mast stayed up. Had to drop sails and run two halyards aft to the toe rail to be certain the mast stayed up. As far as I know the stainless ubolt is forty years old. I read that you should pull these for inspection every five years or so but I never did. Replacing later this week with a Wichard model that is clearly a stronger design than the original. My suggestion is if you have any doubts about a ubolt then replace it with a made for purpose unit and not a hardware store item.

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Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,416
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
I've owned mine 27 for less than a year and I'm not sure how to check to see if I still have the older fittings. I have an 82 model; how likely is it that my boat has these? I doubt they were changed by the previous owner. Is this something I should change out right away and do I have to drop the mast to do it? I see Catalina Direct sells a Chainplate U-Bolt Retrofit Kit. Thanks
Yes, you need to do it.... No, it is not necessary to drop the mast. The uppers keep the mast secure. The Catalina Yachts customer service dept should be able to help you with more specific questions. The retrofit kit is essentially a set of four big backing plates that are easily visible inside the cabin. Look at the ceiling above the window, Your boat may already have this upgrade.... it looks like this:
It keeps the deck from warping.
 

shank

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Apr 20, 2016
83
Catalina 27 Lake Champlain
Oh, man. That sounds scary, Roy. I'm glad that you were able to recover from that with minimal damage. Sounds like it could have been much worse.
 

shank

.
Apr 20, 2016
83
Catalina 27 Lake Champlain
Thanks, Joe. I'll check for those backing plates next time I'm out next time on the boat. Hopefully, it has already been done. I feel a little better that the boat has been in freshwater its whole life.

I'll look for a rigger in my area too for a rigging inspection, @sail sfbay. Thanks for that suggestion.
 

Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,416
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
I feel a little better that the boat has been in freshwater its whole life.
I'm not really sure why that would make any difference. Do your inspections based on what you see, not what someone has told you. I've seen just as many poorly maintained freshwater boats as those kept is saltwater.

Just to be clear, the chainplate issue was announced early in the C27's run, and owners in the day were made aware of it, thus the existence of the retro kit, and most owners chose to make the change. I've never heard of an actual rig failure, but rather a distortion of the deck by over tightening. Even if you broke a lower shroud, it's unlikely the mast would come down unless there were severe conditions.
This and other known issues are mentioned in a document that was included in a packet I received from Catalina Yachts when I acquired my C27 back in 1999. That's right, the customer service dept sent me a complete owners packet for a 22 year old boat. Anyway, that information used to be available on the owner's website www.catalina27.org and through the "Mainsheet" quarterly publication for all Catalina owners. I'm not sure if that site is still up.... As I recall other issues included: replacing gate valves and cheaply installed plumbing with proper bronze through hulls and ball valves. Inadequate cockpit drainage. ............. that's all I can remember now.
 
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shank

.
Apr 20, 2016
83
Catalina 27 Lake Champlain
Makes sense. I thought the chainplate issue was partially accelerated by corrosion from saltwater but it sounds like it was just an overall design issue impacting all boats of that vintage.

That's impressive that they would reach out to you 22 years later and provide that kind of usage data and what to look out for.