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Chain Plate Leaks

Started by kfink, Aug 26, 2023, 06:41 PM

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Hi there!  New member and hopeful Precision 23 owner here.

Am looking at a Precision 23 for sale that has some evident leakage at the chain plates (see attached pictures).  I understand this may be a fairly common issue with them.

What I'm wanting to know is...what am I getting into with repairing these leaks, and how much potential damage is there?  I am way less than expert on sounding out a deck, but it did seem like there is at least a couple inches of hollow sounding deck around the plates when tapped with a mallet.  There is some cracking in the gelcoat around the chain plate base. 

If I understand correctly, the deck on these boats is foam cored - does that decrease the potential risk of deck issues from this sort of leakage, vis-a-vis a balsa or plywood cored boat?You cannot view this attachment.

Does it make sense to hire a survey to investigate further?  Overall, the boat (and 89) seems in moderately good repair.  I am a relatively new boat owner, but a moderately experienced dinghy sailor and fairly handy in other respects, so am not averse to putting some work into a boat worth it, You cannot view this attachment.which You cannot view this attachment.You cannot view this attachment.   it seems like the P23's generally are!You cannot view this attachment.You cannot view this attachment.You cannot view this attachment.You cannot view this attachment.   


Welcome aboàrd ,wow 7 days and no responce ,looking at these pics all deck hardware is suspect monkey fir is moldy follow your nose its gotta reek p23 great boat with furler. newer sails. trailer and it floats hopefully others will chime in,

Dave Scobie

I don't know the boat in detail but generally -

The chainplates need to be pulled out and inspected for crevice corrosion.  Very very dangerous situation that must be checked!

The bulkheads and knees need to be checked for rot.  If present full replacement required.

The headliner carpet needs to be cleaned, search for 'mold cleaning' recommendations.  Likely will never remove all the stains.  The black mold must be remediated as can be very dangerous and bad for health.


Looking at the photos of this boat, it seems like it might have been leaking for some time. My P23 (1988) had some stains in the "monkey fur", but maybe only about 15% of what I see here. My buddy John and I pulled out the chain plates about two years ago, cleaned the area and re-bedded them with 3M 5200. We replaced all the bolts as well with new stainless steel ones. The old ones looked fine, but while we were at it.... Not sure it was necessary since this should, in theory, be a dry area. We then sealed up around the base of the plates (on deck) with more 5200. It seems to be staying watertight. I don't remember seeing any wood core in that area that could have gotten damaged. Maybe some other guys can chime in as this was one of my first projects on this boat and I didn't know to look for this specifically.
I suppose if you are getting a good enough deal on this boat, and you don't mind yanking out all the headliner fur and cleaning it thoroughly, it might be worth it. I feel that the P23 sails pretty well and is about the right size for me. I usually have one or two crew besides me, but I have had as many as five (Me, wife, two twenty something sons and a college aged niece) and we weren't overly cramped for a daysail.
Towards the end of our first season, I started noticing she was taking on water slowly when she went through chop to windward. It took a while, but I found someone to do the barrier coat/anti fouling paint job. I had the thru hull where the knot meter was replaced (seemed to be a leak culprit).
She now seems watertight. I have several more things I want to do (electrical, sails, and motor), but am enjoying the process of learning about boats (first one).
Good luck in your search. Depending on your skill and patience level this could be a good boat if everything else looks solid. Or, you may want to find one that's in better shape. The money spent up front on a different boat may get you sailing quicker.
Long post, but maybe it gives you a couple more things to look for.

Brian N.

+1 to what Dave Scobie said. My concern is that it is obviously not a new problem and the previous owner let it get that bad. I would not rate the boat as "overall in good repair" Appears to be a project that might revel much more as you dig into the repairs. Soft core around the deck is a very bad sign.
Fair winds
Brian N.

Brian S

That looks like a lot of mold to me. Yes, there are 2 formulas of mold treatment you can find which could help. However, on that bulkhead, it looks like under the chainplate could be some rot. I'd be poking around the plate with a pocket knife of awl to make sure there's no soft wood. Worst case scenario you are replacing the bulkheads. At least they seem in decent dimensional shape so can serve as templates for new plywood.

From reading the Precision forums over the years, this is the one place that needs consistent attention maybe every 5 to 10 years. Most people re-bed with 5200. I'm thinking that 5200 is not flexible enough in this application. I think 4200 might be more flexible, but still not convinced. These products are, after all, adhesives more than sealants, though they are used interchangeably for these purposes. I remember a person who decided to seal the chainplates with liberal use of Bed-it butyl tape, which is no longer sold by Compass Marine, and appears to be sold by Hamilton Marine. Butyl tape remains flexible throughout its life, and the Bed-it brand sold by RC Collins of Compass Marine was a marine specific formulation.

As for the deck, I don't know any boat manufacturers other than maybe Morris or Hinckley who would take the time to "pot" deck penetrations with epoxy to prevent rotting. Hell, most can't even be bothered to countersink the holes allowing for more sealant contact to fasteners to prevent (or forestall) leaking in the first place. I suppose if I had to pull out chainplates all the way for inspection and possible bulkhead replacement, I could go to town on the slots and dig out core as best as possible, fill with epoxy and redo the slots. I think most manufacturers would put plywood in that area of the core, rather than just leaving exposed balsa.


FWIW, I replaced both bulkheads in our P21, and it's not that imposing a job. The P21 uses a different 2 piece chainplate that is less prone to leaking. However, if you have to replace the bulkheads, it's quite feasible. Can provide more detail if needed.
Talbot Bielefeldt
Precision 21 "Starlight"
Fern Ridge Lake, Oregon