The before photo of our Bristol 26 sailboat chainplate and chainplate knee replacement.
The chainplate knees were covered in carpet and fiberglass covers when we got the boat

One of the first things we wanted to do was get rid of the carpet and felt lining on the inside of the cabin. There was a 1970’s yellow-brown felt adhered to the cabin walls, and pieces of blue carpet were glued on top of the felt at some later time. Both were moldy and darkened the cabin quite a bit. Our plan was to remove this fabric, then clean and paint the walls white to match the cabin roof liner.

After removing the carpet and fiberglass covers, I realized we had a bit more work on our hands than we planned on. There was a gap between the chainplate knees and the deck of the boat. The upward pull of the rigging was causing the knee to separate from the inside of the cabin, as it was only attached to the side of the hull. Upon further inspection, the knees on the starboard side were constructed the same way, and were starting to separate from the hull too. I guess we’ll be spending more time fiberglassing and less time sailing this summer.

The old chainpmate knee delaminated from the hull on our bristol 26 sailboat
The upward pressure on the poorly constructed knee pulled the fiberglass away from the hull.

The chainplate was also leaking and had rotted the plywood shelf under it. I decided to remove all of this and replace the knee. I wanted to integrate the new knee into a both the new shelf and the bottom of the deck, making it much stronger.

Removing the shelf and plywood in the dinette of our Bristol 26 sailboat.
Removing the shelf and plywood in the dinette of our Bristol 26 sailboat.

The benefit to this poorly installed structure was that it was pretty easy to remove. A hammer and a construction chisel were all I needed to remove most of the fiberglass, which minimized the grinding and sanding I’d have to do later.

The chainplate knee and shelf is removed on our Bristol 26 sailboat.
Here it is with everything removed–it’s time to build a better structure.

Doing this project while the boat was on it’s mooring was challenging–I must have made some people wonder as I was hauling tools and rotten plywood back and forth to the public boat launch where my truck was. In part 2, I’ll finish the project.

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