Stanchion Bases

Stanchion Base
“Socket Style Stanchion Base”

Stanchion bases are an often forgotten about, yet important, portion of our boat. They are responsible for giving our boat’s lifelines ‘a foot to stand on’ – so to speak. Unfortunately, stanchion bases are also a major reason for soft decks. We (at The Rigging Co.) tend to think this is because of the long fulcrum that is naturally created by the stanchion, breaking the seal under the base.

There are also various styles of bases. I personally prefer a ‘socket style’ base with a drain hole. This allows the stanchion to sit semi-loosely in the base, allowing for a bit more free articulation.

Here the Base is Welded Directly to the Stanchion. Although it Looks Sleek, it is not Preferred.
Here the Base is Welded Directly to the Stanchion. Although it Looks Sleek, it is not Preferred….Very Prone to Cracking! They also tend to bend and distort upon impact, and are therefore quick to leak”

So far, the best design I have seen is one that avoids the stanchion base all together by glassing long tubes with drains into the deck. These tubes extend a couple of feet below the deck just inside the the hull. Then a ‘freakishly’ long stanchion is inserted into these tubes and held in place using either a through-bolt or a drilled and tapped set screw. 

~We, at The Rigging Company (TRC) prefer a drilled and tapped, or through bolted set screw with all of our stanchion bases.

The result is a much stronger stanchion that leaves the deck looking cleaner and best of all, promises no more pesky bases that can leak into your boat’s core. This is still a relatively new design and can be seen on a lot of today’s newer race boats. Unfortunately, we cruisers, will need to wait a little longer until this design makes its way into the cruising boat market as standard equipment.

Tartan Stanchion base
Socket Style Stanchion Base

In the meantime, we will have to do our best not to overlook this very important component. I know, I know….no one likes to deal with these pesky stanchion bases, they are so ‘damn’ hard to reach, sometimes seemingly impossible. It doesn’t help that there are so many of them!

If you are just too bothered to handle it yourself (I don’t blame you), then hire someone to do it for you. Just by taking the time to ensure that they are sealed properly, safe and secure, will make all of the difference in the world to your boat’s longevity, and the safety of your crew.

Resealing the stanchion
EWWW! Make Sure You Scrape, Clean and Acetone Wipe the Old Sealant to Prepare the Surface for the New Sealant.

In general, it is a good idea to re-seal and inspect your stanchion bases every 5 years or so depending on geographical region and use of course.  Regular visual inspection, just like with any other rigging related item, is crucial.

Cracks (regardless of which style base your boat may be equipped with) can always form and will eventually lead to lifeline failure. Some good places to check are welds, or anywhere dissimilar metals are being used.

~Stanchion base failure can translate into a major safety issue. Our life lines need to be able to support our body weight, so that we stay on the boat.

Cracked Stanchion Base
Cracked Stanchion Base, Be Extra Cautious With Aluminum Bases or Stanchions

Some Final Thoughts on Sealant….

….As far as the sealant is concerned, make sure that you (or the individual that you hire) chooses a good adhesive sealant (NOT silicone), one that remains flexible throughout its life span. This is crucial to ensuring a good seal as the base and deck are constantly being worked and tweaked (trying to break the seal) anytime the life line is loaded. We use and recommend Boat Life or 3M UV 4000 to seal up your boat’s stanchion bases.

I hope this information was helpful. Please leave us a comment if you have any questions or concerns.  We’d be glad to help.

Have you already waited too long? Is your deck soft and rotten already? Be sure to ask us about additional tips n’ tricks on making repairs and installing stanchion bases properly.

And as a bonus…………..make sure those lifelines are secure!

Freshly Resealed Stanchion Base With the Set Screw Properly Drilled and Tapped into the Stanchion. "I like it"
Freshly Resealed Stanchion Base With the Set Screw Properly Drilled and Tapped into the Stanchion. “I like it”

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