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, these stanchion bases are also the reason for most soft decks; this is because of the long fulcrum that is naturally created by the stanchion. Stanchion bases, especially the ones with the stanchion welded directly to them, are prone to breaking the seal due to this fulcrum. 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.
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 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.
In the meanwhile, we will have to do our best not to overlook this very important component. I know, no one likes to deal with these pesky stanchion bases, because they are so damn hard to reach and there is usually about 8 or more of them. If you are just too bothered to handle it yourself, then hire someone to do it for you. Either way make sure it gets done! It will make all of the difference in the world to your boats longevity (and your wallet) just by taking the time to ensure that they are sealed properly.
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. I mention ‘inspecting the stanchion base’, because they can crack over time, especially at the welds or if dissimilar metals are being used -this now becomes a safety issue as our life lines need to be able to support our body weight to ensure that we stay on the boat.
As far as the sealant is concerned, make sure that you (or the individual that you hire) chooses a good adhesive sealant (NOT silicone) 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!