The bad, the ugly and the uglier it seems...
Yikes. I'm humbled (and terrified) at the stuff I stared right at and didn't see. I thought the boat was a bit rough (they all are in my area and price range, it seems), but didn't recognize much of what y'all have pointed out, or at least recognize the severity.
As for the chainplates, the standing rigging was supposedly replaced in 1999, so I believe the chainplate (which were backed on the other side of the bulkheads w/ identical plates) strangeness was probably introduced then.
C'est la vie, the search continues (seeing an S2 7.3 this weekend). My copy of This Old Boat arrived today as well, so I'm putting my head down in that as well.