There’s nothing quite like the joy of going out onto the high sea. Whether you’re an avid saltwater fisher, a diver or snorkeler, or a parasailer, having your own boat can make all your favorite ocean activities that much easier. But making sure you’ll be able to enjoy your hobbies with minimal stress means you’ll have to make sure to maintain your boat properly. Regular detailing for vessels that you take in saltwater is even more important than it is for your freshwater boats. In addition to harsh UV rays, algae, and rough debris, no matter how careful you are, your boat is always going to be at risk of damage from the saltwater.
Saltwater can damage almost any part of your boat, from the gel coat to rubber fittings to small screws and metal fixtures. Salt accelerates wear and tear on nearly every surface, but the excess rust that it leads to and the damage it can cause in the motor are especially problematic. As part of your boat’s regular maintenance, it’s vital to protect every surface possible from corrosive salt damage.
Read on for our best advice on how to protect your boat from saltwater damage.
Keep Your Boat Clean
The most important thing you can do to protect your sea-faring boat is to make sure you give it regular, thorough washes. You’ll want to rinse and flush out the entire boat, from bow to stern, at the very least after every outing. Make sure you pay special attention to metal and wooden parts, in addition to details like fishing rod holder, cleats, and anchors that you might not think to wash otherwise. If you house your boat out in the open where wind can coat it in saltwater spray you’ll also want to make sure it gets a regular rinse with fresh water regardless of whether you’ve used it. Renting a boat lift can make it quick and easy to wash the bottom of your boat, but if you trailer your vessel it’s still doable — just make sure to wash off the trailer too.
It’s also important not to forget to rinse the interior of your boat, and the engine in particular. Flush out your motor with fresh water to remove salt from the cooling system. As part of regular engine maintenance you should also use products like Seafoam, STA-BIL, or any other marine fuel system additive, which clean impurities out of the fuel line just by adding them to your gas.
Finally, towel your boat off and put a cover over it to protect it from harsh UV rays and any windblown debris. Every now and then give it a good polish and waxing to keep the gelcoat in top condition.
Protect Your Boat’s Outboard
One of the easiest things you can do to protect your motor is also the easiest to overlook: if you have an outboard and keep your boat docked in the water, make sure you remember to tilt the outboard up as soon as you dock it. Saltwater accelerates corrosion and rusting in metal, so of course leaving your motor to soak in it constantly is bound to cause some damage!
In addition to protecting your outboard from corrosion, tilting it up will also keep it clear of any unwanted barnacles and safe from anything it can bang into underwater. Tilting it up at the end of each outing is also a great opportunity to check for any nicks and scratches and perform touch-ups with metal primer and marine paint — even if other boaters don’t see your motor while it’s running primer and paint play an important role in protecting your motor from rust.
Keep the Zincs in Good Condition
Zincs, or sacrificial or galvanic anodes, are small metal fixtures that protect the vital metal parts of your boat from corroding by “sacrificing” themselves. Thanks to a chemical reaction caused by zinc, the sacrificial anodes corrode in place of the parts that your boat actually needs to stay afloat. You can usually find your zincs in the engine’s transom (the lower unit), but make sure to check around any mechanical parts for them. Zincs should be replaced whenever they’ve lost half their mass, and they should be checked at least annually.
Regular Lubrication and Greasing
Keeping your boat polished and maintaining the gelcoat isn’t just for looks — the slick surface helps repel saltwater, barnacles, and other organisms that might eat away at the hull. You can also use a marine-safe silicone spray on the powerhead to help protect the engine mechanisms from corrosion.
Also make sure to lubricate any metal moving parts with marine grease regularly. The factory usually does this for you when the boat is new, but after that updating the grease coating periodically can help protect sensitive metal parts from corrosion.
Regular preventative maintenance is vital to the longevity of your boat. It not only keeps your boat protected, but can also help increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and increase the overall performance of your vessel. While you can certainly do maintenance on your own, there are so many parts to remember that you might want to have a professional detailing service care for your boat! Mobile Detailing Pros works with all kinds of vehicles, from boats to cars to 18-wheelers. You might even be eligible for a discount for getting multiple vehicles detailed at once!