As a boat owner there is nothing more frustrating than having a component failure right when you’re ready to spend some time on the water. Yet, that is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago. There we were with “Sea Y’all” all loaded up, engines running and ready to pull out of the slip. Then, just like every time before, I reach down to turn on the bow thruster and…nothing happens. What? In this wind, I’m going to have to maneuver without my trusty bow thruster? Oh no! Now, this failure did not prevent our outing but, I have experienced failures that did and the frustration can be epic.
What caused this failure, you might ask? Corrosion!
And how do you prevent corrosion? Preventative Maintenance!
Preventative maintenance is one of the most important things any boat owner can do, and nowhere is this more critical than Florida’s marine environment. The combination of sun, sand and saltwater ultimately destroys everything. They say that every single dollar spent on preventative maintenance results in a long-term savings of ten dollars.
It doesn’t matter if you own a flats skiff, a tournament equipped center console or a motor yacht. They all have commonalities when it comes to possible points of failure. And, those failure points can be addressed through regular and proper preventative maintenance.
Common metals typically used in boat building include copper and bronze for wires and thru hull fittings, with aluminum and stainless steel generally utilized for pipe work, fittings, fasteners, clamps and many other vital components. And while stainless steel is recognized and utilized for its outstanding corrosion resistant properties, many boaters are surprised when they notice pitting, rust stains or corrosion developing around stainless steel fittings and clamps. The average boat owner doesn’t realize 316-stainless steel (the most commonly used stainless in the marine industry) isn’t 100-percent corrosion proof.
Preventing corrosion is all about eliminating one or more of the elements involved; an anode and a cathode, an electrolyte like moisture or salt crystals, and a path of current. The easiest way to do this is by using commercially available corrosion inhibitors which displace moisture and separate metal from oxygen with a barrier coating. These preventative compounds and inhibitors are petroleum based, which means they also double as excellent lubricants and work phenomenally well for keeping moving parts operating smoothly while loosening rusty nuts, bolts and fasteners. So, using them to protect your investment is a win-win scenario.
If you recently purchased a new boat do yourself a huge favor…run to your local marine store and purchase several cans of corrosion preventative compound. Head back to the boat and douse everything that could potentially be exposed to moisture. If you purchased a pre-owned boat or haven’t previously taken any action, it is not too late. Clean affected areas with a wire brush and apply a healthy dose of a proven corrosion inhibitor, like Boeshield T-9, CorrosionX, CRC, Jet Lube 769 or Blaster Corrosion Stop.
In any case, being proactive about corrosion control is the best way to protect your investment from the harsh marine environment and ensure trouble free performance when your’e ready to get out on the water.
The following is a partial list of the vulnerable components that must be protected against rust, corrosion and pitting. Of course, every boat is different so adjust your maintenance program accordingly. Leading corrosion inhibitors aren’t conductive, so do not hesitate spraying liberally on electrical connections, switch panels and battery terminals. In regards to over-spray, most of these formulas are generally safe on plastic, fiberglass, vinyl, teak and enclosures, though a small test area is always a good idea.
Hose Clamps, Throttle Cables, Steering Mechanisms, Battery Terminals, Bilge Pumps, Electrical Connections, Light Fixtures
Canvas Snaps and Zippers, Switch Panels, Antenna Bases, Rod Holders, 12-volt Outlets, Engines/Powerheads, Hinges/Locks/Latches, Fuel/Water Fill Caps, Windlasses