Is brackish water bad for your boat?
If you’re a newbie in the world of boating, you’re probably under the impression that the kind of water the boat sits or sails on doesn’t matter. However, you couldn’t be more wrong. Boating in freshwaters, such as lakes and rivers, is quite different from saltwater boating.
That’s because salt water can corrode metals five times faster than freshwater. But what about brackish water, which has less salinity than saltwater? Even if brackish bodies of water, such as inland bays or estuaries, aren’t as salty as the ocean, any amount of salt in the water won’t be boat-friendly.
Here are some of the problems you might encounter if you’re planning to go boating in brackish waters.
Brackish Water Causes Engine Corrosion
Salt will always do a number on boat engines, whether it’s an outboard motor, I/O, or a sterndrive type. The metal parts are always in danger of corrosion after a day out in brackish waters. That’s why flushing the motors with fresh water should be a regular part of your boat maintenance.
Outboard motors usually come with a hose attachment built-in, making the job a breeze. Sterndrive engines are a bit more of a bother since only some have hose attachments, and there’s limited access within the engine space. You have to make sure to flush out all the crevices where saltwater may enter, such as the risers and manifolds.
Saltwater boats have engines with cooling systems that can flush out the saltwater on their own. However, it’s still recommended to flush them with freshwater manually to prevent corrosion.
You May Need to Change Anodes
Anodes are designed to take the brunt of corrosion instead of essential metals like steel that make up the components of your boat. If your craft has only touched freshwater before, it’s probably using magnesium anodes. However, you may have to swap them for zinc or aluminum anodes if you’re transitioning to salt or brackish water.
According to Fathombay.com, zinc is very effective in saltwater, while aluminum works better in mostly freshwater. Aluminum is the ideal choice for brackish water, but zinc may be better (and more accessible) if the water is very salty.
Effects on Bottom Paint
Salt is abrasive, so it’s going to be hard to keep the paint looking fresh and shiny as the first time you bought your boat. It isn’t a problem in freshwater, where you can dock for weeks, and it will come out looking decent after using boat cleaner and wax.
Switching to antifouling paint is necessary for boat use in salt or brackish waters. A coat of antifouling paint can also prevent hull corrosion.
Again, corrosion is what you’re afraid to happen to your electrical wirings and hardware. Corroded wires can cause the engine to malfunction or start fires.
Always keep an eye for signs of corrosion and reseal wires as needed. It may also be necessary to switch to marine-grade quality electrical connections and hardware.
Salt Is Not Your Boat’s Friend
While brackish water is less salty than saltwater bodies, salt is still salt. It will always have a corrosive property that’s detrimental to your boat. Now that you’re aware of its effects, you can make the necessary changes to protect your precious craft.
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