Large navy and white boat sits on Thaler 2 Superlift vertical boat lift helps this boat avoid salt water damage and fresh water damage

How to Keep Salt Water and Fresh Water from Damaging Boats

Boats are engineered for use in the water. However, prolonged exposure to salt water and fresh water can damage boats. In fact, water exposure can actually shorten the lifespan of a boat. Given that boats are such a substantial investment, it’s important to keep vessels in tip-top shape.  Most boats and yachts on the market today feature hulls made of fiberglass or aluminum. Although fiberglass and aluminum boats are durable, easy to maintain and long-lasting, they are not invincible. Salt water is especially harsh on many materials, but even fresh water can damage boats, too. That’s why it is important to not store boats directly in the water for long periods.  Below are several ways that salt water and fresh water can damage boats: 
  • Corrosion: Nearly all metals, wiring and electrical hardware can rust with prolonged water exposure. 
  • Undergrowth: Mold, algae and even barnacles can grow on stationary boats. 
  • Osmotic blisters: This type of scarring forms when water permeates the surface material. 
  • Discoloration: Water can stain vessels and leave unsightly color lines or marks. 
  • Heavy wake: Waves from passing boats can send water gushing onto and into motors. 
Salt water can corrode metals five to 10 times faster than fresh water.  Storing boats in the water requires near-constant maintenance. Boat owners often pay divers to clean barnacles, algae and other biological organisms from the hull. However, that cleaning process can be damaging. After being cleaned, boats often need a new gel coat application or other repairs to the hull, which can be costly.  Discover Boating outlines four boat storage options in an article titled “Boat storage: Which method is best for you?” What option wasn’t on the list? Storing the boat directly in the water. Grady-White, a leading boat manufacturer, even reposted the article on its website.  How can you avoid damage from salt water or fresh water? One effective strategy stands out as the clear-cut choice – install a boat lift. 

Avoid Salt Water Damage and Fresh Water Damage with a Boat Lift 

Boat lifts avoid the aforementioned problems with storing boats directly in water by lifting vessels above the surface. Boat lifts come in all shapes and sizes, accommodating everything from kayaks and skiffs to catamarans and yachts.  IMM Quality Boat lifts designs, manufacturers and engineers custom boat lifts for salt water and fresh water environments. Using 3D modeling and structural analysis software, manufacturing is completed on fully computerized machines to guarantee precision and quality. 

Boat lifts are popular choices for three reasons: 

(1) Boat protection: Storing boats on lifts protects them against corrosion, undergrowth, osmotic blisters, discoloration and heavy wake. Boat lifts can hoist boats from a few inches above the water’s surface to five feet or more above the water line.  (2) Convenience: Boat owners can store their boats at a marina or dry storage facility, but both require a drive from home. Boat owners who live on the water or in boating communities can store their boat on site, offering unparalleled convenience. Boat owners can be on the water in just minutes.  (3) Cost: Off-site storage facilities and marinas often require a deposit and hefty monthly fees. After an initial investment, boat lifts have low maintenance costs and often pay for themselves within a few years.  After returning from a day on the water, especially salt water, it’s important to clean your boat. That includes rinsing all portions of the boat’s exterior and interior, as well as rinsing the engine and cooling systems. This helps prevent rust from forming.  Always consult with the boat manufacturer to determine preventative maintenance requirements.  READ MORE10 reasons to buy a boat lift  Want to maximize the life of your boat with a boat lift? Complete ourCONTACT FORM or REQUEST A QUOTE and our responsive, knowledgeable team will give you a call!

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) Impact of Salt Water and Fresh Water for Damaging Boats

Both salt water and fresh water can be harmful to boats, leading to several types of damage. Salt water accelerates corrosion on metals and wiring, and can corrode metals five to ten times faster than fresh water. Both types of water can cause undergrowth like mold, algae, and barnacles, osmotic blisters, discoloration, and damage from heavy wakes.

Using a boat lift can protect your boat from the common damages associated with water exposure such as corrosion, undergrowth, blisters, and discoloration. Boat lifts elevate the boat above the water's surface, minimizing these risks and extending the lifespan of your vessel.

Boat lifts offer unparalleled convenience for those who live on the water or in boating communities, allowing them to store their boats on-site and access the water quickly. This eliminates the need to drive to marinas or dry storage facilities, enabling boat owners to be on the water within minutes.

While marinas and off-site storage facilities often require deposits and hefty monthly fees, boat lifts, after an initial investment, have relatively low maintenance costs. They typically pay for themselves within a few years, making them a cost-effective solution for long-term boat storage.

After returning from salt water, it's crucial to thoroughly rinse all parts of the boat, including the exterior, interior, engine, and cooling systems, to prevent rust and minimize salt accumulation. Regular cleaning and following the boat manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule can help prevent long-term damage and maintain the boat's condition.


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