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Kick out the corrosion: quick tips for keeping your boat shiny and seaworthy.

Corrosion on boats ranges from cosmetic to catastrophic. A wise skipper addresses trouble spots early, before costly repairs are needed.


Generators under the cockpit sole and inboard engines in tight spaces often rust terribly due to the combination of dampness and poor access. Pumps, electrical items and anything metal also suffer, but your equipment can last much longer if you minimize the moisture in these areas. Metal fuel or water tanks are likely to corrode if in constant contact with bilge water and there is nothing you can do to protect the tank bottom except to eliminate the water.


Determine how the water and moisture enter the area and eliminate it at the source. If hatch gutters drain into your machinery areas, drain them into a contained sump instead and pump the water overboard. Re-caulk any leaking seams or hardware. Replace any old, cracked, seeping or leaking hoses immediately, as further deterioration could sink the boat. Note that your insurance policy may not provide any coverage for failure and loss due to corrosion, gradual deterioration or wear and tear. Replace any leaking pumps, since not only are they failing, but they are ruining other items along the way. Relocate or use a different automatic bilge pump switch to evacuate as much water as possible from the bilge. Open lockers to air out whenever possible and leave the lockers open if you store your boat indoors. Dry any pockets of water and apply mildew remover and block to any mildewed areas. On outboard vessels, periodically remove the engine covers and spray the engines with T-9 or a compound recommended by the manufacturer.

On general ship systems, once you've minimized future moisture problems, scrape off rust and loose paint, and then prime and paint the machinery. Spray all metal items with an anti-corrosion lubricant such as Corrosion Block or T-9, replace any rusted hose clamps and check through-hulls for any signs of electrolysis. Electrolysis or galvanic corrosion, which is a problem if you keep your boat in the water, can be caused by your DC electrical system, your shore power, wiring in the marina or other boats in the marina. If you note corrosion on the through-hull fittings or go through a lot of zincs, have the boat checked by a qualified marine electrician.

Rusting hardware on deck is more cosmetic in nature but detracts from the value of the boat. Instead of wasting time continually cleaning rust stains, replace the offending fitting or fastener. Better to replace a rusting screw while it can still be removed than to have to drill it out later. When using rust stain removers, be careful to use those that are compatible with paint and gelcoat. Wet the area to be cleaned, since the rust stain remover can also "bleach" the treated area, making it brighter than the surrounding surfaces. Stainless rails and other larger items can be cleaned with metal polish then waxed to maintain the finish. If your aluminum is pitted, it is already too late and it will have to be painted, powder coated or, in severe cases, replaced. Aluminum in good shape should be protected by metal wax--West Marine Aluminum Polish and Rupp Aluma Guard are two products which are quick and easy to apply.

Often forgotten and expensive to replace are the fasteners and zippers of enclosures and isinglass. For maximum life, treat zippers with a spray lubricant such as CRC Dry Lube Spray with PTFE, and snaps with a lubricant such as Star Brite Snap & Zipper Lubricant. It only takes a few minutes to address this and the increase in longevity is dramatic. Try the same stuff on tackle bag zippers; you'll be pleased.
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Title Annotation:BOATMANSHIP
Author:Grell, Fritz
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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