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Summer is here again! For many of us, that means spending as much time as possible on the water. Yet depending on your location, you may be spending time on a freshwater lake or breaking the ocean waves.

For those new to the boating game: yes, there are some differences between saltwater and freshwater boats. In this post, we’ll cover these differences so you have a better idea of the boat type for your needs.

Common Differences

Corrosion Resistance: Saltwater boats are designed to better handle corrosion resistance for obvious reasons. These system features include closed cooling systems, which eliminate the need for boat owners to manually flush their engines after every use.

Mercathode Systems: Saltwater boats also commonly have mercathode systems installed. These cathodic protection systems run electrical currents through the boat engine to prevent galvanic corrosion.

Hull Design: Freshwater boats tend to have hull shapes and fins better designed to be near flat shores and handle flat waves. Saltwater boats have designs better suited for rougher conditions.

Hull Fouling: Saltwater boats are also more prone to the growth of marine life on the hull. Barnacles, for example, can slice open bellows. There’s also the added time and maintenance that goes into removing this life from the hull.

Can I use a freshwater boat in saltwater, and vice versa?

For the most part, freshwater boats can be used in saltwater. However, boat owners need to be aware of the increased potential for corrosion. To reduce these risks, be sure to flush out the engine with freshwater following your trip. Also make sure to hose down the hull, as any leftover salt can potentially lead to corrosion.

The opposite is also true. Saltwater boats are designed to handle the more rigorous conditions that come with saltwater, so they should be fine to handle freshwater.


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