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Freshwater to Saltwater? What You Need to Know to Take Care of Your Outboard Motor

If you’ve come to Florida with your boat from another part of the country, you’re ready to get it into that big beautiful Atlantic Ocean or our Intracoastal waterways. But the freshwater that you’re used to and the new saltwater environment require a bit of a learning curve.


The fact is that not all water is created equal when it comes to your engine and your hull.


Freshwater and saltwater have very different properties when it comes to wear and tear on your boat’s engine. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use your boat or current engine in saltwater. You just need to be aware of potential issues and take appropriate precautions.


One big key to remember is the corrosive quality of saltwater. Saltwater will corrode metal 10 times faster than freshwater. But if you are vigilant, you can avoid some of these issues.


Swap Out Your Anodes


Anodes designed for freshwater are typically made from magnesium. Before you drop your boat into the ocean, you’ll want to change your anodes and swap them out for either zinc or aluminum.


That being said, you should change out your anodes yearly anyway if you keep it in the water. A trailered boat’s anodes may last a few years but why take the chance? Changing out anodes is pretty simple and worth the extra money and effort so you don’t get stuck out on the water.


Flush the Engine


The best way to avoid saltwater corrosion is to flush your engine out with fresh water as soon as you get back to the dock. This way, you get all the corrosive salt off your engine’s moving parts. Your outboard probably comes with a hose that makes this really easy.


What if You Have a Sterndrive or I/O?


If you have a sterndrive or I/O, getting salt off your engine becomes a little more complex. Although you may still have a hose attachment, you want to pay special attention to all the small areas and nooks and crannies where saltwater can pool and sit. Even with saltwater engines that come with flushing capabilities, it’s still a good habit to manually flush with fresh water when you get back to the dock.


Electrical and Hardware


Always make sure to get marine-grade connections and hardware when you’re using your boat in saltwater. In fresh, you can get away with automotive-grade but with the corrosive effects of saltwater, your electrical and hardware components simply won’t last without getting marine-grade.


Keep the bilge dry as the connections to the pump will corrode quickly otherwise. You may even want to consider sealing those connections on the bilge pump.


Lubrication


Especially in saltwater conditions, lubrication is key. It will also keep rust at bay. You’ll want to make sure that all moving parts are well-lubricated. This even includes anything made of metal on your boat including hinges and latches.


Have questions about your boat engine or need parts? You’ve come to the right place. Call PowerHouse Marina for any of your marine parts or engine needs. Call us at (305) 892-2628.


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