I’m going to show you something really, really ugly… are you ready?
Yikes! Sorry, fellow boater, I know that’s tough to look at. It causes us pain to see something so horrid, especially on our boats. But if we’re not careful, this sort of corrosion is what we have to look forward to.
So, how do we avoid such tragedy? Prevention, prevention, and freshwater washdowns. First, let’s look at prevention.
STAGE I: Spin the nuts on bolts that show early signs of corrosion. If you get them turning before they become a godforsaken chunk of rust, like the nut and bolt in this picture, you can radically slow the process down. If, that is, you follow up with Stage II.
STAGE II: Apply a corrosion inhibitor like CorrosionX, Boeshield T-9, or CRC 16. This is goopy stuff, so use a rag to keep it off the fiberglass, carpet, or vinyl seat cushions on your boat. If the offensive metal is right next to one of these items, you may want to spray the rag, then use it to wipe the inhibitor directly onto the corroding area.
Note: WD-40 is not a corrosion inhibitor; it’s a solvent/lubricant. It’s great for breaking stuff free and lubing it up, but many people think it offers long-term corrosion protection, and that’s not accurate.
STAGE III: Spin the nut(s) you turned in STAGE I back in place, then hit the bolt, where was shaded by the nut, with another blast of corrosion inhibitor.
Now, about those freshwater washdowns – after using a boat in saltwater, it’s imperative you give it a thorough wash. That’s wash – not rinse. Merely spraying off metal parts doesn’t always remove all of the corrosive salts, especially if the boat had time to dry (and the salt crystallized) before you began spraying. Some form of physical contact with a brush or mop plus some soap is a must.
Finally, don’t cover your boat immediately following a wash-down. It needs plenty of time and ventilation to air-dry, and if you throw a canvass cover over it right after the washdown, you’ll just be trapping moisture. Potentially, you could do more harm than good.
And, what if your boat already has nuts and bolts like the one pictured above? Oh, the horror… the horror…