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Old 01-09-2018, 20:08   #1
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Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

I'm new to boating and curious about how bad it is or isn't to leave a boat in a slip (in the water) year-round (such as in Florida on the ICW).

Is a boat's hull fine long-term (being kept in the water) as long as it's occasionally cleaned?
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Old 01-09-2018, 20:31   #2
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Mine's been in the water for 16-17 years so far, cleaned monthly, hauled and painted for a week every 3 to 5 years.
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Old 01-09-2018, 20:59   #3
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

I am sure there are many folks here wit much more knowledge than me. But it would appear to be almost more harmful to store a boat on the hard for extended periods of time. The reason I say this is in the water all the weight is displaced evenly over the entire hull in the water. While a boat on the hard is supported at maybe ten different points by pads. I would guess this puts more stress on the hull than being in the water.

Hopefully this isn't bum scoop
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Old 01-09-2018, 21:09   #4
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of boats are left in the water all year round. Slip every year or two for a clean and reapply bottom paint.

Absolutely no issue wherever there is no sea ice or heavy snow.
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Old 02-09-2018, 00:27   #5
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Thanks for the replies, everyone! I didn't know if salt water acted like a corroding agent and was slowly eating away at the hull over time.
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Old 02-09-2018, 02:33   #6
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Actually, for the hull it is better leaving the boat in salt water. Fresh water increases the risk of osmosis. By how much, nobody knows.

For wooden boats, you want to leave them in the water, because drying cycles are not good. Fibreglass boats, in the water or out, I do not think it matters.
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:04   #7
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

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Originally Posted by boatingnewbie View Post
Thanks for the replies, everyone! I didn't know if salt water acted like a corroding agent and was slowly eating away at the hull over time.
The only thing you need be watchful of are the Polyestermites. They can really do a number on a hull if they can find it!!!
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:12   #8
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

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Originally Posted by boatingnewbie View Post
Thanks for the replies, everyone! I didn't know if salt water acted like a corroding agent and was slowly eating away at the hull over time.


Nah, ours is 42 years old, and for the last 25 or so years has only been out for 3-4 days at a time every 3-5 years for bottom paint.
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:18   #9
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

It depends on the boat.
I wouldn’t want to leave an inboard / outboard in water
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:19   #10
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Like most things, it depends. We keep our boat in the hurricane belt, on the hard, during the off season. Our insurance company covers us out of the water, but would require an expensive rider in the water. Also, statistics on sinking reveal that most boats sink at the dock, usually unattended, for numerous reasons. In the water, all kinds of stuff grows in intakes and raw water lines. In the water, the hull has to be cleaned periodically otherwise it becomes it's own complex eco system. In the water, lines need to be checked regularly for chaff and tension. For us, we feel our boat is safer out of the water, and our insurance company feels the same way. A fresh water boat out of the hurricane belt might be a different decision.
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:55   #11
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

i keep my boat in hurricane alley, west coast mexico. in the water.
no issue.
but then i am a full time living on board misadventurer, so it is a bit different.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:46   #12
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Leaving it in the water can be bad, just like poor blocking technique on land.

Water slowly dissolves just about anything....but in boats it's called hydrolysis of the laminates.

It starts with a less than perfect hull layup and not fully cured resin found in parts of many boats built more than a few years ago.

Sometimes blisters are a telltale sign, but not always. Warm water is worse.

My boat had severe damage that the surveyor did not report .....as tap testing for delamination doesn't quite cut it.

So the bottom line is most boaters and even many boat professionals really understand the problem. Some boaters, like my previous owner don"t even know they have a problem...and swear the fon"t and think.... No or a few blisters...no problem.....wrong.

Virtually no one can tell you how bad it might be, unless they have core samples of your hull.
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:11   #13
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

My 1983 Newport sailboat has spent its entire life in the water other than being hauled for maintenance and bottom painting, as has my 1979 Uniflite powerboat. The laminate has not "dissolved" or whatever. In fact, the hull of each of my fiberglass boats shows signs of lasting more or less forever. Unfortunately I can't say as much of the mechanical systems aboard, but storing on the hard doesn't help them much anyway.
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:18   #14
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Yes it can damage some things IF the boat sits unused:

-SS Propellor shafts will corrode inside the stuffing box if they are unused for too long. They get rough and pitted. When you start using again it tears up the stuffing. The shaft must be replaced. This is due to low oxygen environment in there which is a problem for SS.
-Bottom growth can be scraped off mostly, but it can get bad.
-Zinc changes are necessary to protect the shaft and prop etc. Especially if you have shore power connected.
-Mold and mildew can be a problem inside the boat, and it can be bad enough to require replacing all fabrics.
-Sun will take it's toll on gel coat, varnish, sail covers etc. This will happen if stored on the hard uncovered though too.
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Old 02-09-2018, 13:41   #15
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Re: Does it damage a boat leaving it in the water all year?

Who knows? I understand osmosis remains an issue & is is more of a problem in warmer waters I believe... My surveyor told me that epoxy is not absolutely waterproof, & that the hull will be soaking up water over time, although very slowly. Best to take it out for 2 to 3 months over winter to give it a chance to dry. Best advice is if you are using the boat, keep it in the water. If not, take it out. I know there are other factors but personally I like to take my boat out every other year at least.
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