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Old 04-03-2013, 23:53   #1
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freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

First, allow me to say 'hello' and 'first post'! I've been lurking for the last few days and have learned a great deal just by doing that. But I decided to go ahead and join up

A little about myself. I'm in my mid-20's, single, a handyman/diy type and a quick learner - on a low budget I grew up around lakes and powerboats, but have never sailed and haven't had much experience on the ocean. I've been researching various kinds of housing for the past couple of years, from tipis to converted box trucks and school buses. But, ever since the idea of living on a boat occurred to me, I've been hooked, so to speak


I've joined the forum today because I'm starting to look at boats, and I think I've found one that's promising. So I'm here for advice.

I've read many of your warnings against buying a cheap boat and assuming that money can be saved by simply fixing it up, and I understand why that doesn't work. However - my hunch is that this wouldn't necessarily be the case for a boat that's lived in a freshwater lake all its life - at least not to the same extent.

I've found such a boat, which I think I could probably get for $2k. I don't know what condition it's in, but it doesn't look terrible from the photos. I'm going to have a look this week if I can. It's a 30' sloop parked at a marina in a lake just a few miles from me My theory on why it's so cheap is a combination of factors, but mostly a lack of interest in sailboats from lake boaters. (it was abandoned in exchange for overdue slip fees.)

My plan would essentially be to live on the boat for awhile on the lake, learning the basics of sailing and boat living, making it seaworthy/livable, and saving up. Then, around this time next year, having it shipped to the nearest port city and berthed into the ocean. If nothing else, the slip is so cheap that it may be worth it just to see if living on a boat is something I'm cut out for.


My main question is - regarding corrosion and maintenance issues - does anyone have experience, or know the difference between how sailboats generally fare in freshwater as compared with saltwater? Especially regarding things like the sails, rigging, etc. How might I know if these are intact enough to use on the ocean? Anything in particular to look out for in a freshwater situation?

thanks all

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Old 05-03-2013, 00:23   #2
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

Sound familiar.. I bought my 31ft sloop last year , paid 1800$ in harbour fees for her..
I do realize now, that I would be better off using like 10000$ on a boat in better shape . I'm getting close to the 5000$ mark already.. But I have a boat!! I'm constantly looking for discounts on the stuff I want, to try to save money.

Done: changed keelbolts and wood stringers, reglassed the keel, insulated hull..
Bought: 3VHF's, Autopilot, plotter+GPS, Handheld GPS.. anchors (a Bruce and a lunchhook), 10 ft zodiac with outboard (wich is my main engine for now!!), jib furler, offshore suits..
Need: New sails (all of them!!), engine, depth sounder, wind instrument, cabin heater.. lots of interior stuff..

Some of the stuff wich came with the boat could maybe have been used , but would not bet my life on it.

Fresh vs salt.. All electronics and engines lasts A LOT longer in freshwater. Only exeption is a wooden hull. Wood rot a lot faster in freshwater than saltwater. I remember grandpa used to pour salt in the bilge of his boat, to combat rainwater...

Moneywise It would be better to buy a boat in decent shape, first , but in my case, using 10000 or more at once would not have happened for at least a year or two..
But I'm cruising now!!!

Best of luck , whatever you choose.

edit: Forgot one thing: Welcome to CF! The friendliest boat forum on the net.. (The most including one too.. you'll see..)

Is it possible that my sole purpose in life is to act as a warning to others?
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:16   #3
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pirate Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

Hi LA.... Welcome to CF

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Old 05-03-2013, 03:22   #4
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, la11111.
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"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 05-03-2013, 03:46   #5
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

If the boat is a real sailboat, as opposed to a house boat, then the affects of saltwater are significant but not overwealming.

All underwater metal: prop, prop shaft, thruhulls as well as engine exposed metal: strainer, water pump">raw water pump, heat exchanger will be affected but if protected by zincs they can last the life of the boat. Exterior metal like deck hardware, portlights, rails, will tarnish but polish will bring it back. Sails will be largely unaffected, more by sunlight. Rigging can last 20 or more years in saltwater, longer if you are not going offshore where it is critical. The spars can last much longer, generally the life of the boat.

So don't be afraid of saltwater. Replace zincs religiously and keep up with general maintenance and you will be fine in saltwater.

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Old 18-03-2013, 16:19   #6
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

Yes there is a huge difference between keeping your boat in freshwater than saltwater. Saltwater will corrode everything fast.
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Old 19-03-2013, 12:18   #7
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

If you want a boat to last a very long time, whatever you do, don't put it in the water.
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Old 21-03-2013, 13:12   #8
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Re: freshwater vs. saltwater - wear&tear?

Saltwater is tough on a boat, but you can't help it if that's what the oceans are made of.

The fact is that fresh water is easier on a boat, but transitioning from freshwater to salt is as easy as moving the boat. The one thing you might want to check are the zincs or sacrificial metals, which are even more important in salt water.

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