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Old 08-08-2012, 12:06   #16
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

35 year old rigging is due for its SECOND replacement by now.

Aside from the obvious issues of salt water, most sailboat engines are cooled by raw water, whatever the boat is floating in. Salt water causes a great deal of rust in the engine cooling passages and after 35 years of salt-water cooling you could expect an engine to need a new exhaust manifold, or to be ready for complete failure from having the cooling passages rotted out from salt water.

So fresh water only? Might be worth a $15,000 engine replacement.

Or not. condition is everything, but fresh water (or heat exhanger cooling) can be a major cost changer.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:20   #17
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

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Originally Posted by Steve W View Post
FWIW, my 1986 Newport has been on the St. Johns river in the Jacksonville area all its life, except for trips to the Bahamas and Keys. The wiring is not tinned and there is no corrosion at any terminal, no rust on the engine, coupling or shaft, no rust streaks anywhere with the exception of a few stantion bolts that have a bit of light surface rust on them. No rust on keelbolt nuts and thread that I can see. The Newport is a very average production boat of that era, nothing special about it and uses pretty much the same hardware, winches, etc., that Catalina used. The running lights have no corrosion in them and I have never replaced them, though I do open them up yearly to clean the lenses. I have to attribute the lack of corrosion to being in freshwater and I sure like not having to deal with rust and corrosion issues. It get washed maybe once a month, if lucky.
Sure, except that the St. John's River is not fresh water at all for at least 60 miles, or up to Lake George. So if you are using fresh water anodes and so forth you might better check on that.

I keep my boat on a river, too -- the Hamble, which is not a "lazy" river like the St. John's -- it has a strong flow. Nevertheless, it is quite salty still six miles from its mouth where my mooring is. The admixture of fresh water from the strongly flowing river, however, does reduce fouling, since a lot of the critters that foul boat bottoms don't like water which is not as salty as the sea. I am very grateful for that. But it is by no means any kind of fresh water environment, and neither is yours.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:36   #18
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

The value of a fresh water boat is greatly over estimated. The true value of a boat is judged by the maintenance given by its owner--whether salt or fresh water. I hauled my boat during the Summers for ten years in South Florida and had no damage whatsoever. The boat was compounded and waxed before hauling, engine and transmission oils changed, fuel topped off, a fuel and engine oil stabilzer added, stainless polished and a small solar panel wired to keep a group 27 battery charged to run my bilge pump. All sails and canvas were removed and I paid someone to check on the boat and wash it once a month until we returned. When I brought my boat to Chicago, I practiced the same regimen during haulout over the Winter with the exception that I constructed a frame for the top which I covered with a tarp to protect it from snow and freezing rain. Since 2005, I have replaced 5 stanchions bent to 45 degrees plus from Winter Storm winds, damage to my teak toe rail from chafe from the tarp and water damage due to the distortion of the stanchion bases allowing ingress of water below. As a general observation, fresh water boats receive less maintenance than those in salt water(South) since the season is short and sailors prefer to sail rather than maintain their vessels. I would not hesistate to buy a well maintained southern boat and I believe that it is a myth concerning the "better" condition of fresh water boats. I have seen a much higher number of well maintained sailboats in South Florida and the Caribbean than I see here on the Great Lakes. As a final comment, this distinction is one that is mentioned ad infinitum and ad nauseum by boat brokers here in the Midwest. In my opnion, it is not true.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:55   #19
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

rogn, my friend replaced the exhaust manifold (out of production, had to find a donor engine) on his Volvo after some 25 years of the boat being in salt and brackish water simply ate it out. The block was still OK and the repairs and parts only ran a couple of grand. Only. But that's just a bandaid. Boats that are hauled every winter and sit with the engine dry will last longer than boats that stay in salt water year-round. Boats that are never in salt water...Aren't worth twice the price but there's some truth and basic chemistry at work there.
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Old 08-08-2012, 14:14   #20
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

Dockead, you probably know that the St. Johns flows north and I have yet to taste any salt in the river water in the Orange Park area, though it can get a little brackish after a tropical storm, etc. Never see any salt crystals on the hull or transom like I used to see when I lived on Amelia Island, and certainly never feel like I am covered with salt after swimmingin the river vs the Atlantic. There may be a salt content, but it must be pretty low and the tannin keeps the water dark. A well maintained boat is more important than salt vs fresh, in my view.You can see below that the salinity in my area south of the Buckman bridge is almost catagorized as freshwater and 8 miles south in Green Cove Springs, the salinity is .81 ppt, well below the 2ppt required to be classified at freshwater.

From Wikipedia:

As distance between the mouth of the St. Johns and the middle and upper basins increases, the salinity in the river gradually decreases. Marine water measures at 35 parts per thousand (ppt) or more while fresh water measures below 2 ppt. What ranges in between is characterized as brackish water. Near the center of Jacksonville, average measures have been collected at 11.40 ppt. Farther south at the Buckman Bridge, joining the south side of Jacksonville to Orange Park, it decreases to 2.9 ppt and falls again to 0.81 ppt at the Shands Bridge near Green Cove Springs.[76][77]
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Old 08-08-2012, 14:36   #21
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

One critical advantage of a freshwater "Great Lakes" boat is the minimum use cycle. Plus or minus, a Great Lakes sailing season is four months. Consequently, 8 months of the year or 2/3's of it's life a boat is either in storage or being prepared for the season and is out of the water. It is not getting corroded, pounded, cycled, used, torqued, bent, exposed, worn and rubbed. It happily sits under cover waiting for spring. BTW, tarp chaff and stanchion leaking is simple owner negligence.

Probably the second most corrosive element to a yacht is the solar UV. The UV breaks down the gelcoat, interiors, plastic, running rigging, and finishes. A saltwater boat receives double to triple the UV exposure as a Great Lakes boat because of the reduced use and the more northern latitudes.

Having lived in the Great Lakes my entire life I was more than shocked by the corrosion and mess created by the salt in our two year Atlantic loop cruise. It seemed like everything was weeping rust. How about that salt getting carried into the interior over the years. Even the zippers on my clothing were rusting. Work to maintain a boat doubles or triples in salt.

I conservatively estimate that the salt accelerated wear on the engine, generator, electrical systems and electrical components, standing rigging, and fastners is double to triple that of a fresh water yacht. This estimate is not counting the significantly reduced use cycle of a freshwater boat compared to a typical saltwater boat.
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Old 08-08-2012, 14:45   #22
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

My "MagicToo" is a 30 year old C&C 34 that has never been off lake Superior. The reasons I bought it in 2008 are:
a. Looked at similarly aged saltwater boats and there is absolutely no comparison between the appearance, above and below waterline, and the electrics.
b. Still has original rod rigging which has inspected perfectly (I know...I'm pushin' it).
c. Interior looks like that of a five year old boat.
d. No galvanic corrosion/rot/issues and the color green is absent even from anchoring gear.
e. Northern freshwater boats usually in water 5 months of year +/- thus, in most cases, less wear/use
f. I have seen no indication that freshwater boats have either more mildew or more "pox".
Having said that, you're gonna replace dated/older electronics anyway and who knows what impact the freeze - thaw cycles on Northern freshwater (and saltwater for that matter) boats really has. The question I have for my learned board associates is "What price difference between fresh and saltwater boats"?
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Old 08-08-2012, 16:09   #23
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

I agree salt and fresh water aren't that different if the original build was high quality- especially in the choice of metals.

I always buy the boat that's had the best maintenance and most knowledgeable owner. Extra points if the PO wants to stay in touch to see how the boat's doing

It's real easy to spend a lot more than $10,000 fixing stuff that the surveyor didn't notice.



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Old 09-08-2012, 14:56   #24
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
One critical advantage of a freshwater "Great Lakes" boat is the minimum use cycle. Plus or minus, a Great Lakes sailing season is four months. Consequently, 8 months of the year or 2/3's of it's life a boat is either in storage or being prepared for the season and is out of the water. It is not getting corroded, pounded, cycled, used, torqued, bent, exposed, worn and rubbed. It happily sits under cover waiting for spring. BTW, tarp chaff and stanchion leaking is simple owner negligence.

Probably the second most corrosive element to a yacht is the solar UV. The UV breaks down the gelcoat, interiors, plastic, running rigging, and finishes. A saltwater boat receives double to triple the UV exposure as a Great Lakes boat because of the reduced use and the more northern latitudes.

Having lived in the Great Lakes my entire life I was more than shocked by the corrosion and mess created by the salt in our two year Atlantic loop cruise. It seemed like everything was weeping rust. How about that salt getting carried into the interior over the years. Even the zippers on my clothing were rusting. Work to maintain a boat doubles or triples in salt.

I conservatively estimate that the salt accelerated wear on the engine, generator, electrical systems and electrical components, standing rigging, and fastners is double to triple that of a fresh water yacht. This estimate is not counting the significantly reduced use cycle of a freshwater boat compared to a typical saltwater boat.

Lake Superior, I find your quote "tarp chafe and stanchion leaking is simple owner negligence" amusing. Unless you store your boat inside, it is virtually impossible or you have been extremely lucky to have avoided the harsh Midwest Winters. I have stored a boat outside in Illinois for over 25 years, but two years ago we had 75-80 mph winds on three occasions that bent four stanchions over 45 degrees and distorted the bases from flat to convex to allow ingress of water into the boat. Countless canvas and poly tarps were torn to shreads. Metal and wood framing was twisted and shattered to pieces. Several boats on trailers were upended as well as chained boat stands that failed. I don't know how anyone could have avoided that damage other than being lucky and there were many boats in the marina that suffered far worse than mine. But, later in your response you mentioned you suffered corrosion on your two year cruise to the tropics. Is it possible that if was attributable to negligence, poor maintenance and infrequent washing? I kept a boat in Florida and the Caribbean for 10 years, mainly at anchor, and never had any corrosion problems whatsoever. In fact, when I had my boat surveyed for insurance recently here in the Midwest, the surveyor was quite surprised it spent ten years in the tropics. I guess it's a maintenance issue, huh?
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Old 09-08-2012, 16:36   #25
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

IMHO, there is, indeed, a difference between boats habitually kept in fresh water and those kept in salt water.

First, there's the corrosion issue....no doubt about it, those in salt water and salt air are more subject to corrosion, including crevice corrosion of standing rigging. I don't know how anyone can argue this point...there's just too much real-world evidence of this truth.

Next, there's the blister issue, as mentioned above. Boats in hot water areas...fresh or salt...may suffer from blisters more than those kept in cold water areas, like the Great Lakes or Maine.

Those who argue that boats which are well maintained by knowledgeable owners are a better bet are right: all other things being equal, I'll take one of these any day. Unfortunately, these are rare on the used market.

No question that one should not be obsessed by the electronics aboard a used boat. In many cases (most cases in my experience), I'd much rather choose the electronics to fit, and these are relatively cheap as a portion of the overall cost. BTW, older electronics aren't necessarily bad: if they've been well chosen and installed, they can be as good or better than new "state-of-the-art" electronics.

Bottom line: there's no hard and fast rule. However, there's no question that given two equal boats, the one kept in fresh water much of it's life is likely to be a better bet.

JMHO,

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Old 09-08-2012, 18:26   #26
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

We have a few 70 mph winds most every winter up here in the PNW, I dont see much ill effect from it though.... unless it's a neglected boat to start with.
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:09   #27
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

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The question I have for my learned board associates is "What price difference between fresh and saltwater boats"?
+1!

Thank you all for the continuing comments. As in most things boating your answers range from black to ... white.

Still, I had neglected to remember the 4 months annual usage angle of northern boats, so this was a good reminder.

I am at the point where I think we have converged on a particular good old boat, some 300 or 400 of which were made. It really I believe gets a good solid C grade (C being in my opinion the highest possible grade for that set of compromises which makes up a boat) for our intended usage and wants and needs. The remaining task is to drag home a particular instance. I even have sufficient $US converted from Canadian (unfortunately in 2 weeks since the $CAN rose 2% !*#@).

Unfortunately, I am foundering on my inexperience and the brutal geography - most of them are > 500 miles away. I am like the dog chasing a fire truck. If he caught one, he wouldn't know what to do with it.

I think it is likely that three years into ownership doing all the early repairs, about $25,000 separates the lowest value instance from the highest value instance of my about $50,000 boat (plus about $25,000 repairs/upgrades), and I should just accept that I don't have the experience or geography to find a boat closer to the highest value end of the spectrum. So I either need to decide to just go out and buy one and directly pay my dues, or start with a 30 footer for a few years, and pay my dues that way. As much as the cheap bastard part of me likes to get value, I think I just have to let it go.

It might be academic for this year anyhow. I am away the next 2 weeks, and when I get back there may not be sufficient time to close a deal, and get a boat back to Ontario by mid October. I am not in any hurry, but my spouse is!

I am pretty happy with my progress actually. I don't have hardly any time on other people's boats, but in a year I have acquired reasonable book knowledge. I have been able to narrow down boat choices with very high confidence to a particular model, plus there are secondary models which if one showed up at a fantastic price, or really close geographically, I would be prepared to jump on. My wife and I are on a 5 day live aboard coarse (Canadian equivalent to ASA101 I believe) next week, so will be ever so slightly less green.

And finally, there is a fantastic bunch of anonymous strangers out there freely giving of their time to point a newbie in the right direction. Kudos to you all.

Regards,

Boulter
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:11   #28
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To argue that fresh isn't a selling plus is just ridiculous. My zincs last about 10 years here on the upper Missouri river. Try that in Miami.
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:29   #29
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

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We have a few 70 mph winds most every winter up here in the PNW, I dont see much ill effect from it though.... unless it's a neglected boat to start with.

Cheechako, I guess you're probably correct. I'll pass your comment along to the owners of a new Beneteau and a year old Jenneau stored next to me that suffered similar damage. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:45   #30
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Re: Why is freshwater better?

Here in the UP tarp chaff, caused by the wind driven tarp grommets slapping the hull or rail, must be carefully countermeasured or else the grommet will bore into the hull over the course of a northern winter.

The blue plastic tarps that many folks use are sub-optimal but because of cost and convenience are prevalent. Canvas is the best because it breaths and is more durable. All tarps need to have line wrapped and tied on the outside of the tarp. Any trucker will back me up on this as it prevents major tarp flap, grommet chaff, and the blue plastic from shredding. The down side of this is the lines trap snow and we get 200 to 400 inches a year of it.

So, we carefully build durable frames to support the cover. This is needed for these high winds and major snow loads.
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