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Old 22-06-2021, 08:46   #1
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Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

Hello Cruisers,

I've got a boat that's never seen salt, which I am planning to take down the Big Muddy to the Gulf next year. I've been wondering if there is anything I should do to prepare her for the shock of salt water. I have a hunch that I should install a sea strainer, but am unaware of other precautions I might take, bringing her from the benign fresh water environs to the harsh saltiness of the sea. Any advice greatly appreciated!

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Old 22-06-2021, 09:05   #2
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

ummm, well it's not hydrochloric acid. Your boat won't know the difference though she may ride a little higher on her waterline. You'll need to think about zincs on your prop shaft. Is your inboard raw water cooled? That is something to keep an eye on. My buddy with a raw water cooled engine has a T in his intake hose so he can flush the engine with fresh water and CLR. You'll need to watch for corrosion on your rigging a little more, and your chain and anchors will start showing rust stains, but it doesn't happen overnight. Fear not! You'll be able to keep up with the ravages of the harsh salty sea!
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Old 22-06-2021, 09:35   #3
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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Originally Posted by mikebikeboy View Post
Hello Cruisers,

I've got a boat that's never seen salt, which I am planning to take down the Big Muddy to the Gulf next year. I've been wondering if there is anything I should do to prepare her for the shock of salt water. I have a hunch that I should install a sea strainer, but am unaware of other precautions I might take, bringing her from the benign fresh water environs to the harsh saltiness of the sea. Any advice greatly appreciated!
Are you thinking you are going to take your boat down the Mississippi? (The Big Muddy?)

If so, THAT will be your worry (what you need to prepare for) not the salt water if or when you get there.
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Old 22-06-2021, 10:33   #4
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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Are you thinking you are going to take your boat down the Mississippi? (The Big Muddy?)

If so, THAT will be your worry (what you need to prepare for) not the salt water if or when you get there.
All you have to do is keep an eye out for the barges, it's not really that hard.
I'm only on the Mississippi for 200 miles then I go over to the Ten Tom
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Old 22-06-2021, 10:58   #5
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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ummm, well it's not hydrochloric acid. Your boat won't know the difference though she may ride a little higher on her waterline. You'll need to think about zincs on your prop shaft. Is your inboard raw water cooled? That is something to keep an eye on. My buddy with a raw water cooled engine has a T in his intake hose so he can flush the engine with fresh water and CLR. You'll need to watch for corrosion on your rigging a little more, and your chain and anchors will start showing rust stains, but it doesn't happen overnight. Fear not! You'll be able to keep up with the ravages of the harsh salty sea!
Thanks Don as always. Yes my boat has a raw water cooled engine, water intake has a "grill" on the outside of seacock to prevent larger objects from getting through. A previous boat I had in California had a sea strainer which is why I was wondering about that.

Yes good point on the zincs because currently what I have is magnesium.
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Old 22-06-2021, 11:33   #6
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

We did have a bit of a problem with a Great Lakes boat in the ocean. The raw water strainer was so fine a mesh that it plugged up with plankton every 24 hours.

The other issue you may find is if the head is flushed with salt water, you can get a sulfur smell if you don't use the boat for a week or two. It has something to do with the inlet hoses.
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Old 22-06-2021, 11:45   #7
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

Another thing to consider is your bottom paint. We has VC17 on our Great Lakes boat which can be removed with a little alcohol and a rag. Salt water will sand this off in no time. You might think about have a salt water bottom done before you go. Also, in fresh water you don't use zincs, magnesium tends to have a bad reaction with salt water. Either change to actual zinc or aluminum for the trip. You will want actual zincs in the salt. We trucked our boat (full disclosure) and had our bottom done in FL before splashing.
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Old 22-06-2021, 11:47   #8
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

You might also want to think about the bottom pain you're using and it's effectiveness in salt water.
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Old 22-06-2021, 12:11   #9
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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All you have to do is keep an eye out for the barges, it's not really that hard.
I'm only on the Mississippi for 200 miles then I go over to the Ten Tom
Maybe it will be okay up your way, but near Memphis and below there aren't many places to pull over. New Orleans is also a very busy place on that river.

I lived in Memphis for 20 years and went Juggin' on the river a few times.

Also fished Pickwick below the Dam and visited the sailboats on the lake side a few that were taking the ditch down to the coast.

As far as the salt water, there aren't many changes you need to make.

I lived on the Gulf for 12 years (Pensacola) and didn't have much trouble with the salt water there just a little on my boat trailers.

The heat though in July and August will be your biggest problem when out sailing.
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Old 22-06-2021, 12:30   #10
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

You have a 40 yo boat, so it might be worth inspecting the inside of the heat exchanger. Take off the ends and clean out any zinc particles and impeller residue. Perhaps do the descaling it if it looks suspect.

Just a thought.
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Old 22-06-2021, 13:06   #11
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

We bought a great lakes boat and brought it to Rhode Island. After a few months we noticed a lot of things rusting! The previous owner got away with crappy zinc plates steel fasteners, hose clamps, engine bed, etc. in fresh water. But man it was a PITA to replace all that crap as it rusted and stained the boat... Not sure if there's much you could do ahead of time, but just watch out for things rusting and change it out ASAP or do appropriate remediation before it becomes a rust bucket.
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Old 22-06-2021, 15:40   #12
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

A Cape Dory is built for salt water use.

Salt water is not a problem unless you want to make it one for something to do.
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Old 22-06-2021, 16:59   #13
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

We cruise extensively from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas. What the southern sailors (and surveyors) see as normal is anathema on Great Lakes.

Spray every piece of metal and electrical contact inside the boat with Boeshields T-9. Salt corrosion can be avoided to a significant degree.

Salt Corrosion on Boats
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Old 22-06-2021, 17:13   #14
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post

The other issue you may find is if the head is flushed with salt water, you can get a sulfur smell if you don't use the boat for a week or two. It has something to do with the inlet hoses.

Itís not tie hoses, itís the sea life that is in the hoses that dies and stinks (plankton, algae, etcÖ).
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Old 22-06-2021, 19:40   #15
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Re: Fresh Water to Salt - Preparations

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We cruise extensively from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas. What the southern sailors (and surveyors) see as normal is anathema on Great Lakes.

Spray every piece of metal and electrical contact inside the boat with Boeshields T-9. Salt corrosion can be avoided to a significant degree.

Salt Corrosion on Boats
This is great information, do you spray for example, blanket coat the engine with that stuff? Or, just bare metal areas.

Can anyone tell me why some boats have sea strainers and some don't? My intake seacock has a grill but there's probably 1/8 inch between each grill tooth. A minnow could probably swim in there. Would my coolant system just cook it and puke it out?
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