Walking down the docks in your local marina, it’s clear to see what boat owners take the time to properly clean the vessel of salt and apply wax as needed. A poorly maintained boat is an unpleasant sight and will be challenging to sell. Salt environments are incredibly corrosive; in fact, metal is corroded five times faster in saltwater than in freshwater. The vessel must be well washed after every use in addition to a minimum of weekly rinses when remaining dockside. 

Will My Boat Get Salty If Left At The Marina?

Depending on the location of the marina, salt accumulation can vary based on proximity to the ocean. While one marina may require a rinse once per month, others may be necessary daily based on wind direction. 

How To Remove Salt From Your Boat

When it comes to properly removing salt from your boat after a journey offshore, follow these steps. 

  • Don’t be stingy on the amount of water you use and use a nozzle that allows for a high-pressure stream.
  • Always start from the top down. It doesn’t make any sense to rinse the lower portions, and then the top, all of the salt will make its way down to the already cleaned areas. 
  • An often overlooked area is overheads and, for example, the bottom of a T-Top or bimini top. Seawater mists in the air and will quickly coat these places.
  • When detailing stainless steel, either slide your hand along the underside of railings or use a sponge. It’s not uncommon to complete a rinse down and find a narrow salt line under all horizontal rails. 
  • Open hatches and detail the scuppers that keep water from entering dry space.
  • Access the bilge area and blast enough water to activate the bilge pump and help pump out small debris that may have accumulated. 
  • If you deployed the anchor, open the storage bin, and rinse the anchor line or chain. 
  • One area that can be difficult to reach are sections of the hull. Many boats are built with a large bow flair making it hard to get just under the gunnel. Another challenge is access to the hull opposite the dock. You may need to flip the boat around in the slip for a complete cleaning of the hull.
  • Depending on the type of engine, outboard motors should be raised and flushed with a freshwater hose. Most come standard with a connection. Simply attach the hose, turn on the water, and start the engine. Run the motor for up to five minutes for a thorough flush.
  • While its raised, clean off the engine cowling’s backside, it can be hard to reach.
  • Rinse down all cushions and allow them to dry before placing snap-on covers or stowing them to avoid the possibility of mold growth.
  • Gently spray marine electronics, do not blast them with high pressure, allow them to dry, and cover the electronics.
  • Inspect and douse motor steering components with water on all outboards.
  • If you were out fishing clean rods and reels to avoid having to this back at the house.
  • Make a final inspection by rubbing your hand along surfaces to ensure all of the salt has been removed.
  • Place coverings on all areas of the boat to which you have a custom fit cover.

What Happens If You Don’t Rinse Your Boat Down?

Taking the time each and every time you come back to the dock will save you both time and money in the long run. Rust removal is labor-intensive, and the products to remove it can become costly. Additionally, on fiberglass surfaces, salt etches into the paint. Heavy buffing may be necessary if salt stays on the hull and becomes embedded. You’ll find once you have a routine, the process is quick and will keep your boat in much better condition and with less needed maintenance.