How to Protect Your Gear From Saltwater

ArticleMay 24, 2011

Ah, life by the sea! Beautiful vistas, sandy beaches, limitless horizons… and the corrosive effects of seawater and salt air. Keeping your gear in good condition when using it on and around the sea takes extra care and regular preventative maintenance.

Metals and Saltwater

Todd getting ready, off the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.Metals really suffer from exposure to these conditions. The surfaces of many metals corrode, giving a pitted, rough appearance. Over time, the corrosion can weaken the material and cause structural failure. In a much shorter time, moving parts can be ruined.

Galvanic corrosion is a process that occurs when there’s a connection between two dissimilar metals that are then exposed to a great electrolyte solution, like saltwater. So, when you have an aluminum carabineer or cam buckle, with a steel hinge pin on the gate or spring clip, you have the perfect setup for gear-wrecking corrosion.

After using metal gear on the water, wash it in a mild soap solution and rinse thoroughly in fresh water. A light spray of water displacing lubricant like WD-40 can provide protection. Check local hardware or marine supply stores for other corrosion protectants. Store this type of gear in a dry place, away from salt air.

Neoprene and Saltwater

Todd sliding through the salt.Neoprene items, like wetsuits, gloves and booties, suffer damage over time from saltwater. Be sure to rinse well with fresh water after each use. Gear Aid Wetsuit Shampoo removes salt deposits and organic debris, rejuvenating neoprene and prolonging the life of your garments. Let your neoprene air-dry before storing in a cool, dark place. Hang wetsuits on wide-topped hangers to prevent creases and compression at the shoulders. Wetsuit Shampoo also works great on PFDs, splashwear, drywear, and other apparel items.

Especially in southern latitudes, gear takes a beating from the sun’s UV rays. 303 Aerospace Protectant gives you SPF 40 sunscreen protection for boats, apparel, fishing gear, sails, etc.

Living by the sea and boating on it is great. Just be sure to take the extra time and effort of cleaning and protecting your gear to prolong its life.