Aluminum boats are an ideal choice for those who spend a lot of time on the water, as they are durable and well-suited for saltwater use. Quite often we hear aluminum boats being referred to as “freshwater-only” boats, and this is simply not the case. In fact, aluminum boats are an excellent choice for both salt and freshwater use, provided they are properly maintained.
One of the best choices for aluminum boat construction is the magnesium-based 5000 series alloy, as it provides excellent strength and usability. Aluminum hull thickness plays an important role in the overall durability of the vessel, with thicker hulls being more resistant to wear and tear.
Whether you are an experienced boater or just looking to purchase your first aluminum boat, it is important to take care of your vessel and ensure that it stays in good condition. This can be done by using antifouling paints and installing sacrificial anodes to prevent galvanic reactions between different metals in the boat.
Modern Aluminum Boats are Made for Saltwater Usage
Aluminum boats have come a long way in recent years and are now made with saltwater use in mind. Many manufacturers build their boats using marine-grade aluminum that is designed to withstand the rigors of saltwater usage. This type of aluminum is often used in saltwater fishing boats, as it is more resistant to corrosion than regular aluminum.
When it comes to saltwater usage, it is important to remember that aluminum boats will require more maintenance than their fiberglass or plastic counterparts. Perfect for fishing and other activities on the water, aluminum boats are a great choice for those who spend a lot of time on the salt.
Most aluminum boats come powder coated. This gives the boat a layer of protection against the elements and helps to prevent corrosion. Being moisture-resistant and corrosion-resistant are two of the main reasons why the coating is applied in the first place.
It is important to note that while powder coating does provide protection, it is not impenetrable. In order to keep your aluminum boat in good condition, it is important to wash it regularly and apply a fresh coat of paint or sealant when necessary. This will help to extend the life of your boat and keep it looking its best.
Why Alloys Are Used for Aluminum Boats?
To give these boats more strength and corrosion resistance Magnesium and Bronze alloys are used for their aluminum boats. These alloys help to reduce the weight of the overall vessel and also give it a sleek look.
Pure aluminum metal is prone to corrosion in saltwater, which is why it is often alloyed with other metals to create a more durable material. When mixed to form a stable alloy with other metals that lend themselves well to boatbuilding, such as magnesium, zinc, and copper, aluminum becomes much more resistant to corrosion.
Aluminum 6061 which comprises Magnesium and Silicon is one of the most popular aluminum alloys for saltwater boats. As it is resistant to both stress and corrosion, this particular alloy is often used in saltwater fishing boats and other vessels that spend extended periods of time on the water.
Having excellent fatigue strength and Elastic properties most boat manufacturers prefer 6061 alloys for their aluminum boat construction. As it is easily welded and formed this particular alloy is also used in the fabrication of boat hulls and other parts.
Aluminum boats that are made from 5000 series alloys such as 5052, 5086, and 5456 are also quite popular. These alloys contain magnesium as the primary alloying element, which gives them added strength and corrosion resistance.
5052 aluminum in particular is often used in saltwater fishing boats, as it has excellent weldability and forming properties. It is also resistant to stress cracking, making it a good choice for boat hulls and other parts that are subject to high levels of stress.
Ease of fabrication is one of the main reasons why aluminum is chosen as a construction material for boats. It can be easily cut, welded, and shaped into the desired design without much effort.
Resistance to corrosion is another major advantage that aluminum has over other materials. This is due to the fact that aluminum forms a thin oxide layer on its surface when exposed to air or water, which protects the metal from further corrosion.
Antifouling Paint Makes Aluminum Boats Good for Saltwater
One of the most important things to consider when using an aluminum boat in saltwater is the need for antifouling paint. This type of paint helps to prevent marine organisms from attaching themselves to the hull of the boat, which can cause damage and decrease the vessel’s performance.
There are many different types of antifouling paints available on the market, so it is important to choose one that is compatible with aluminum. Many of these paints contain copper, which is an effective biocide against marine growth. However, copper-based paints can cause corrosion in aluminum boats, so it is important to read the label carefully before making a purchase.
It is also a good idea to apply a coat of wax or polymer sealant over the antifouling paint to create a barrier against marine growth. This will help to prolong the life of the paint and keep your boat looking its best.
Installing Sacrificial Anodes
Another way to protect your aluminum boat from corrosion is to install sacrificial anodes. These are metal plates that are attached to the hull of the vessel and act as a sacrificial element, corroding in place of the boat itself.
Sacrificial anodes are made from materials such as zinc, aluminum, or magnesium, which are more reactive than steel or aluminum boats. This means that they will corrode first, sacrificing themselves to protect the boat.
It is important to check the sacrificial anodes on a regular basis and replace them when they are completely corroded. Otherwise, they will no longer be effective and your boat will be at risk of corrosion.
The appearance of pinholes and blisters in hulls are common problems that arise in aluminum boats. These can be caused by a number of factors, including electrolysis, galvanic corrosion, or abrasion.
If you notice any of these problems, it is important to have them repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, they will only get worse and can eventually lead to structural problems.
Freshwater After Every Saltwater Usage
It is also important to remember to rinse your boat with fresh water after every saltwater usage. This will help to remove any salt residue that could cause corrosion.
Salt can penetrate into the pores of the aluminum, causing it to weaken and become susceptible to corrosion. This is why it is important to rinse your boat thoroughly after every saltwater usage.
It is also a good idea to have your boat professionally cleaned on a regular basis. This will help to remove any salt build-up that could cause problems down the road.
If you are storing your boat in a saltwater environment, it is essential to cover the exposed aluminum surfaces with a coat of wax or sealant. This will create a barrier against the salt and help to prevent corrosion.
By following these tips, you can keep your aluminum boat in good condition and enjoy many years of trouble-free use.
Special Care for Riveted Aluminum Boats
If your aluminum boat is riveted, it is important to check the condition of the rivets on a regular basis. Rivets are subject to corrosion and can eventually fail, so it is important to inspect them regularly and replace any that are damaged.
Over time joints in rivets can loosen, so it is important to check them periodically and tighten them if necessary. Riveted aluminum boats require more maintenance than welded boats, but they are still a good choice for those who want a durable and long-lasting vessel.
Modern aluminum boats have no problems in saltwater as long as they are properly cared for. This includes using the right type of antifouling paint, installing sacrificial anodes, and rinsing the boat with fresh water after each use. Riveted aluminum boats require more maintenance than welded boats, but they are still a good choice for those who want a durable and long-lasting vessel. By following these tips, you can keep your aluminum boat in good condition and enjoy many years of trouble-free use.