Untroubled Waters – Rust Prevention for Sailors
Passionate sailors will be vaguely aware that their yacht has an engine and a fuel tank, somewhere below decks. While the idea of using it may be against their competitive sailing ethics, there are some benefits to keeping it in good working order. In an emergency, however mortified you may be to use the engine, it could just prove to be a life saver. Of course if you’ve ignored it for so long that it has rusted away, then you could be in trouble.
Yachts, ocean going or not, are loved by rust the world over. The combination of metal and water make it ideal for rust to settle and slowly devour your pride and joy. Most yacht owners actively ensure their boats are well kept and cleaned, and vigilance against rust is paramount for sailors. Apart from being ugly on the visible parts of the yacht, the corrosion it can cause in hidden areas can prove disastrous. The engine and the fuel tank are particularly vulnerable and are the most likely areas to be neglected if not regularly used. Exposed to bilge fluid cleaners, salt water or the fresh variety, the fuel tank is particularly subjected to the influences of corrosion. Replacing the tank is simple and most chandlers will be happy to take your custom, as fuel tanks and engine parts are often very expensive. Care and maintenance will pay dividends.
Rust prevention is of course the best course to follow. Once rust has taken hold it will happily spread out of control, if left unchecked, and although there are a good range of rust treatment products available they are less effective than preventing the rot in the first place. Rust treatments act by converting the rust itself into an iron compound, this then seals the undamaged metal below, stopping the progress of the rust. The problem with the treatment techniques is that they usually require the rust to be completely dry. This is hard enough to achieve for land lubbers never mind for those working in a damp, watery environment. Leaving the treatment to the end of the season when you can get the boat of the water is fine, but it allows the problem time to develop, porous rust will draw in more water and the tank or engine parts will deteriorate quickly. You’ll almost be able to hear the distant sounds of a boat chandler rubbing his or her hands.
Rust prevention is the best way to avoid expensive problems. This applies equally to any metal work that can fall subject to rusting – on or off the water. To prolong the life of that fuel tank and engine, the trick is simply not to forget them when you are taking care of your yacht. Check the fuel tank and engine regularly even if you have no intention of using them and make sure they get the same loving care as the rest of your vessel.