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If you live near an ocean you have probably wondered if you can take your RC boat onto if or if the salt water will damage the boat. In this article I will do my best to answer this common question.
Can you use RC boats in saltwater?
RC boats can be used in saltwater if they are sufficiently cleaned after they are used. The boat should also be adequately prepared before using it. Without proper care and maintenance, the boat will become corroded and its lifespan will be shortened.
RC boats can be used in both saltwater and freshwater as long as some precautions and maintenance are performed. By performing some basic tasks before using the boat and completing simple after-care after using the boat in saltwater, the boat will stay clean and be usable for a long tie.
Preventing Damage to the Boat
Saltwater can and will cause rust. By cleaning your boat after each use, you can prevent rust from occurring, thus extending the life of your boat. Cleaning the boat is a simple process, and just requires fresh water and soap.
The soap should be neutral or alkaline in nature to ensure there is no chemical reaction between the saltwater and the soap. After you wash the boat, ensure it is completely dry prior to storing it.
Before Using the Boat
It is best to take some precautions before using your boat.
- Tighten screws: Make sure all the screws on your boat are tight, which will prevent rust and oxidation. Ensure you pay attention to the rudders, propeller, and engine mount.
- Seal openings: All openings in the radio box should be sealed with silicone. Store the receiver in a plastic bag with a hole cut open for the antenna.
Taking these precautions will help with the maintenance of the boat, and ensure it is not ruined by saltwater.
If the Boat Capsizes
No matter how skilled you are at using your boat, all boats face the possibility of capsizing. When the boat capsizes, saltwater will get inside. Precautions should be taken to ensure this does not happen.While some boats will turn themselves over if they capsize, these steps will prevent damage to your boat in the event it capsizes:
- Prevent it from sinking: Insert empty soda bottles into the bow of your boat. This can be accomplished by removing the lids from the bottles, squeezing the bottles flat, and laying them on their sides. Once they are inserted, fill them back up with air, and put the lids back on.
- Remove water from the boat immediately: Perhaps the most important thing you can do if your boat capsizes is to remove all water from the boat as soon as possible.
Caring for your Boat after Use
After using your boat in saltwater, it’s best to perform the following steps to maintain your boat and ensure it remains clean and ready for its next use. If the boat happened to sink or flip during usage, you should tap the toy to remove any water that is inside before proceeding to the below steps.
There are three steps to take:
- Give it a deep clean—while you can wash your boat before using it, it is best to wash it immediately after it has been saltwater using neutral soap. Also, ensure that fresh water is used for cleaning, never use saltwater! You’ll want a strong lather of soap and to clean each piece of the boat thoroughly. Once it is all soaped up, give it a good rinse with fresh water to remove all the soap.
- Make sure you wipe it dry—drying the boat can be just as important as washing it. You don’t want any water left on the boat, especially on any metal parts. While the boat can air dry to finish the drying process, it is recommended that you dry it with a cloth to remove the heavy moisture.
- Lubricate everything—to prevent corrosion and make sure the boat operates efficiently next time; you should lubricate the boat after it is washed and cleaned. RC manufacturers will sell oil that should be used for lubrication. The oil should never be placed directly on the boat; instead, place the oil on a cloth, and rub the boat with the cloth.
Optional maintenance you could perform would be to spray the entire boat with WD-40 after the above three steps are taken. This would increase lubrication and could help prolong the lifetime of the boat.
Here is a video showing the proper care and maintenance required for your boat:
What Happens If You Don’t Maintain It?
If you do not properly clean, lubricate, and maintain your boat after using in salt water, there are several ramifications:
- Mechanical features will stop functioning
- Increased future maintenance
- High cost to order replacement parts
Not surprisingly, the biggest problem you will encounter is rust. Rust will immediately take away from the lifetime of the boat and cause operational problems.
In addition to rust and corrosion, some of the mechanical features will likely stop working. It is possible that these could be repaired, but it’s not a guarantee and might cost you much money.
It is harder to repair and fix a boat than it is to perform the proper maintenance in the first place. A small, routine chore, would be replaced by unknown hours and expenses trying to restore life to your RC boat when problems could be prevented with routine maintenance.
Ultimately, it’s absolutely imperative you clean, lubricate, and dry your boat before storing it for the next use.
For Extra Help Cleaning Saltwater
If you find that normal maintenance is not quite doing the job, or if you find that your vessel spent much time underwater, there are products that can assist with your after-care process. These products are very efficient at removing all saltwater and salt spray, which will help prevent rust and corrosion. They are safe to use on a regular basis and may be included with regular cleanings. Or, you can also use only periodically when looking to give the boat a deeper clean.
- Salt-Away Products Cleanser Concentrate – This is typically used to remove salt from larger vehicles exposed to salt spray (cars, boats, trailers, etc.)
- Star Brite Salt Off Protector – This is a very effective way to remove salt from anything exposed to saltwater (fishing bait, vessels, dive gear, etc.)
Who Can Help If You Need Repairs?
If you get just a bit carried away doing backflips with your RC boat and are unable to perform necessary maintenance in order to restore functionality, there are some resources available to help restore your boat’s original functionality.
- Many cities worldwide have small hobby shops who might employ personnel who are familiar with RC vehicles.
- Additionally, there are online discussion forums and YouTube videos full of other people who have been in your shoes and might be experienced with what you need to do to repair your vessel.
Should You Stick to Freshwater?
While it is indeed possible to utilize an RC boat in saltwater, is the before and aftercare worth it? Or, would you be better off sticking to freshwater?
While the maintenance can seem cumbersome, it is absolutely worth it, and the life of your boat can be extended for years of enjoyment with proper care and maintenance.
Best RC Boats Available
You’ve now determined it is possible and absolutely worth it to use an RC boat in saltwater. Are you now wondering, what is the right boat for me? Here are several highly rated RC boats that can be used in saltwater:
Good for Kids and Adults (Amazon)
Lengthy Battery Life (Amazon)