Are Jet Boats Good in Saltwater?

Jet boats are a worthwhile investment for a fun time, but it is important to know how they work, especially across different bodies of water. For example, if you plan on taking your new jet boat on saltwater, you should know that it will behave differently compared to navigating across freshwater. 

Are Jet Boats Good in Saltwater?

Are jet boats good in saltwater? Jet boats can work in saltwater, but it comes with drawbacks. For one, they are not equipped with the right gear to handle saltwater, so you may experience slower speeds or more resistance in steering. In addition, without proper maintenance after a saltwater trip, they may see long-term damage.

As you can see, saltwater can really hurt these vessels down the line.

For that reason, it is important that you make sure your jet boat is prepared to travel on saltwater before trying it, and that you take extra good care of your boat’s water pump and engine afterward.

Doing so will take extra time, but it can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs later. 

The Effects of Saltwater Boating on Jet Boats

How well a jet boat can hold up when exposed to saltwater depends on how much you use your vessel in salt water and how well you clean it.

In general, saltwater can corrode the metal of a jet boat much faster and can make removing the water pump or replacing the bearings a disaster.

Also, saltwater boating can often be much rougher and require a hull designed to handle rougher conditions.

What Jet Boats Need to Take on Saltwater

The appropriate hull and an engine with a cooling system are both necessary things a jet boat should have before taking on saltwater for the first time:

The Hull

Most freshwater vessels have a hull that is designed to take on the calm freshwater, closer to the shore, and with much smaller waves.

You can certainly take your boat out for a day on the ocean if it’s a calm day without huge swells, but a hull designed for freshwater will make for a rough ride in the thick of the ocean.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have the right kind of hull for the waters you want to be in.

Consulting a professional before heading out would be a good idea as well, considering you have probably invested a lot into your jet boat.

The Engine Cooling

Flushing out your engine after saltwater use is extremely important. Leaving it as is leads to terrible corrosion.

For this reason, boats designed specifically for saltwater have cooling systems that prevent this damage. They automatically flush out the engine, so you don’t have to do it manually.

If you are using your freshwater boat on salt water for the first time, go slow; there is no shame in starting out slow rather than rushing into it. Stay in shallower waters and see how your boat handles it. 

Jet Boat Saltwater Damage Prevention

Just because jet boats aren’t built for saltwater does not mean it’s impossible to use them on such bodies of water.

Fortunately, there are tricks to take care of your boat, so you can avoid extensive saltwater damage; here are some simple things to remember:  

  • Remove the intake shoe and the eight bolts that hold the bearing carrier and the jet pump. Then coat the bolt threads with Never Seez. It takes time but is worth it in the long run.
  • Regularly flush out your engine, trailer, and bilge. This helps prevent corrosion and makes your boat last longer.
  • If you are going to be on saltwater more regularly, use Never Seez on the bolts holding the water pump cover too. The bolts become near impossible to get out after years on saltwater.

Upgrading Your Jet Boat for Saltwater

Now, let’s talk about upgrades. Because it’s not as easy—or as financially reasonable—for anyone to buy a second boat dedicated to saltwater boating, there’s always the option to upgrade your current jet boat to handle saltwater better.

Here’s a list of changes that don’t involve a whole new boat: 

  • Anodes: You’ll need to change the magnesium anodes on your boat to aluminum or zinc. This is to help with the corrosive qualities of salt. You should also replace them yearly or if they are more than half destroyed. Maintenance is key.
  • Engine: You will also probably want to upgrade your engine to one that has a self-flushing capability. Engine options can be found at MarinePowerUSA.
  • Bottom Paint: The bottom paint will also have to change early on. You will be fine for a few weeks in saltwater without paint, but it is a necessity. Antifouling paint is a must. Also, it’s best not to go for a heavy polish on your boat, as the salt will destroy it.
  • Hardware: As for hardware, it’s best to go for stainless steel, as it holds together better. 

Moving Your Jet Boat from Fresh to Saltwater

Now: a lot of you boaters who want to move to Florida for your retirement—don’t think it will be so easy to cart your boat with you. When moving your boat, it’s important to know the conditions of where you’re going. 

The effect salt water has on your boat can vary depending on the salinity (amount of salt in the water), and that can vary depending on whether it’s a rainy or dry season. 

  • Salinity: The amount of salt in the water varies by the temperature of the area. In a region where the temperatures are high, and water is being evaporated a lot more, the salinity is higher. That is because when the water evaporates, the salt has nowhere to go, and the concentration of it increases.
  • Seasons: Whether it’s the rainy or dry season also affects the salinity. When it is the rainy season, the influx of rainwater dilutes the ocean water, reducing the salinity. On the other hand, when it’s the dry season, water just evaporates, and the salinity rises.

Remember to research and prepare for the change in your maintenance routine early on based on what you can find out from an area’s environmental conditions.

Your docking routine will also have to adapt to be able to spot signs of corrosion and deterioration early.

Knowing what to look for is just as, if not more, important than upgrading parts.

Safety Practices When First Moving Your Boat to Saltwater

It can be intimidating to take your jet boat out on saltwater, what with everything that can go wrong.

But just because it’s challenging and unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s impossible—as long as you are smart.

With that said, better to err on the side of caution, so here are some strong suggestions when starting your saltwater journey:

  • Communication: Always have a communication system or VHS radio if you need to call for help.
  • Medical Help: Have an emergency first-aid kit in case of accidents, and be aware of all emergency information.
  • Safety Gear: Have life jackets for every passenger, a Coast-Guard approved B-1 fire extinguisher and an anchor with enough anchor line for your area.
  • Night Driving: Avoid taking your boat out at night, as many boats are not equipped with navigation lights. 

And this is especially important: Never operate a jet boat without proper training and registration. This is for the safety of yourself, your passengers, and fellow boaters around you. 

Final Thoughts

It’s a good idea for anyone who is serious about boating to research and find out how their jet boat reacts to different bodies of water.

Jet boats can run just as well on saltwater as freshwater, but you need to be mindful of the things you need take care of when prepping the boat and maintaining it after a saltwater excursion; it’s the only way you can ensure your favorite vessel will last you for years to come. 

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