boat rustIf you own a boat, you might have seen rust on it. That’s okay, it happens. Over time, built-up boat rust can be annoying, but also quite dangerous! Believe us when we tell you that you do not want rust on your boat. 

In this article, we will talk about the basics of boat rust. How you can get it, prevent and treat it, and why you shouldn’t keep it. And while it seems like dealing with rust is troublesome, it really isn’t. So read on! 

What Makes Boat Rust So Bad? 

It’s normal to want to have a “badge of honor” on something you love, like your boat. It serves as proof that a particular item you’ve been using still survives the test of time. But rust is not one of them. Especially not on a boat. As soon as you see patches of it on your vessel, you must treat it at once. 

Why? Rust will eat away at your boat’s structural integrity. In simpler terms, it weakens your boat and affects its seaworthiness. It’s a form of corrosion born of basic science. When a metal like iron gets exposed to oxygen in the water and air, it oxidizes and forms iron oxide. And the thing about rust is it replaces the strong metal with brittle, flaky powder. Ever wonder why rusted metal is easy to break? That’s the science behind it. 

But rust does not stop there. If you’re fond of sailing in the ocean, you have to deal with the salt in both the air and water. This salt will contribute further to damage on any exposed surface of your boat. Not just the metal ones. And when there’s enough salt, corrosive microorganisms will latch onto any surface. Yikes. 

Related: Boat Inspection: Everything You Need to Know

boat corrosionPreventing Rust 

The old saying “prevention is better than cure” still applies to this. You can prevent rust buildup on your boat, more so on areas that need it the most. Like the engines and the underside of the hull. 


You will need to find a way to keep moisture off the metal if you want to prevent rust. Good thing there’s a lot of products that can do that! Some of the best products keep rust at bay by forming a protective coating on the metal. This keeps moisture away and therefore rust can’t form on it! You can buy such products at almost any hardware store. 


If you want to go old school, just go with paint. But you will have to use marine paint. The reason why is because normal house paints can’t produce a coat durable enough. It would not withstand the punishing nature of marine environments. 

Wipe Down

After you’re done sailing and your boat is off to storage, try to wipe down its hull. This will help remove any moisture and salt buildup on it. Dry everything that you can reach.

Related: Boat Cleaning Hacks: Tips & Tricks for a Spotless Boat

Treating Boat Rust 

Don’t be disheartened even if rust still forms despite all your efforts to prevent it. Sometimes, it finds a way. But it isn’t the end. 

  • Removing rust from metal. Let’s start with the metal. Specialized products can remove rust from almost any metal surface. Steel, cast iron, stainless, it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is spray on the affected area, wait about a minute, then wipe dry. 
  • Removing rust from gelcoat finish. Cleaning rust from gelcoat is a bit easier, because the surface is rather smooth to begin with. All you need is a little bit of specially formulated soap, some warm water, and something to wipe it with.

Related: DIY Boat Restoration in 5 Easy Steps

Rust is a harsh reality that any boat owner must deal with. Still, it can be managed! All you need is to be vigilant with your boat’s maintenance. Keep it clean and dry as much as you can, especially when it’s off the water. That way, you’ll be able to preserve your vessel for more fun sailing trips in the future.