Salt water is a harsher environment than fresh water. Gear in salt water (heat exchangers, standing rigging, lifelines, etc.) will wear out faster in salt water. I don't know how much faster, but definitely faster. Regarding engine, there is a big difference between raw water and fresh water cooling. My engine is fresh water cooled and my boat is in salt water. I expect that my heat exchanger may wear out, but the engine should last as long as a fresh water engine.
I live and sail in the north east. The water is salt, but the season is fairly short, so I think that helps keep boats in good condition. My boat isn't even in any water from November until April.
02-16-2009 06:14 PM
Many boats have lasted in saltwater you shouldn't be worried about the engine switching there are probably worse things to worry about.
02-16-2009 05:23 PM
My engine is a 1969 Perkins and has spent it's whole life in Salt water and I expect many more years of service. If the engine you are considering is raw water cooled and has no heat exchanger then it should be a topic of concern.
02-16-2009 05:12 PM
From Salt Water to Fresh Water
I do all of my sailing on the Great Lakes ( Lake Erie to be exact). While looking at potential boats I have found the selection to be best on the East coast. That would mean, however, that I'd be bring a saltwater boat back for use on freah water. I'm looking at boats fo the 1980 to 1986 vintage. How concern should I be about a saltwater engine? I know saltwater is a bit tuffer on equipment than freshwater, but am I overly concerned about a issue that is not that important?