Washing Decks

I am looking for opinions about washing down the decks after a sail. In the past we have used a salt water wash down, but now there is a push to use fresh water on the grounds that it is less corrosive to fittings etc. thus reducing larger maintenance problems, plus it results in a nicer appearance (no salt crust). The decks are long leaf yellow pine, treated regularly with 1/2 tung oil & 1/2 mineral spirits. Which is better, salt or fresh, or both?

Salt is better for the wood.

Salt is better for the wood. When old wooden boats get laid up they usually die from the top down as rain water and wood often make mashed potatoes. Having said that a fresh lite rinse is a nice thing for the people. My preference on a wooden boat would be a hard rinse with salt water followed by a lite fresh rinse. That way deep in the cracks where rot can start lies some salt but on the outside where people lounge it's fresh.

If the wood is well sealed/painted the effect on metal fastenings is minimal to non existent. If the wood is poorly sealed then it is hard to say what is worse, the salt on the metal or the fresh promoting rot.


We have used a salt water wash down pump for years and I concur w/ George (also great way to get mud off the chain anchor rhode before its on the deck). The issue is not going to be your long leaf decks (they won't rot), its your frame heads, deck beam ends, and their attachment to the clamp that suffers if your covering boards leak, plus also corner knees in the transom and fresh water is getting to them. You might spend some time surveying those places. A little reefing and recaulking can fore stall a lot of long term damage to those timbers, and washing down w/ salt water won't hurt. Note last woodenboat issue and see how well Brilliant stood the test of time due to proper maintence when her deck was replaced this last year.

I don't mind the little crust salt water leaves, it kinda makes me feel right at home - a little crusty.