Remote-controlled, or RC, boats are great for exploring lakes, rivers, and even swimming pools. You might want to know if you can use your RC boat in saltwater, especially if you live near an ocean. Can you use your RC boat in saltwater, or will the salt ruin your boat?
RC boats are not made to be used in saltwater due to choppy conditions and the extra corrosion from salt. They aren’t built for choppy conditions, which can cause a lot of damage, and saltwater is more corrosive than fresh water to the metal materials used to create RC boats.
This article will go through what will happen if you use your RC boat in a body of saltwater. It will also tell you how to prevent corrosion if you do use it in saltwater.
What Are the Dangers of Using RC Boats in Saltwater?
The dangers of using RC boats in the saltwater center around corrosion and damage to the electronics. Saltwater also has currents, tides, and waves which make the waters rough and which can capsize your boat, causing it to sink. You also run the risk of voiding the warranty.
If you’ve browsed online RC boat communities, you may have seen this question hotly debated. Some people say they can use their RC boat in saltwater with small modifications and regular maintenance.
While it’s true that saltwater won’t immediately cause your RC boat to malfunction, most manufacturers point out in their user’s manual that they are not for saltwater use. That means that if your RC boat is damaged while being used in saltwater, you won’t be able to get a refund for it.
RC boat manufacturers don’t recommend their products for saltwater use for a few good reasons:
Saltwater Corrodes RC Boats
Saltwater is much more corrosive to boats than freshwater. Believe it or not, this has to do with electricity.
Saltwater is a natural conductor since it’s full of dissociating ions. Because of increased electrolysis reactions, corrosion will happen to metals much faster in salt water than in freshwater.
Keep in mind that freshwater will also damage boats over the long term, especially if you leave them in the water overnight. Water oxidizes metals like iron over time, so corrosion and damage may occur if you aren’t careful.
Saltwater Damages Electronics
Saltwater is also damaging to the electronics on RC boats in a way that freshwater isn’t.
Because of all the electric reactions in saltwater, saltwater will fry any electronics on an RC boat if too much of it splashes onboard.
If you spent any time on RC boat forums, you might have seen people online saying that they simply cover their electronics with plastic bags. The problem with this is that it isn’t foolproof, and saltwater tends to be rougher than freshwater.
If one of your protective measures falls loose while it’s on the water and your boat’s technology gets fried, you risk losing your RC boat entirely.
Rough Waters Can Destroy RC Boats
If you live on the beach and want to take your RC boat for a spin along the shore at low tide, you might end up with your boat suddenly damaged beyond repair. According to the Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology, most RC boats are not built to withstand rough waters.
Oceans are huge bodies of water, and small events can have huge ripples. RC boats aren’t usually much bigger than 17in (43.18cm), hardly a foot and a half. Before you know it, the tides can suddenly change, and your boat could capsize.
If you have access to a saltwater estuary or another still body of water, you may not run into as much choppy water as you would in the ocean. Still, because of all the other issues that come with saltwater sailing, you shouldn’t sail in salt water, even in the clearest weather.
What To Do if You Get Your RC Boat in Saltwater
Maybe you already took your RC boat into saltwater before realizing that this wasn’t proper practice. If that’s the case, don’t worry! There are things you may be able to do to make sure your RC boat is relatively undamaged.
Determine if Electronics Are Damaged
If you damage your boat’s electronics in saltwater, you can talk to the toy’s manufacturer to see if you can purchase new tech for your boat.
They may also tell you that you need to get a new boat entirely.
Flush With Freshwater
If your electronics are undamaged, you should rinse your boat off with fresh water. That will remove any salty crust that may have accumulated and stop any more electric reactions.
Once rinsed, allow the boat to dry completely before storing away.
Use a lubricant made especially for RC boats. Your boat may have come with a specific lubricant, but if you need to buy some, Labelle Lubricants’ R/C Grease & Gear Oil from Amazon.com is made of Teflon and is safe on all kinds of plastics.
What if, I don’t have any nearby freshwater lakes to play with my boat?
If you do like to “live on the edge” and test your boat to the limits, here are the best saltwater RC boats, which we feel, they would last even producer doesn’t recommend it:
For those of you, who don’t want to risk your newly bought RC boats on saltwater, we have some freshwater recommendations for you.
Best RC Boats for Freshwater
Here are some of the best boats to put in freshwater that will withstand the wear and tear of water corrosion:
The Force1 Velocity is one of the fastest boats on the market, reaching speeds of over 20 mph (32km/h). And its capsize recovery mode will help right the boat if you turn too quickly and flip her upside down.
Capsize recovery means you can drive the Velocity fast without worrying about sinking her.
It comes with a 4-channel remote that can reach a distance of up to 120 meters (393 feet). Its engine is water-cooled, so the chances of it overheating are much lower.
That will keep your boat from filling with water and sinking.
- Features capsize recovery mode.
- Water-cooled engine.
- One of the fastest on the market, reaching over 20 mph (32 km/h).
- Among the most popular boats on Amazon.
- Not made for saltwater use.
- Pricier than some other models.
The SZJJX RC boat’s engine will only start when it detects water, protecting the engine from damage and preserving battery life. This helps ensure you don’t burn out your boat’s engine by accidentally activating it out of water.
The SZJJX’s ABS anti-impact material reduces the boat’s resistance as it sails through the water, speeding its progress through the water and letting you drive and maneuver more quickly. Better maneuverability makes the SZJJX more fun to drive.
However, it’s not quite as fast as some of the other models on the market, only reaching up to 16 mph or 25 km/h. That may not sound fast, but keep in mind that these are small boats, and 16 mph is much faster than it looks.
- ABS anti-impact material.
- Rechargeable battery: 20 minutes of use for 3 hours of charging.
- Capsize recovery.
- Not made for saltwater use.
- Not as fast as other boats on the market, reaching only 16 mph (25 km/h).
The DEERC 2008 RC boat has two kinds of throttle modes, allowing you to better control the speed of your boat. You can set the remote to a lower throttle so your children can drive your boat around the pool without worrying they might drive too fast and damage your boat.
The DEERC 2008 also comes with two LED lights at the front and two at the back, which can all be turned on and off independently. That means that you can use this boat both by day and by night.
This boat can’t go past 16 mph or 25 km/h either. As stated above, you might find that 16 mph is as fast as you’d like to go anyway, especially if you’re a beginner.
- Two throttle modes for greater control.
- Four LED lights.
- Comes with two batteries, giving you over 30 minutes of playtime if you have both fully charged.
- Not made for saltwater use.
- Cannot go faster than 16 mph (25 km/h).