Recently I had the privilege to work with some fellow boats.com contributors -- Lenny Rudow and Zuzanna Prochazka -- as a judge for innovation awards at the Miami Boat Show. I’ve done this once before and enjoyed the experience immensely. Where else can I see a totally comprehensive array of new products in a variety of categories, all in one place?

In this underwater light fixture, stainless steel screws connect dissimilar metals -- bronze and aluminum. In salt water, this is recipe for galvanic corrosion.

In this underwater light fixture, stainless steel screws connect dissimilar metals -- bronze and aluminum. In salt water, this is recipe for galvanic corrosion.



With all of this comes some good and some bad. I see things that others may not notice. The photo illustrates one of the bad things that caught my eye.

The photo was on one of the increasingly popular pontoon boats on display at the show. In particular, this boat was billing itself as a “Saltwater Version." That statement got my attention as I looked at the bronze underwater light fixture screwed to the aluminum bracket welded directly to the port-side pontoon. I asked the representative from the builder about this, and he assured me that there was a rubber insulating barrier between the back of the light fixture and the aluminum mounting surface, so all would be well.

I respectfully disagree! A galvanic cell has been created. The bronze is in direct contact with the stainless steel screws holding everything in place onto the aluminum. We have two dissimilar metals connected together via the stainless screws. Add salt water, and you have the electrolyte needed to create a battery. In this case the aluminum will lose out to the bronze fixture.

It’s important to understand that most pontoon boat builders are located inland and actually have limited experience with the saltwater world. As the sales and popularity of this genre of boat continue to grow, it’s important to know that not all are created equal, and that some builders may still lack the knowledge and experience to build a truly “saltwater ready" version.

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