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Many boaters out there stick to freshwater. They’ve grown up on lakes and rivers, and that’s just where they always tend to go in their Malibu. But that leaves out a whole lot of fun to be had in saltwater. Boating in saltwater delivers an entirely new experience with unique destinations that are just waiting to be experienced. And with a little extra knowledge, using a towboat in saltwater is easily accessible—especially with the innovations Malibu has built into its engines.

Your Engine

Where most inboard boat engines use raw water to cool the majority of the components, Malibu’s Monsoon engines were specifically designed to have a closed-cooling circuit that uses Glycol rather than raw water to cool. This means that most of the engine’s components aren’t being exposed to harsh saltwater, which is corrosive and can damage the engine over time. That being said, it’s still standard practice to flush your engine as soon as possible after boating in saltwater. This step should not be skipped.

Saltwater Package

If your boat is equipped with the saltwater package, you’re already equipped with stainless-steel components and sacrificial anodes that will make your boat more corrosion-resistant. However, it’s still a good idea to flush the engine and hose down the entire boat with fresh water at every opportunity. Many marinas have freshwater washdown hoses specifically for this task. Be sure to run some fresh water through your ballast tanks to flush out the pumps as well. 

The Differences

There are too many differences between freshwater and saltwater boating to name here, but we will go over a few.


Tides change twice daily, meaning there are two low tides and two high tides every 24 hours and 50 minutes. This can impact your boating due to the changes of depth depending on your location. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on the depth in your Malibu Command Center and keep a close watch on a navigation app to make sure you have plenty of depth. Keep your eyes open for cresting waves and pronounced color changes as well, as these can indicate shallow spots.


Many saltwater or brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh water) waterways have channels that boaters can follow to ensure they are in deep water. They are marked on chart plotters, and it’s important to stay between the green and red markers. Sometimes the channel exists because areas around it are too shallow to boat, so check the depth before going outside of channel markers.


Just like some lakes and rivers, obstructions like rocks or oyster beds are marked on chart plotters. Be wary, though, that not all obstructions are marked so be on the lookout for cresting waves in otherwise rolling seas because they can indicate a depth change. Familiarize yourself with common marine markers before going out.


Conditions can change rapidly, and just like larger lakes, things can quickly get out of hand. Watch the weather and always use caution when a storm is on the horizon. It’s best to not go or cut things short than get stuck in a storm. 

Don’t let this information intimidate you. It’s meant to inform you so your first experience with saltwater is positive. After all, watching a dolphin play in your surf wave surrounded by gin-clear water and blue skies is a magical experience. When you’re ready for a saltwater adventure, build your custom Malibu complete with the saltwater package in our boat builder  or visit your local dealer for tips on how to care for your Malibu after a drop in saltwater. 

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