Leaving Boat Uncovered – Rained On, OK?

Generally, leaving the boat uncovered for a night or two is no big deal and at worst case it will be a little dirty. It’s when you leave the boat uncovered for months that it becomes an issue and things start to fade, vinyl starts to crack and gunk start to build up that is hard to clean from your boat.

The electronics on your boat along with the seat are made to run in a wet environment and will be just fine if you accidentally leave your boat uncovered during a rainstorm.

What is not good to do is to keep your boat uncovered for extended periods of time. When you’re done with the boat for the day it’s best you put the cover on it as over time the sun and water will start to damage parts of your boat.

Boat Cover Is Not 100% Perfect

An interesting tidbit about boat covers is that they’re more for protecting your boat from the sun than rainwater.

While the cover will stop a lot of the rainwater from getting in, it will not stop all of it. Even worse, if it rains hard enough, the water can pool on the cover and slowly drip into and under the cover.

The best thing you can do to keep rainwater off your boat is to either put it under a roof or get a second cover.

For your main cover you want something that snaps on and off quickly, but for longer-term storage a trailer cover (ad) is ideal if you keep it on a trailer. You place the trailer cover over your boat that is already covered to give it even more protection from the rainwater and elements like snow or dust.

Will A Boat Sink Without The Cover On?

As talked about in the last section, a cover is more for protecting your boat from the sun, as rainwater can still find its way in.

The boat should not sink so long as you have an automatic bilge pump, and if the boat is kept on a trailer it’s best to take the drain plug for storage. If you keep your boat on land, I suggest keeping your drain plug with your boat keys in a bag like this here (ad), so you don’t forget to put the drain plug back in.

If you rely on your bilge pump, then I suggest keeping the battery on charge all the time or use a 5-watt or less solar charger. If your battery dies due to inactivity, then the bilge pump won’t work either, so you need to keep that battery in good shape.

How To Dry Out A Boat After A Rainstorm

If you left your boat out during a rainstorm, then it’s not a huge deal, but there are a few things you should do.

  1. If the boat is on a trailer, then crank up the jack all the way up and remove your drain plug (it should be removed already if kept on land)
  2. Open all the seats and compartments to let them dry out.
  3. You can leave the carpet in the boat, just don’t cover it, let it dry out. I do suggest looking under carpet as gunk may have formed and needs to be cleaned.
  4. Remove everything out of the boat like life jackets, tubes and so on so they and the boat can dry out.
  5. Clean any gunk that may have formed with boat cleaner.
  6. Use a shop vacuum to suck up the water that is sitting and gunk they may have shown up. If you don’t already have a shop vacuum that can suck up water, then I suggest getting a small shop vac like this one here (ad).

Bilge Pumps

Even if your boat’s battery switch is set to off, the boat’s bilge pump should be wired to come on. I say should because it’s that way from the factory, but you never know what someone has done with a used boat or if a fuse is blown.

It’s a good idea to test your boat’s automatic bilge pump every so often to make sure it still works. A broken bilge pump can lead to a boat sinking, so it’s well worth your time.

The best way to test a boat bilge pump is to bench-top test it as talked about below video.

Can A Boat Sink On Land?

Funny enough, a boat can sink on land.

If you leave the drain plugs in and the bilge pump doesn’t work, then your boat is just one big rain bucket that collects water. If the boat is an inboard boat, the engine inside of it, then it will hydrolock the engine and make things worse.

I’ve seen it a few times, but it seems to affect jet ski owners more, especially if they leave the seats off.

When storing your boat on land, it’s best to take the drain plug out and keep it near your boat keys, so you don’t forget about putting it in. If you store the boat on the water, then it’s best to get a boat lift to keep it out of the water.