How Long Can You Leave A Boat In The Water?

Boat ownership is a topic that has lots of nuances, tips, tricks, and rules. One issue that has many people scratching their heads is how long you can leave a boat in the water. I’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. 

Table of Contents

How Long Can You Leave A Boat In The Water?

How long can you leave a boat in the water? The amount of time you can leave your boat in the water depends on several factors, including the temperature of the water, the water’s current, and the water’s salinity. A general guideline many use is not to leave the boat on the water for more than 30 days. 

Keep reading to find out more about boat storage in addition to other important information you can use as a boat owner. You won’t want to miss this. 

Appropriate Length of Time to Store Your Boat In Water

As stated above, as a general guideline, your boat should be stored in the water no longer than 30 days straight. That is if you haven’t taken special precautions to protect your boat and prepare it for longer-term storage. 

Adding a coat of epoxy, wax, or some other bottom paint to your boat will enable you to store your boat on the water for much more than 30 days. Prevention is best. A protected boat can theoretically sit on the water all year long, or even longer than that, but this is usually not encouraged due to the damage and deterioration that can occur over time and lead to sinking. 

If your vessel is already damaged, you may need to sand the hull, refinish it, and apply a protective coating. At that point, it is ready to store for a longer time. Dry storage is always best. Water storage, especially in salt water, is the worst option for a boat that’s in bad condition. 

What’s important to do when storing your boat in the water for any length of time is to monitor the boat’s appearance periodically. If you notice any blistering, barnacles, or other issues, you will need to take immediate action to fix the issue. 

Storing Your Boat In The Water

There are two ways to store your boat on the water. You can store your boat in either freshwater or saltwater. Both boat storage options have their advantages and disadvantages.

Storing Your Boat In Freshwater

Storing your watercraft in freshwater is desirable for a few reasons. Freshwater has less minerals in it, meaning that it will not degrade or rust the exterior parts of the boat as quickly as saltwater would. Also, freshwater is usually cleaner than saltwater, meaning you won’t spend a ton of time cleaning your boat. 

When storing your boat in freshwater, there are concerns to keep in mind. The first potential issue to look out for is blistering. Blisters can form on the bottom of the boat due to absorbed water. Applying a coat of epoxy on the bottom of your boat in preparation for storage can help with blistering. 

The second issue to look out for is freezing. It’s normal for both freshwater and saltwater to experience swift and extreme changes in temperature. An unprotected boat in freezing elements can really take a beating. Not only can the outside of the boat be damaged by the low temperatures, but the inner electronic components of the boat can also be damaged. Take special care to protect the hull, the engine, and electronics to mitigate this risk. 

Storing Your Boat In Saltwater

When storing your boat in saltwater, there are two potential issues to look out for. The first issue is boat damage stemming from salt and other minerals in the water. These substances eat away at the structure of the boat for the duration of storage. They also shorten the lifespan of manifolds by 50% over the course of a few years. 

Marine life is a boat’s mortal enemy. These animals want to find a home on your boat’s hull, and this could cause unspeakable damage to your boat. 

Barnacles also become an issue when storing your boat in saltwater. They congregate and add weight to your boat. This translates to increased drag and fuel costs. 

To minimize these issues when storing your boat in saltwater, be sure to clean the bottom of your boat once every 90 days to keep mineral deposits and barnacles under control. 

When You Should Store Your Boat on Water vs. Land

If you are someone who regularly spends considerable time on the water, you may find that storing your boat on the water is more convenient than storing it on land. 

Conversely, if you don’t use your boat often, you may find that keeping your boat stored on land will be the best option. A boat stored on land will need less maintenance than a boat sitting out on the water. This is appealing for the majority of boat owners. However, the cost of storing a boat on land are arguably high, keeping many from using this mode of storage. If you are fortunate enough to have a garage, you can offset boat storage costs by storing it in your garage. 

It’s not necessary to choose any one way to store your boat. You can choose both. If you’d prefer, you can store your boat on land for 6 months out of the year, and for the remainder of the year, you can store it on the water. 

It makes sense to store your boat on the water during the spring and summer months since you are more likely to use the boat during those months. You can then store it on land during the fall and winter when you’re least likely to use your boat. 

Getting Your Boat Ready For Storage

boat storage

If you decide that you’ll be storing your boat away from you, whether on a paid dock or in your garage, there are several things that you can do to prepare your boat for storage. In this section, we will cover all of them. 

Clean Your Boat

The first thing that you should do is to clean your boat from top to bottom. Cleaning the inside of your boat is equally as important as cleaning the outside of it. Stains and dust can settle into the surface on the inside of your boat and damage those surfaces. 

It’s equally important to clean the outside of the boat for the same reasons that you should clean the inside. Don’t forget to throw out all items that might spoil.

Empty Gas Tank

There is some debate surrounding the issue of whether you should empty your boat’s gas tank prior to long term storage. Some argue that you should empty your tank while others tell you to have your tank almost completely full. If you are using a professional storage facility, be sure to ask them whether your tank should be full or empty. 

Check Appliances

Go through your boat and check your appliances. You’ll want all of the appliances to be turned off and unplugged. Appliances that haven’t been turned off can cause fires or malfunction (requiring repurchase). 

Cover It Up

Purchase a boat cover to protect your boat from elements that could cause damage, including the sun, wind, extreme temperatures, dust, debris, and more. 

Don’t Forget About Your Boat

No matter what method you use to store your boat, check on it periodically to make sure that no mold or mildew is growing on it. Any leftover moisture could accelerate the growth of these offenders. Better to catch it early and remedy it than to go get your boat during boating season and find out that there’s an issue.