Does It Hurt My Boat To Be Uncovered In The Rain

Rain in the background and an uncovered boat with an outboard uses swimdeck space

It always blows me away when I see a boat sitting out in the rain without a cover. Would these people leave the convertible top down on their car in the rain?


Not only will the rain damage a boat’s interior, but leaving it without a cover exposes it to the sun’s harmful rays. Boat covers are designed to help protect from falling sticks, animals, snow, and many other potential dangers. A boat left without a cover while not in use, will lose value very rapidly.


Even when you have a cover that’s in poor condition, it’s better than no cover at all, until you can get a new cover. You can always use tarps until you get a real boat cover, but never choose to go without one.



How A Boat Cover Protects Your Boat


A marina with many boats at dock and all of them have covers on.Keeping a boat covered at all times that the boat isn’t in use, will literally save your boat’s condition, maintenance schedule, and value. Taking a boat cover on and off may seem inconvenient at times, but since you bought a nice boat, wouldn’t you want to keep it that way.


I’ll bet you had to shop around a bit to find the best boat for your money. By not keeping a cover on it, you are destroying exactly what you had searched for, which is a well maintained boat in great condition.




The elements of mother nature can be absolutely Brutal on your boat’s interior. Only thinking about the boat being rained in, creates enough damage to wipe out your boat’s value.

Your boat’s interior is NOT deemed “waterproof”. It is “water resistant”.


Your boat’s interior is designed to resist the amount of water being brought into the boat under normal use. When swimmers, waterskies, wakeboarders, tubers, and such are getting back into the boat, they bring some water with them.


However, in comparison to a rain storm dumping water into your boat over an extended period of time with no opportunity to dry out, when your boating it’s usually an nice day and the comparatively small amount of water brought into your boat dries out very quickly.


The damage from moisture comes from everything in your boat’s interior staying wet over hours, days, weeks, or more of staying wet. If the moisture can’t dissipate and dry out quickly, it penetrates whatever it’s on.


When your talking about your boat vinyl, seat foam, carpet, wood floor, stringers (floor joist structure) and seat bottoms, all these structures can and eventually will absorb that rain. You will sustain wood rot, mold, and mildew. Even though you may not be able to see what is happening initially, your interior is being destroyed within.


A boat's floor with no carpet and exposing the rotted wood floor.Even though it’s possible to repair this damage with lots of money and labor, why not just avoid it by keeping your boat covered and dry? If let go too long to the point of rotting the boat’s floor structure, it just may not be worth fixing. You might be better off buying a different boat and treat the new boat better.


All that moisture can and will seep into your gauges, wiring, cables, and hinges. You’ll find your throttle, shift, and steering cables getting very stiff, as well as your hinges on doors, seats and cabinets. You’ll also see your wire connections corrode and your gauges may stop working all together.

Laziness Never Pays





For much the same reason you use sunscreen to protect your skin, your boat’s vinyl needs protecting too. The sun can burn your vinyl and dry it out. It can also fade the color. The thread that has the pieces all attached, can be affected as well.


Any plastic, rubber, and carpet are also going to feel the effects of long term exposure to the sun. However when the boat stays covered during non-use and the vinyl, rubber and plastic are treated with protectant, these items can last the life of the boat.



Debris And Animals


Looking into a bowrider boat from the front looking back, showing rot, mold, and mildew from not being covered for an extended period of time.Falling debris, like sticks, leaves, and other items blowing in the wind can end up in your boat. Sticks can puncture your vinyl or break gauges and such. All the debris that ends up in your boat can create other problems as well.


For instance, having leaves build up will hold moisture and not allow your interior to dry out. This will promote rot, mold and mildew. A nice pile of leaves also makes for a great home for an animal. The good thing is they probably won’t poop and pee in their nest.


The bad thing is, they’re going to find another place in your boat, and do their business there. Another issue is, that they’re going to love that pile of leaves as a nest for having babies. That’s another set of claws and teeth for every one in the litter, perfect for destroying your boat’s interior.



What Should You Do


Keep the cover on your boat when its not in use! For such a minor inconvenience, why wouldn’t someone do this to keep their boat in great condition?


Buying a boat that’s in nice condition, is a fairly significant investment. That along with the ongoing costs of maintaining it, hauling it, storing it, and keeping it legal, it just doesn’t make sense to not keep a cover on it.


As important as it is to clean and protect your boat vinyl, it’s equally important to clean and protect the cover that is over it.



How To Care For Your Boat Cover


If you see any damage to your boat cover, that’s the time to repair it. Keeping it in good condition will certainly make it last longer and maintain it’s effectiveness.


Your cover should also fit properly and maintain a pitch that allows rain and debris to slide off. If you are towing with the cover on the boat and it’s loose and floppy, the cover is going to literally beat itself to death.


A red boat cover folded up on a shelf in a garage.Be sure that any sharp items that make contact with the cover are protected with some padding to avoid creating holes. Also, whenever you remove the cover it’s best to fold it up, and be careful where you put it so it doesn’t get damaged.


Too often people take the cover off and throw it onto the dock or ground without considering what can happen to it. You need to take care of the thing that protects your boat.


Your cover needs to be cleaned and treated with waterproofing spray every couple years to help it last longer. The cover isn’t going to last forever, but you can definitely improve it’s longevity with proper maintenance.


Spending a couple hundred bucks to replace your boat cover every 7 years or so is a LOT cheaper than spending many thousands of dollars replacing your boat’s interior. So use your cover whenever the boat isn’t in use and maintain your boat cover properly also.



What Makes A Good Replacement Boat Cover


Runabout boats

My choice pick replacement boat cover has to consider several factors, and then weight certain factors as more important. One of the main factors is the weight of the material and it’s quality. The whole point of a boat cover is to keep the elements out.


The fabric has to be strong to protect against rips. If a hole develops, you’ve lost your weather protection, so we want something strong to stop that from happening. Trailering can really put a lot of stress on a cover, especially if it’s not held firmly in position. Rear facing vents really help create a vacuum to suck the cover firmly to the boat.


A RVMasking waterproof, 1200 denier fabric, trailerable, boat cover on display with a white background.

The RVMasking waterproof, 1200 denier fabric, trailerable, boat cover for V-Hull runabouts. This boat cover is available on Amazon for the best price and has a couple sizing choices for your boat. Awesome points about this boat cover are:

  • Fantastic price for this level of quality! (This is twice as thick as a standard cover and super durable.)
  • Rear facing vents for interior breathability and holding the cover tight while trailering
  • Double stitched seams with waterproof reinforcement seam strips
  • Made of high-strength 1200D fabric with waterproof PU coating and anti-UV coating
  • 3 corners at the bow and stern are double reinforced with 600D polyester fabric, providing extra protection against sharp corner
  • Storage bag that doubles as an outboard motor cover
  • Strap loops design suitable for mooring
  • Elasticized hem for a custom fit
  • 3 color choices


For this low price, you just can’t match the material and construction quality!



This happens to be the same company as our Bimini pick. For this low price, you just can’t match the material and construction quality!


Pontoon Boats / Deck Boats

A pontoon boat on a trailer sitting in a parking lot with a new cover on it.For all of us with pontoon boats, the Vortex Ultra 5 Year Canvas Pontoon/Deck Boat Cover is going to be the best replacement pontoon boat cover choice. If you have a more squared off style of deck boat, this will also be your best replacement boat cover choice.


Don’t get fooled by cheaper covers. Those have a short life expectancy and that’s if you don’t rip them. My boat cover choice for pontoon and deck boats is far superior because:

  • It is a heavy duty 600 denier marine canvas
  • UV protected, and mildew protected
  • Used for storage, mooring, and also trailering
  • Includes straps and elastic bands for holding it down
  • Phone support 1-800-309-5190 (You actually talk to a person)
  • 5 year warranty


FYI, the cover I’m linking to is for a deck size of 22′ to 24′ on Amazon, but if your boat requires a different size, just click on the seller’s name “Vortex” in the Amazon page and you can choose the correct size for your needs.


This should help you understand what you’re looking for in a replacement cover for your boat. Once a cover has reached a certain point, it’s better to just replace it. I have a cover that requires me to buy 3 gallons (it hasn’t been treated with waterproofing since new, so it is going to absorb more waterproofer this first time) of waterproofing for about $110. It is older and needs a good cleaning also.


If I replace the cover for $150 or so, I would have a brand new cover that is clean and waterproof, without any of my labor. So you just have to judge what the best decision is for your particular situation.


No matter what you decide, just be sure you’re putting the cover on your boat whenever it’s not in use. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and aggravation.


I bought my first boat while in high school 1981. I had more hours working on it than using it in the water. I can't count how many boats I've had since, but I really enjoy reviving boats. I've had so many boats that I could never use them all. Once I fix a boat up, I play with it a couple times and sell it. My goal is to use my many years of experience, and help as many people Begin Boating.

Recent Posts