Should you cover your boat when it rains?

Last Updated on October 1, 2022

Boats are important investments, so yes, they should be protected from the elements. Just as you would not leave your convertible top car open in the rain, you should always make sure that your boat is covered when it rains. Leaving your boat in the rain can damage several functions of the vessel.

Certainly, the boat spends a great deal of time in the water, or it may be marked as water-resistant, don’t be tempted to think the rain cannot affect it. The materials the boat is made with can withstand certain amounts of water from divers or splashes from the lake or river. However, with the rain, there is an increased volume of water stomping everywhere.

Does rain damage boats?

While it sounds ironic that something made to be in water can be damaged by water, if left unprotected, rain, snow, and sleet can damage your vessel. In boats left under the rain, it is not uncommon to find that their interiors get worn or damaged very quickly. Some damages rain could cause to the interiors of your boat are:

Damage to interior aesthetics

One reason you chose that particular boat is how cool it looks; the vinyl, the leather chair, the paint, and all. They all matter. When water gets in contact with the gel coats, or the resins, it could spark a reaction that leads to the formation of blisters and the ultimate breaking of the paints.

Persistent rain and sun penetration can cause the vinyl of your boat to fade out losing its pretty color and appearance. Also if you have some parts that are metallic or exposed, continuous rain might also initiate the rusting. In the end, your boat is not as pretty as it used to be and its value is sliding much faster.

Rotting of some parts

Think of it, the interior of your boat is made of several materials such as fiberglass which is padded with wood and foam. If water gets into these fittings, the wood floor, or seat bottoms it encourages the growth of mildew and initiates a rotting process. This is especially worse if you have a completely wooden boat.

We all know that once a part rots, it loses fitting and that makes your boat less stable. The saddest part of this is that rotting is not easily noticed till it has gone very far and maybe well beyond remedy.

Damage to the engine

For most boats, the engine is located in the hull. Although this region is quite below, leaving your boat out in the rain would cause water to collect in the boat. This can seep into the hull and eventually get into the engine, affect the cables, the gauges, and hinges.

Just as water can cause damages to any electronic and motor engine, the engine of the boat is not immune to water damages. You would find that certain controls become stiffer, some gauges no longer working and some wires get corroded. Although these might be repairable at a very high cost, they could have been avoided.

Extended cleanup time

Leaving your boat uncovered during the rain creates an extra clean-up task for you. After the rain, you would have to scoop out the water from the boat and thoroughly get out the water. Cleaning up is not an easy task and can take a lot of time especially if you need to go out quickly.

Types of boat covers

There are different types of boat covers you can use depending on your boat and preference. You should consider the size of your boat when getting a boat cover so that there are no spaces for the rain to get in. If you are keeping it covered for long, you might consider getting one with vents so the boat is ventilated.

Also, consider ensuring the material is waterproof so that water does not drip into the boat through it. you could spray


Polyethylene tarps are the easiest and the most common type of boat cover. By nature, it is waterproof making it a good choice when considering a material to cover your boat. The polyethylene trap however needs to be strapped down to prevent it from being blown away by the wind during rain.

There are several ways to secure the trap depending on your boat type. For most boats, you would create a support frame inside the boat on which you tighten the trap after spreading it over the boat.

Fabric covers

Fabric covers are also more common and are a more durable type of boat cover. You could also choose to go with boat wraps made of fabric if you want something more breathable for your boat.

When it comes to fabric covers, the options are limitless. The baseline remains that whatever fabric you are choosing should repel water, UV rays from the sun and be breathable enough to prevent the growth of mildew.

It is also advisable to get a material with high tensile strength so it is not badly affected by a storm if you are leaving your boat outside.

Custom Covers

Custom covers are made with your specific boat in mind so you do not have to worry about the sizing. If you are seeking to create a sleek outlook for your boat, the custom cover might be what you need. They are made of different materials and are hung as a tight snug on the boat protecting the hull.

The shrinkwrap

The shrink wrap can be used as a temporary covering for the boat. However, it’s a one-time use so you might have to get a replacement once you remove it from the boat. It is also important that the boat is dry before covering with the shrink wrap so there is no moisture buildup.


You should not leave your boat under the rain uncovered. Although your boat spends a lot of time in the water, exposing it to rain allows water to get to places it ought not to. Always ensure your boat is free from moisture to retain the beautiful interior and its other features.  Have more questions?  Ask the Boating Buddy team!