How long does it take a boat to dry out in the winter?

How long does it take a boat to dry out in the winter?

The cooler air brought in by the recent cold front reminds us that fall is here. Leaving your boat in the water during winter months is not recommended and with declining lake levels due to extreme drought, getting your boat trailered is important. 

Some boaters are still enjoying the open water, while others may be preparing to store their vessel for the winter. Removing your boat from the water, whether it’s storing it on a hoist at your dock or getting it on a trailer, storing requires some preparation.

If you’re storing your boat outside in your yard, a boat cover is a must to prevent damage from winter conditions. Other boat storage options like boat storage units or indoor storage are available and range in price and availability.
According to Trailer Valet, it is essential to take care of your boat once you have finished using it in the summer so that you’re not treated to a rude surprise of expensive repairs in the spring. 

Where to Start

Winter boat storage starts with draining your boat. Remove water from the bilge, water tanks and any place water may gather, especially the engine. Water freezing in engines could cause serious damage. Raising the bow will help to accelerate the draining process. 

Cleaning is the next step. Scrub the entire boat, hull to interior, with soap and water. Open all storage bins and clean them as well. Once the boat is dry and cleaned, apply a coat of wax and polish it evenly. 

To winterize the engine, flush the engine with fresh water to remove dirt, debris and corrosion. Have the oil changed and fill the gas tank. 

Removing and storing the battery in a warm, dry place is also essential. Make sure it’s completely charged or add a trickle charger to keep it in shape while stored. 

Wherever you choose to store your boat, be sure to remove lifejackets, fire extinguishers and any sporting equipment (skis, fishing supplies, etc.) to prevent mildew deposits. 

Boat Storage

Winter Use

If you plan to continue using your boat during winter, it’s still essential to clean, drain and dry to prevent the spread of Zebra Mussels. In the winter, it takes longer for the boat to completely dry out than in the summer, so the time between lakes needs to be extended.

During mid-summer, at temperatures above 80F, a boat may take only 5 days to dry after decontamination, but dry times need to be extended when temperatures start to cool down. At 40F or cooler, a 30-day dry time is recommended.


Whether you store your boat during winter or use it all year long, clean, drain and dry should be a common practice.