Is It Bad To Leave A Jet Ski In The Water? How Long Is Too Long?


Jet skis are manufactured to ride on water, and you may believe that these two are best friends. You may not think twice before leaving it in the water after a day or even an hour or two of riding. This thinking is not good; leaving your jet ski in the water when finished with it is a bad idea.

It is bad to leave your jet ski in the water for too long. Saltwater is especially bad for any metal part that can suffer from corrosion. This can occur In freshwater too, but at a slower rate. Aquatic growth will start to show up on the mechanical parts and hull falling below the waterline after only a few days.

When you’re out riding and drifting, friction from the water’s motion will help keep the ski free of corrosion and marine growth. But those issues aren’t the only problem with storing your ski in the water. Weather, corrosion, marine life and security are all concerns.

Docking a jet ski takes time and caution. Here we have Sea-Doos tied to a houseboat

Why Is It A Bad Idea To Leave Your Jet Ski In The Water?

The best way to describe water’s nature is that it results in slow degradation and gradual harmful effects not always easy to see at first. When you decide to leave your jet ski parked in the water, overnight or for a couple of days, nasty things start to happen.

1) Seawater consists of salt and minerals:

  • This combination makes it highly corrosive. We all know that water and metal do not mix well. 
  • Leaving your jet ski in saltwater for an extended period will allow the corrosive salt to damage the electronics.
  • Saltwater storage will also corrode the exposed drive and steering hardware.

2) Seawater and freshwater has algae in it as well as plants and animals:

  • Water has algae in it as well as plants and animals. These ingredients can team up and damage your jet ski.
  • Imagine having to clean mussels and barnacles from the bottom of your jet ski or, even worse, your jet ski’s pump. It won’t happen if you store your ski in the dry after use; however, it will occur when you leave your jet ski in the water.
  • All sorts of scum and gunk will build upon your craft as it easier to attach to stationary submerged materials.
  • When you are enjoying your jet ski in freshwater, river rodents may also damage the vinyl materials on your seat or your jet ski cover material.

3) Excess water in the hull:

  •  Finding a small amount of water in your hull is perfectly normal, and regularly lifting the seat to check this level is wise.
  • If you find that the water level is more than 2 inches, your jet ski is more at risk of sinking.
  • Leaving your craft in the water can lead to more water taken on, which could turn your jet ski into sunken treasure.
  • If this happens, check out my post on How to get Water out of the Hull of PWC’s.

4) Weather elements:

  • Weather happens. Not much more to say really. Leaving your jet ski in the water could expose it to storms, winds, hail and lightning. Heavy rains and wind can bang your ski against the dock or whatever it is tied to.
  • Sun damage happens quickly. Leaving your jet ski in the sun for days or weeks is not such a great idea. The sun’s UV rays will slowly start to damage the fiberglass and give your vinyl a faded look. Be sure to use a cover when storing on a lift or jet dock for this reason as well.

5) Vandalism and theft:

  • You love your jet ski. It cost you a fair amount, but it was worth every penny. So why would you leave it in the water for other people to steal it from you?
  • If you just use a pair of dock lines to secure your jet ski to a dock, you are making it easy for thieves to take your craft.
  • When securing the jet ski with a cable lock, you ensure that the jet ski will probably not be stolen. Be sure to remove valuables like cell phones and licenses from the storage compartment.
  • Be sure to read my post on How to Protect Your PWC From Theft for tips.

These are but some of the reasons you should not leave your jet ski in the water after having fun with it. A damaged jet ski or indeed a stolen jet ski is not fun at all.

How Long Is Too Long When Leaving Your Jet Ski In The Water?

When working through your user manual, you will find most state the following in some form or the other:

  • Leaving your jet ski in the water is not recommended.
  • Remove the jet ski from the water when finished for the day.
  • Rinse the hull and drive components after each use with clean water.

Out of experience, it is not always possible to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations, so how long is too long?

How Long Is Too Long When Leaving Your Jet Ski In Sea Water?

When it comes to leaving your jet ski in seawater, which is the most dangerous water for your jet ski, the consensus is not more than two days. You will be unpleasantly surprised how quickly corrosive seawater starts damaging your jet ski.

A vital tip to remember is to always flush your jet ski’s engine with clean water after every day that it has been in the ocean. Using corrosion preventative like T9, Fluid Film or Salt-Away on all metal parts is a good counter measure to the damaging seawater. Using these products will clean your engine and leave a coating inside the motor to protect it. All 3 manufacturers sell their own branded coatings for protecting the hull, vinyl and mechanical parts.

How Long Is Too Long When Leaving Your Jet Ski In Fresh Water?

When you decide to leave your jet ski in freshwater, you have a little more time on your side. Freshwater will take longer to start the corroding process due to the water not having salt or as many minerals. 

It will corrode and damage your jet ski; nonetheless, it will just take a bit longer. Do not be overconfident when it comes to freshwater. There are algae and all sorts of scum and gunk in it that will attack your jet ski.

When we take our one-week houseboat rental trips, we keep the skis in the water locked to the boats for the full 7 days. There’s usually not much clean up after a week in the water. But we do run them every day, which helps scrub off any loose buildup that occurs while docked.

Some owners have left their jet skis in freshwater for more than two weeks, and they started seeing some minor damage. The consensus is not more than a week. My jet dock sunk after developing a crack, and the rear of my Sea Doo RXT spent about 2 weeks submerged.

The ski lost 5 mph of top end speed due to friction from the buildup. It took hours of scrubbing to remove the growth from the intake grate, rear bucket, drive and exhaust components.

Photo of marine growth on jet ski intake grate
Marine growth on my Sea Doo hull and intake after 2 weeks accidental submersion at the dock.

What Are Some Of The Best Ways To Keep Your Jet Ski Out Of The Water?

After reading this article, you will hopefully try to keep your jet ski out of the water when finished for the day. It is the bare minimum of what your jet ski deserves after giving you so much enjoyment. The most accessible and most user-friendly option being the following:

 Floating Jet Ski Dock:

  • A simple and convenient method of entering and exiting your jet ski.
  • No hoisting, cranking or winching required.
  • Protects craft from nature’s elements and thieves via jet ski cover and a locking cable.

Here are some other options that you can also use:

  • Put it on the jet ski’s trailer
  • Electric lift
  • Drive uplift
  • Dry dock it at the marina
Floating docks with Sea Doos and Jet Ski
Our skis spend 6 months outside per year covered on floating docks

In Conclusion

So, there you have it. Leaving your jet ski in the water is not a good idea. If you have no other option, then remember that it is not advisable to leave your jet ski in salt water for more than two days. In freshwater, try not to leave it for more than a week. 

Your jet ski’s manufacturer recommends that you take it out of the water daily, perform a thorough cleaning by flushing fresh water through the whole system. Hose your complete jet ski off to be on the safe side.

If you do end up with corrosion, growth, or scratches and dings, read my guide on How to Make your Jet Ski Look Brand New.

Corrosion and rust are natural enemies of your jet ski, and you will personally meet them if you leave your craft in the water for too long. So, be proactive and make sure to keep your jet ski clean and out of the water when not in use.

References:

Can You Keep a Jet Ski in the Water? (accudock.com)

Saltwater Vs. Freshwater Outboard Motors (goneoutdoors.com)]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding, with wakeboards and kitesurfing the next challenges for my adult kids. Click the photo for a lot more.

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