Clean, Drain and Dry Part 2

How to Clean, Drain and Dry your boat (all watercraft)

  •    Start with a clean, organized boat and minimize any obstacle that will prevent you from achieving your goal.
  • Once you trailer your boat, pull into a safe spot to continue with the clean, drain and dry program.
  • If the opportunity is available, start by pulling the drain plug on the sloped ramp. This will help you get the most water out of the bilge quickly.
  • If your boat is equipped with a live well, I suggest you pull the drain plug before you load the boat.
  • Once you have found your safe parking spot, lower the engine leg until the skag touches ground or the engine leg is vertical. Let the water from the leg and engine block drain completely.
  • While the leg is draining, go back into the boat. Check your livewell(s) to ensure the bulk of the water has drained. Now, take a towel and start to dry your boat properly. Water sits in corners when boats are not level and the drains are slightly elevated, thus trapping water.
  • I always twist dry my towels and when finished, lay them in the live well to absorb any possible water I have missed. Little tin boats are notorious for taking on water. The policy around clean, drain and dry applies to the floor area of the boat as well.
  • Inboard engines pose another problem. These engines, unless they have a self – contained cooling system like your car, hold water in the engine block and exhaust system. These boats are designed to drain these areas by opening strategically mounted petcocks. Boat owners need to know where these petcocks are located and get used to draining these areas just like a mechanic does for winterization.
  • Wake boats with in hull ballast chambers pose yet another problem. These ballast chambers cannot be physically viewed for compliance to the clean, drain and dry policy. My advice for owners of this type of watercraft is to carry enough disinfectant to pump into the ballast chamber to destroy and ensure they do not transfer invasive aquatic creatures.
  • All watercraft owners should take all wet gear, ropes and clothing        out and air dry before reloading.
  • As you make your final check of the boat, take time to bend down and inspect your boat trailer. Any debris clinging from the tow vehicle, trailer frame, axles, or springs should be removed and placed in the garbage receptacles at the launch or parking lot.

Remember it is the law that we travel with the boat plug out. This can be non-negotiable when inspected by the DNR or boat inspection stations and result in substantial fines.


We have inherited a lot of invasive species. This animal and plant life will in time wreak havoc on our waterways, marshes and wetlands. No one can definitively determine what these outbreaks will do to our economy and lifestyle in the future but we know the results will be truly damaging.

In the case of aquatic invasive species like Quagga and Zebra mussels, we are talking about slowing down the process of their migration. We are talking about microscopic eggs and larvae that will travel and remain alive in miniscule amounts of water. We are talking about water sterilization and loss of habitat for our native species of fish and wildlife.

The only way we will continue to enjoy pristine beaches and natural lakes is to prevent these creatures from inhabiting them. Mankind brought these transplants to us and only mankind can reduce the negative effects by diligently following the rules and practices around Clean, Drain and Dry.

Take a moment to research invasive species online and prepare yourself and teach others to respect and control invasive species.