A boat lift is a device designed to secure a boat above the water which protects it from damage, corrosion and marine growth and makes it a breeze to launch. The three most common types of lifts are: bottom standing (best for shallow depths), floating (best for deep water) and suspended (best for large ships). Boat lift systems are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations and the type of lift you need is determined by the size and kind of vessel and where it’ll be kept.
Types of Boat Lifts
A bottom-standing (also called freestanding) lift is installed adjacent to a dock and is supported by its own legs. You can choose: vertical or cantilever, and it can be raised and lowered manually or by an electric motor. It’s a good choice when the bottom is firm and even and when water depth is shallow between 3 and 10 feet. In cold climates the lift will need to be removed during winter and reinstalled during the spring, so you’ll need a place to store it.
A floating lift supports a boat on metal or plastic chambers filled with air. The chambers are flooded and sink below the surface to release the boat and stay submerged while the boat is in use. When you return, an electric pump displaces the water, the chambers float and the boat is lifted. This type of lift requires electric power and periodic cleaning as the chambers are always in the water. It’s a great option for fluctuating water levels and deep water.
A suspended lift is attached directly to a fixed dock or to pilings which are large wooden beams that sink into the ground around stationary piers making them strong enough to withstand tides. Boat house, pile mount and hydraulic suspended lifts are durable, more permanent options that usually require electric power to function, are designed for heavy use and require little maintenance.
Other Boat Lift Considerations
When you’re deciding between the different types of boat lifts, the first step is to take a look at your boat’s overall weight and widest dimensions to ensure the lift will be able to accommodate your vessel. Manual lifts are a more affordable option and suitable for smaller, lighter watercraft. A powered lift, such as a hydraulic lift, is the way to go if you want ease, convenience and speed.
In addition to the area, you also need to consider environmental factors where the lift will be installed. Boat lifts installed in salt water should be made of durable corrosion-resistant materials like aluminum and stainless steel. You’ll need to determine if the bottom is firm and even, the water depth and any fluctuations in water levels and if you’re in a climate where the water can freeze.
If your vessel will be exposed to heat and sunshine, you may want to opt for a boat lift with a roof or canopy which will help keep your boat clean and protected from sun fading. You should also be aware of any local regulations or home-owner policies concerning boat lifts. If you share community docks with other homeowners you will likely need to secure permission before installing a boat lift and may need to adhere to certain rules.
A boat stored on a lift provides protection from staining, dings and scratches and makes launching easy. If you have questions about how to choose the right lift for your vessel contact us today.