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 boat lifts are: bottom standing boat lifts (best for shallow depths), floating boat lifts (best for deep water) and suspended boat lifts (best for large ships). Boat lift systems are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. The type of boat 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 boat lift, also called a freestanding boat lift, is installed adjacent to a dock and is supported by its own legs. Freestanding boat lifts come in a variety of styles including vertical boat lifts, cantilever boat lifts, and hydraulic boat lifts. These types of boat lifts are raised and lowered manually or powered with a motor or hydraulics. Freestanding boat lifts are a good choice when the bottom is firm and even, and the water depth is moderate. Freestanding boat lifts are also ideal in cold climates where the lift must be removed during winter and reinstalled during the spring. Typically constructed of marine-grade aluminum, these boat lifts are easier to maneuver than permanent lifts.
A floating boat 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 boat lift requires electric power and periodic cleaning as the chambers are always in the water. A floating boat lift is a great option for fluctuating water levels and deep water.
A suspended boat lift attaches directly to a fixed dock or to pilings which are strong enough to withstand tides and large waves. Boat house, pile mount and hydraulic suspended boat lifts are durable, more permanent options. These types of boat lifts 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. These are key points to ensure the boat lift can 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 an excellent choice if you favor ease, convenience and speed.
In addition to the area, you should also consider environmental factors where the lift will be installed. Boat lifts installed in salt water are typically made of durable corrosion-resistant materials like aluminum and stainless steel. Other things to consider are whether 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. Boat lift canopies keep your boat clean and protected from the sun and rain. 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 and adhere to certain rules before you install a boat lift.
A boat stored on a boat lift provides protection from staining, dings and scratches and makes launching easy. Reach out to us today if you have questions about how to choose the right lift for your vessel.