One of the disadvantages of an electric boatlift can be that the height at which it is raised blocks your view of the water and beyond. There is also the lost convenience of just stepping or climbing aboard your boat when it is kept in the water.
But considering how often recreational boat owners use their craft the lowering of the boatlift into the water is a small effort, while the peace of mind of having it out of the water the rest of the time is worth the trade-off.
A boatlift gets your boat off the water and eliminates the problem of chafing wear to dock lines and fairleads. It also prevents constant bumping into a dock from wind, waves and boat wake.
By not leaving your precious boat in the water, a boatlift allows you to forego anti-fouling – an expensive and recurring job.
Also putting your boat up on a lift minimizes damage from leaks in sea cocks or through-hull fittings, bilge pump failure, pier or dock impact, and ensures the security of your boat, sailboat or jetski from bad weather, high wind, and theft.
Boatlifts come in all sizes and capacities to fit most recreational boats. There are several styles of boatlifts to choose from. The most popular is the 4-piling, 2 lift motors configuration with a cradle and bunks that the boat rests on. These lifts use AC motors geared low to rotate 2 shafts which wind on cables attached to cross beams so that the boat bunks rise and fall vertically between the pilings. Some have manual turn wheels in case of power failure.
Another method is to use an inclined beam on which a cantilevered cradle slides and elevates the boat at an angle up and toward the dock or seawall. This design makes outer pilings unnecessary.
Other possibilities to get your boat out of the water include hydraulic lifts, davits, and pneumatic pontoons. Some craft can be easily slid onto floating docks or floating pontoons. This is the most common way to store jetskis or personal water craft on what are often referred to as jetdocks. Water-level access in and out of the jetdock is easy without the need for electric-powered motors and mechanical parts. The jetdock is secured on a vertical pipe piling and floats up and down with the tide.
Alternatively, jetski lifts or davits avoid having a watertight pontoon secured in the water.
Some considerations when contemplating a boatlift or jetdock installation are the tidal range, approach, height and distance from your dock, seawall or shore; availability of power for motors; and impact on your view.
When planning a new boatlift installation, check with local codes on what is allowed to be built, the location, setbacks and size restrictions applicable, and the effect it may have on your own and neighbors’ views. With most waterfront locations, the boatlift must not intrude into the property’s side setbacks, nor extend out into the water more than 25 feet or 25% of a canal’s width. Some configurations require special treatment such that code variances are required. Access to waterfront is controlled by State, County, and Municipal laws but access to navigable water depth is not guaranteed.
Local dock builders and boatlift suppliers can install pilings, cradle, and motors to suit your needs. They can determine the weight capacity needed and customize the cradle bunks to fit.
Keep in mind that you may also get a great deal on used boatlifts for sale: many owners are changing the size of their boats, which may necessitate a different boatlift, or are no longer using the boatlift they already have. Either way, a used boatlift in good condition can be obtained at a bargain price. With the right weight capacity, boatlifts can be adjusted for different hull shapes and widths.