Owning a boat means taking care of it so that the boat will last as long as possible and stay in good shape. While you can leave the boat tied up most of the year at the dock, your boat will stay in better shape and need less maintenance if you invest in a boat lift to keep it out of the water when it's not in use.
Here are a few tips for choosing a boat lift.
Consider the Size of the Slip
An obvious consideration is the size of the slip. You'll need to opt for a boat lift that isn't too wide or too narrow for the slip where you're storing the boat. It can be difficult to modify a boat lift to suit a slip of a different size.
Keep the Size of the Boat in Mind
Next, check to see which boat lifts are suitable for your boat's weight, length, and width. This will depend on its beam and width. When determining the dry weight of the boat, keep in mind the weight of the items inside the boat, such as the batteries, covers, fuel, props, and any gear that's typically kept on board.
Consider the Water Depth
Don't forget that if the water is shallow, your boat has towers or tops, or your boat has low roof clearance, you may need a float that is either shorter or broader for a boat lift to be suitable in your situation.
If the water is shallow, a special shallow water lift will make it easier to get the boat off the lift and back into the water. Shallow water lifts use tanks that are not as deep, allowing you to use them in waters that are almost a foot less deep than standard boat lifts.
Compare Sling and Cradle Lifts
With a cradle lift, the boat is supported by a cradle made of two I-beams connected by cables which are topped by boards that the boat itself will sit on. Sling lifts, on the other hand, consist of a polyester sling that rests directly on the bottom of the body of water. Because of this, sling style lifts may be more suitable for shallow water than those with a cradle design.
Keep the Water Conditions in Mind
Also, consider the typical water conditions in which the boat is kept. If the water is rougher or the boat is in the main channel, the boat lift will need to be more heavy-duty than if the lift will be located in calm water or in a cove. Lifts in use in calmer water can sometimes get away with shorter arms than those that are in rougher water.
Consider the Different Types of Flotation Tanks
Cylinder tanks are particularly beneficial for larger boats because they're more stable and keep the boat totally out of the water. However, square tanks can be less expensive and work well in calmer waters with smaller boats.
Polyurethane tanks may last longer than fiberglass tanks, which become brittle over time, or metal tanks, which eventually rust. These tanks also tend to be very impact-resistant, making them less susceptible to damage.
Keep the Shape of the Boat in Mind
Boats with V-shaped hulls require a different type of lifts than those with pontoons or multiple hulls. Because all parts of the boat need to be properly supported while out of the water, pontoon boats require boat lifts that have extra beds to support the pontoons as well as the deck of the boat. Sling-style lifts aren't recommended as they put added pressure on the pontoons and could damage them.
Consider Which Lift Material Is Best
Most lifts are made out of galvanized or stainless steel. While galvanized lifts tend to work fine in freshwater, stainless steel is more suitable in saltwater conditions. Either way, watch for corrosion, UV damage, and cracking, and deal with any of these issues right away. You'll want to opt for a frame that uses through-bolts rather than setscrews and that has cast-steel, galvanized pivot points.
Contact Edgewater Marine Construction, Inc., to find out more about the options for boat lifts.