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Do you need a boat lift?


mmskiboat
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We are looking at floating boat lifts due to the water level changes on our lake. I have some pricing now and will probably go this route next season. But at the same time I was wondering is a lift required and could it actually cause issues over the long haul.

 

We are located in Canada so our season is about 6 months give or take, the rest of the time the boat will be out of the water in storage. I would think that a boat can handle being in fresh water of a deep lake without a lift when it is pulled each year and cleaned. I even was thinking that it is better for the boat it be supported in water to reduce pressure points from bunks.

 

Lets assume you have a secure way to tie the boat up to prevent damage from the dock (wake watches in my case) and have created a safe harbour of sorts with a slip what advantage is a lift giving you? Is boarding the boat going to cause stress points on the bunks if it is lifted. If it was a floating lift would the movement of the docks/lift not cause more stress on due to the bunks?

 

I do find it odd that a boat (made for water) is recommend to be out of the water. I get it from a damage point of view or if for salt water or water that is really not clean. Or if you could keep the boat in the water year round.

 

Has anyone who has got a lift ever had damage from it? Anyone think that they should have not bothered with one?

 

 

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I’ve done both. After several years in the water I developed gelcoat blisters on my nautique and Boston whaler. Believe it or not if you read the fine print from most boat manufacturers they recommend bottom paint for boats left in the water-even if it’s fresh water. I don’t think my experience happens all the time, but probably more often than you think. I think I remember reading somewhere this effect is related to water temp and water chemistry, so you may be in a safer location in CAN. So... for my current boat I bought a lift and I love it. No water stains to clean with toxic acid, no dings from bouncing off the dock, no gelcoat blisters.
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Thanks for the replies. I did read in the manual at the back to use a lift. In our past two boats we have not had issues and I do not think there is a boat on our lake on a lift, some are on marine railway to protect the boat and most of these are old bow riders. There is some scum formed but nothing that bad.

 

We are not allowed structures so I do not think I will be able to have a permeant cover over the boat. I'm looking at a water line cover to protect from sun damage.

 

I'm still leaning towards a lift so probably will get one start of next season once I build a new dock with a slip.

 

 

 

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+ 1 on gel coat blisters. Its a hit or miss. It's nothing to do with the manufacture but gel coat is pours. We used special marine epoxy and bottom paint on hulls of boats we were leaving in water. And that will not be good on resale on boats like ours.
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If you have the ability to put it on a lift why wouldn’t you? I see boats on my lake that float all the time and the bottoms are disgusting, they start to develop a greenish brown stain that Cannot be removed easily. I know someone who used to do an acid wash at the end of the season.

 

Some lakes have different water chemistry than others, so it can be worse depending where you are, not really a “clean” water issue as I’ve seen boats get nasty in crystal clear water.

 

Hoists for ski boats aren’t that expensive compared to a boat, I don’t understand why anyone would not have one.

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Huh. I’ve kept boats in the water May through October my whole life (okay, my dad was in charge for some of those years) in the acid-rain -infused waters of Lake Placid, NY and I’ve never had a problem. We have maybe 300 or more boats on my lake and I can’t think of one with a lift for summer use.

Lpskier

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We have boats moored in the water at my lake for the last 40+ years. We are in from April until October. I have had some boats wind up with blisters in the gel coat but nothing that impacted the performance of any of the boats. A lift would be a plus but for years they weren’t allowed and now it doesn’t make sense for me to make the investment. If I got a new boat I would buy a lift.
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The main reason that I'm worried about a lift is that because I would need a floating lift. I'm concerned that the movement from waves and pressure on the bunks could cause damage that would not happen when the boat is just floating.

 

Most of the places that offer storage for the winter include a chemical wash to clean the boat.

 

I do not think there is one boat on a lift in our lake, some have marine railways but that is more for protection and storage, they are typically old boats and the railway setup is old.

 

I'm still leaning towards a HydroHoist and building a slip for it as this is going to be a long term commitment. I'm hoping to find a way to build a wave attenuator setup for the part of the dock facing the lake to try and mitigate any wave movement.

 

 

 

 

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I used to always just anchor. Then I discovered whips. Stern out. When the neighbor came back with a surfer in tow and slowed and turned, the pushed wake washed over the back of my boat into the inside.

One boat lift later I couldn't be happier.

No more wave action wearing through chains (another neighbor very nicely pulled the boat back out to the anchor from shore after a chain link wore through). No more having to go out and get it and put it back. No more worrying about the boat getting swamped. No more bathtub ring.

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@dvskier in your setup did you have wind that would cause waves? We are in a bay and can get some good waves breaking on the dock. Enough to get white caps. I still think that I can build a breaker wall of sort but the HydroHoist will get some rolling movement for sure.

 

@96SNEFI If I could have a lift into the ground I would not be worried. It is the floating nature of the lift and movement that bothers me.

 

To give you an idea of the drop here are pics of the start of the season and end (end pics is missing the last dock as we are pulling them to the end of the bay (I'm on it). We do not get much boat traffic just waves from the left side looking out to the lake. Last pic is the updated dock I will be building.

 

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Wind driven waves will have a somewhat constant period/frequency and I would think the floating lift/boat combination to be so heavy it would smooth out the bouncing to some extent. Also, I understand your worry about the bunks but I would guess boats riding on trailers can face similar bumps. Granted boats aren’t riding on trailers for anywhere near as long, but if it was going to be a problem I think we’d hear more stories of trailer boat damage. No charge for my completely uninformed and potentially dangerous opinion.... ?
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@mmskiboat We get some pretty stiff winds at times, maybe 40-50 mph, that’s a rare occasion as I’m in a cove. Never had an issue with the lift as I have a 10’ x 24’ slip in a heavy aluminum dock with a roof. Dock is secured with a couple of 5/8” stranded stainless steel cables. The lift is rated at 4800 pounds and that is very conservative, it rarely moves when hit by waves.

I highly recommend Hydro Hoist as I’ve never had a problem with them.

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@mmskiboat my most regular ski buddy has a hydrohoist in protected bay. Pretty constant 3-4’ depth. Mud bottom. We drive 4 posts into the bottom to position the lift and hold up hit canopy. 6” metal rings on lift slide up and down the posts as lift goes up/down. 2 of these locating posts are secured to a pretty solid dock.

 

Looks like you’ve got a really rocky shore/bottom. And your whole setup floats - If any amount of wind I think it would be difficult to keep a hydrohoist where you want it. Is your whole floating setup attached to the deck on shore about 4’ above water in the end of season pic?

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@Clydesdale I had the same thought about trailering but again the amount of time is what I was worried about. I was also worried that the ski boat trailer has additional bunks in the front that most lifts do not have so was not sure if just two bunks would be an issue. Over on MC TT a guy mentioned that he heard a lot of gel coat guys had to fix damage from boats on a lift from movement. I'm going to ask around at a few shops to see if this is the case out not. I do agree that I should be able to help manage the waves. I also think it would be much more of a common complaint.

 

@dvskier thanks for the information. I have only heard good things about HH and FloatLift but the HH setup is cheaper and looks a little cleaner. We are not allowed structures so I do not think I will be able to cover the boat with a solid top. Looking at waterline covers to protect from sun damage.

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@skibrain yes the whole dock system is floating. It is attached to the land dock with the pencil but I have cement anchors that prevent prevent movement. I just have to adjust the chains as the water drops.

 

I will be building a new end dock that will be a floating slip to replace the existing one. This will be 34' long and have 22' long slip for the boat. I'm going to be building a wider end section of the slip that faces the water to help break the waves and direct the energy along the dock and not thru it. I will also be adding many more cement anchors to prevent movement. I currently have 2,280 lbs of anchors.

 

I will be adding some spring/elasticity to the cement anchors chains. With the current setup the dock and move and hit the end of the chain. This did not matter with the wake watches as they would have some slack. Since the HH will be part of the dock system I want to eliminate any of the jolt.

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How deep is the water where the boat goes? Can you do a freestanding lift? This would take away your concerns.

 

Also, are you planning to have the dock / hoist turned sideways to main dock?

 

I would think you would want the back of boat pointed out vs side of boat pointed out, to better absorb the incoming waves vs the whole thing “rolling” over them sideways.

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I'm have reached out to see if I can do a vertical lift that would take away the concerns, most that I see do not support this amount of the difference in water level. In the spring the water is 15+ feet

 

I have seen some floatation bags that mounts under your lift so it is easy to move around as required but I think that would be a pain to deal with and hard to make sure it is level, etc.

 

Boat Direction:

Looking at the lake the waves come from the left so I wanted to point to the boat that direction rather that with the existing dock. We are in a bay of sorts and the wind and waves come more across our dock that at it. Very little boat traffic so not many hit the front of the dock. The direction of the wind is between 15 to the hour and 10 to the hour on a clock.

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If you have a U shaped dock look at the hewitt floating lifts. Much more stable, fewer moving parts and much cheaper. Most people around me are switching from the hydro hoist to the hewitt. Where I am gets a ton of wave action and we have never had an issue in 6 years.
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I wouldn't worry about the pressure points from the lift as long as you have the supports properly adjusted. No different than sitting on a trailer for 6+ months.

 

I understand lots of people store boats in the water, but there is no way I would keep my boat in the water without a lift. Heck, I get uneasy when we go on vacation and it is in the water for 6 days. Waves, wind, other boaters, lake scum, convenience all reasons to have a lift.

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Yes!!! I totally recommend getting a hydraulic one, no more broken cables, faster up/down, bring motor and battery in case inside in winter. Buy at a boat show and get big discount is the way to go, I paid $7600, which was same price as a new Shorestation and lower than other models, and $4000 discount from in season.
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@WIRiverRat I had not heard about Hewitt will check them out. At first look it looks more like the E-series from HH. I would think that it would be the same stability as a HH based on looking at it.

 

@BrennanKMN The difference is it will be a floating lift so will get a lot of movement that a trailer would not have it in storage.

 

Thank all for the comments.

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Look at the boat port units from Hewitt. Different design than the e series from hh. It connects to the dock in the front only and is a cantilever. The hh has 4 connection points and seem to put a lot of weight on the sides of the dock making it slant. I think I paid $5k installed 6 years ago for the 6000lb lift.
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FYI bottom of Prostar is shaped funny. There is a lifting strake / lip a few ft from the back, likely about where the main support of the bunks will be.

Given your concern, Most important will be how you place the bunks. There are a few threads on here about it. I think the best way (most work) is to notch the bunks for the lip on the bottom.

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Your trailer has movement going down the highway too - probably worse than a floating lift. Again, if the bunks are properly adjusted it will be just fine. The stringers are essentially the frame of the boat.

 

If floating boat lifts truly damaged boats they wouldn't be still selling.

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@WIRiverRat HH does have a front mount option but recommend the u shape when possible. I have reached out to get pricing from, Hewitt. Why would someone switch from HH, I get buying new used from Hewitt but switching seems odd.

 

@skimtb 100% this for me the most important thing and I noticed that the bunks on the trailer had 2 sets and were angled and most lifts only had one set and did not look like they would fit well. Thanks for the note will track down the threads. I was thinking I would use the trailer as a template of sorts.

 

@BrennanKMN I agree that trailering is harder. But the boat will be on the lift way more that on the trailer. I also agree that if they did cause damage they would have either been updated to fix that design error or would have been discontinued. But I also see a lot of these units in protected slips and in place they will not get much wind/storm waves.

 

Just want to start the life of the boat right and not get into a routine for years that is causing minor damage over the years.

 

 

 

 

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@Cnewbert the 100% best way to do it is to make a drawing of your trailer bunks from a reference point and set the lift up the same way or as close to as possible (assuming you have a well fitted factory trailer)

 

A way to do this is to pick a point on the boat like say the pylon and stick some tape on the fender of the trailer. Then you launch and float the boat. from your tape make a quick sketch showing the width of the bunks and place something like a straight edge across multiple bunks in order to mark relative heights of the bunks. With that sketch you then float the boat onto the lift transfer the pylon mark and repeat the process adjusting the bunks until they match the trailer as close as you can replicate.

 

However - many trailers have 2 bunks not multiple like trailers so sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

 

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@Cnewbert I asked MC for trailer bunks specs when I was looking at an older PS that did not have a trailer. I thought easy ask MC and then have a trailer made for it. They would not release the specs to me. I think this is the same case with lifts. I think it would all come down to the tech that is setting up you lift, if they are very good and know what they are doing and have done it often no problems. But if they just think the boat just has to go up and out of the water you could have problems.

 

@BraceMaker Thanks for the information. I 100% want to get the bunks right as the boat will be spending more time on the lift than anywhere else during the season.

 

I did find it odd that lifts do not have an option to match the ski boat trailer setup, sure it would have to be an option and could cost more just seems odd to me.

 

 

 

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I pull my boat up on a marine railway with only 2 bunks, 2x10 on their sides. they are positioned to allow the boat to rest without interfering with the longitudinal strakes. I raise and lower it 5-7 times per week. Basically everyday, and a few times through the weekend. Been doing it for over 10 years. No damage at all. I agree that the bunks should be adjusted to fit hull, but you may be overthinking this a bit. I purchased from rjmachine. they're located near you and do custom work if required.
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I too use a Marine Railway and it works great. > leave the boat in the water each weekend and pull it out every Sunday night. I give the boat a quick wipe and ensure no scum lines ever appear. Being in Canada (like you) I pull out one section of the railway (between the water and land section) to ensure that the ice doesn't wreck things. Works great. Though I am sure a lift would also be terrific. I think it's always better to keep the hull out of the water if you can. Good luck with your project.
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You're making this all way more complicated than it really needs to be. Think of how many lifts are in use, probably 10% of those are setup really well. The others just get a boat parked on it and call it good. How many times have you heard of someone complaining about damage to their boat from a lift? Fiberglass is tough stuff.
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Thanks guys and I agree I tend to overthink things a lot, part of how my brain is wired.

 

@tru-jack I would love to have a marine railway setup and it would solve a bunch of my concerns (valid or not). I did reach out to rjmachine to get some pricing before your post.

 

@BrennanKMN On another thread a reply talked about how he had talked with a gel-coat repair guy he had seen a lot of boats with damage from lifts. Maybe he was wrong but it was enough to make me want to ask around to get a better sense if it does happen.

 

 

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How much does your level fluctuate? Is it daily or over the course of the summer? Properly set up a standing lift can be easily moved with boat lift helper, (air bag system). also aids in moving to shore to remove at end of season, provided the fluctuation is over time, not tidal.

 

My lift goes in in May and out when kids leave for school in Sept. I have had Harbormaster canativer lift, Nyman water lift, vertical Shoremaster, and now a Floe. I like the ease of leveling the flow. The quietness of the screw jack 24v dc motor and with a canopy my boat stays dry and uncovered all season without the sun beating on the interior.

 

Having had countless lifts and boats on them over the years I have never had any hull damage issues. My bunk placement mimics the trailer spacing.

 

I have a beach/boat ramp on my property. With a crank up pontoon trailer, seasonal launching and removing are a one man operation.

 

I've only seen Hydro Hoist used in a marina setting where water was calm so I can't offer any help there.

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@harddock The water drops about 6-7 feet over the season. This is why I love the internet and forums. I have been searching and never heard about a Floe boat lift. The easy level system looks like a game changer. Thanks for sharing.

 

Here is a video that was sent to me to show how well a HH can deal with rough water. It is from 9 years ago. I was like "I would be building a bigger dock..."

 

 

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@harddock Thanks for the information. I had started down this path to start and found the BLH but then thought that moving a system would be a huge pita mid season as I would have to make it be level. I then would have to remove each year etc, starts to become a lot of work to manage the lift. A HH setup can be done once and always have the same parking spot etc. I have reached out to few vertical lifts and they say they will not work well with our setup, could just be a typical response. I will give this path some thought as it would be better as I would not need to build a new dock slip.

 

I do have to say that the Floe systems both lifts and docks seem top notch and very well thought out.

 

Shoremaster and HH have just done a merger this past summer.

https://www.shoremaster.com/about-shoremaster/news-events/articles/shoremaster-and-hydrohoist-announce-merger/

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Do you need a lift? How much do you like your boat? Of course you do!

I would not recommend Hewitt, expensive for what you get, weak and rickity, poor welds and quality control, sub par warranty, I had to spend extra to get it to do what I needed and could have bought something much better in the end.

That video above looks crazy sketchy!

What kind of lift is that used by the BOS Mastercraft?

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@LOTW Thanks for the feedback. Yes the video looks crazy made me nervous just looking at it.

 

I have a HydroHoist setup priced out but now also looking at a Floe setup that I would move and at Tornado boat lift as it has a 6.5' lift capacity (http://www.goldenboatlifts.com/tornado-boat-lifts/)

 

The Floe stuff just looks so well thought out and the VSD seems like a great idea and love that it does not make much noise. Tornado lifts seem well built.

 

I think that I will wait till the Jan local boat show as I will be able to look all the options in person.

 

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