Just because your boat’s designed for the water doesn’t mean it wants to stay there 24/7. Stored in the wet stuff it’s assaulted by a host of environmental factors, from marine growth to the simple battering of the waves. Above the water, it’s safely out of reach, cozy and dry until the time comes for you to splash it again.
Out-of-water storage has economic benefits as well. There’s no need for bottom paint, no service calls from a guy with a scuba tank and a scraper, and fewer concerns about corrosion and eroded zincs. Most lifts and docking systems also eliminate the need for — dare we say it? — dock lines, at least at your home port. Their drive-in or drive-on style provides an easier target for that nervous captain who wants to avoid marring the neighbor’s gelcoat, and lifts can even save a few marriages by eliminating a “No! Your other right” conflagration while docking.
Traditional cable-driven lifts are a staple from coast to coast. A new generation of lifts, however, promises to combine innovation and cost-effectiveness, while still satisfying the goal of keeping your boat both high and dry. See if one suits your boating situation.
Wondering about that funny-looking pontoon boat that’s occupying your neighbor’s slip? It just might be a HydroHoist. A time-tested design with the drive-on appeal of a traditional lift, HydroHoist’s UltraLift-2 pumps a boat above the water by blowing air into custom-molded, high-impact polyethylene tanks that resemble, what else, pontoons.
Assembly is not a do-it-yourself proposition. A dealer will help you choose the proper lift for your application and assemble it at your slip. UltraLift-2 models can accommodate boats up to 50 feet in length and 32,000 pounds at floating docks with U-shaped slips, or vessels up to 26 feet in length and 6,600 pounds at floating docks, extrawide slips or L-shaped moorings. (Don’t fit the profile? HydroHoist’s Side-Tie “B” series is designed to lift up to 30,000 pounds at fixed or floating docks.)
When a boat is in water, getting it onto the lift is a simple matter of driving it into position atop the bunks. Electric blower motors then pump air into the seamless, impact-resistant tanks to lift both the boat and the hot-dip-galvanized frame supporting it completely out of the water. The entire process can take as little as three minutes. Tank fittings are airtight, and a 4-inch frame channel, a 3-inch adjustable expansion channel and heavy-duty quarter-inch torsion bars are used in the construction of the structural frame. Five-inch high-density polypropylene square-hole bushings, Grade 8 pivot hardware and structural grade dock brackets with molded bumper guards ensure a worry-free attachment dockside. Optional plank kits facilitate covering or hull maintenance when out of the water.
Max LOA: 50'
Max Weight: 32,000 lb.
Min. Depth: 4-7'
DIY Install: No
Key Features: High-impact polyethylene tanks, above-water steel supports
Dr. Dockwise says: Don’t lose power dockside, unless you have a generator that can handle the load. Air can be released to lower the boat into the water, but to raise it you need power. Minimum water depth also varies between four and seven feet, based on capacity.