Boat Lifts 101

Boat lifts are commonplace in leisure boating and are a convenient attribute to docking a boat with minimal hassle.  Unfortunately, there’s no standard when it comes to hefting boats out of the water along a dock, and lifts vary in age, size, and structure as much as watercraft do.  Professional boat lift service can be marginal at best on fresh water lakes, so maintaining and setting up a lift is often left up to the consumer.  The following are safety concerns and common sense tips for out-of-water docking.

*Boat lifts are not overhead hoists.  Most recreational boat lifts are not rated for overhead work.  Never perform maintenance underneath a boat on a lift.  While it may seem convenient to hammer off an inboard prop under a lift, it’s a major safety No No.  Lift cables can and do fail. Pull that boat out on a trailer and hammer away on the prop.  Also, don’t expect the local marina to put their mechanics in harms way; be courteous, and offer to trailer or tow the boat out.

*Starting batteries in boats should never be connected to circuits outside of the boat.  There is no insurance company on God’s green Earth that will pay for a burnt up boat that was connected to a boat lift motor.  There is also no engine manufacturer or boat builder that would condone powering a lift with an onboard battery.  Solar charged, deep cycle batteries mounted to a lift are the best option to power boat lifts and dock accessories.

*Be mindful of the boats position in relation to the lift motor.  The fuel fill and fuel vent should not be close to the lift motor or controls.  Lift motors might be covered but are not ignition protected and will ignite any fumes seeping out of a hot fuel tank.