What is the right Boat lift for Me? – Part 1

Purchasing a new boat lift is a very confusing time  You have a lot to consider before making your decision. This article will help you make your lift selection easier.

Where will you be using the boat lift?

One factor in your lift selection process is its suitability for the body of water you will be using it on.  Will you be on a large bay or lake where waves can be strong? Will it be a river or small lake with minimal wave action?

In NE Wisconsin, Green Bay and Lake Winnebago present unique problems for boaters. These two bodies of water have significant fluctuations in water depth and wave action. Wave action of 3 or more feet added to increasing water depth during a surge will cause significant problems for boaters.

When these two factors combine, you will want a lift that raises high enough to keep your investment from being damaged.

Consider Frame Construction

You need durable frame construction to withstand the boat weight and pressures from the moving water. 

image of a ShoreMaster Vertical Lift

ShoreMaster Vertical Boat Lift with welded side frames

Are the side frames all welded construction?  Are the side frames simply bolted together?  Most brands use bolts everywhere, so shipping is less expensive.  This results in frame movement over time.  Movement results in elongated holes and a weaker frame structure.

What are the Boat Lift Frame Materials?

The most popular boat lifts in N.E. Wisconsin has aluminum frames and stainless steel cables.   

What is the Warranty of the frame material?

Boat lifts come with a 1 or 2-year factory structural warranty.  Some have a five year, and a few even have a 10-year warranty.  

ShoreMaster boat lifts carry a full 15-year structural warranty.  This 15-year warranty is the result of the all-welded side frames.  Bolts are only used to assemble the side frames to the cross members.

Most brands use bolts everywhere, so shipping is less expensive, but this results in frame movement over time.  Movement results in elongated holes and a weaker frame structure.

Your boat deserves the extra protection and strength of a ShoreMaster boat lift.

What type of cable do they use?

Boat lifts today have either galvanized, stainless steel or a combination of both.  Stainless steel cables last as much as 2 – 4X longer than galvanized cable.  Stainless steel cable is not as strong as galvanized but the manufacturers increase the cable and winch diameters to compensate.

There are limits to the diameter of the cabling used.  The winch drum diameter limits the cable diameter.  A thick cable wrapping around a small drum flexes the cable unnaturally resulting in premature cable failure.

Boat length, width, and weight?

Consider not only the length, width, and weight of the boat you have now but also the possibility of a larger boat in the future.  This may not be the deciding factor in your boat lift decision, but don’t ignore it altogether.  It can be the difference between:

  • Buying a new boat OR
  • Buying a new boat AND a new boat lift.

Manual or Electric operation

Do you want to raise your boat by using the hand wheel or use a motor to do all the work for you?  Nature powers most lift motors through a D.C. motor and battery setup. 

ShoreMaster Boat Lift with a DC Motor

A.C. versions, while available, require 120 V power at the boat site and need more care to prevent electrical shock.

Resale values

While cantilever boat lifts generally cost less than vertical lifts initially, consider the resale value if you decide to get a larger boat which requires a new lift. Cantilever lifts typically have less resale value because they can be used in fewer applications. Vertical lifts allow you to function in shallower water and raise your boat higher.  For this reason, they hold their value more than a cantilever boat lift.

See Part 2 for additional information

Where can you find the solution to any boatlift situation?

At Pier & Waterfront Solutions, of course!

PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 42/57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles South of Sturgeon Bay. Look for the Idlewild Road intersection. 

Our staff is ready to assist year round.

Call If you want to see an issue discussed on our site.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email Jerry@wisconsinpws.com with any questions.