Choosing the Right Boat Lift

A Guide to Capacity and Travel

You worked hard to buy the boat of your dreams. When you finally get the time to enjoy it, you don’t want to waste time getting it into the water. That is why so many waterfront owners choose to purchase boat lifts to store their vessel on site. Image the convenience of being in the water in minutes, while also keeping your boat safe and clean.

In order to achieve this, it’s important you choose the right boat lift to ensure the safety and longevity of your vessel. This guide will explore the key factors to consider when selecting a boat lift.


Understanding Capacity

Dry Weight vs. Operating Weight:

The first question you’ll need to answer when looking for a boat lift is, “What is the weight of your boat?” Your first thought will be to check your boats specifications, but there are many factors that contribute to your boats actual weight that are not listed in your boats specifications. The dry weight listed for boats often excludes outboard motors, fuel, fluids, gear, and accessories. You will need to consider the combined weight of these additional items when choosing lift capacity.

  • Adding a 20% buffer to the total weight provides a safe margin for unforeseen variations.
  • Overestimating capacity is wise if you plan to upgrade to a heavier boat in the future.


People and Cargo:

We know your time is limited and you want to spend as little time getting onto the water as possible. Storing your gear right on the boat is one of the biggest advantages of having your boat stored on site. You may not realize how much additional weight even the most typical items can add to your vessel. Now add a passenger or two. As you board your boat, you want to ensure easy access, especially for those who might not get around as easily anymore. To safely do this, you want to make sure you have taken these extra pounds into account.

  • As per manufactures, boat lifts are not meant to carry people while in operation. Be sure to load and unload passengers with minimal time spent on the lift.
  • As per manufactures, pontoon boats are not suitable as recreational decks while on the lift. With the proper increase in capacity, you could feel safer enjoying your boat even when it’s docked.
  • Overloading the lift can cause serious injuries, and damage to both the boat and the lift itself.


Understanding Travel

The travel of a boat lift refers to the distance from its lowest position to its highest position.  When the lift is in its highest position, you want to make sure the keel of your boat is high enough out of the water to avoid wave action. At its lowest position, you want to make sure you have enough water depth to freely float your boat off the lift.

Wave Action:

  • Areas with strong waves necessitate a lift that elevates your boat sufficiently.
  • Some lifts offer extended lifting ranges for optimal clearance in challenging conditions.
  • Specific brands allow you to move small watercrafts away from the water entirely.

Water Depth:

  • Knowing your water depth is crucial for selecting the appropriate lift type.
  • Every body of water has daily and seasonal fluctuations, make sure you know the highs and the lows of your particular body of water.
  • Shallow water may require a lift specifically designed for low water conditions.
  • The lift’s minimum depth requirement needs to accommodate the draft of your boat.


Popular Boat Lift Options

Everyone’s needs are unique to their slice of paradise and the equipment they use. That’s why we have partnered with the industries top boat lift manufactures, so that we can provide a boat lift solution that fits your needs.

Offers cable and hydraulic lifts with capacities ranging from 1,200 lb to 12,500 lb.

Cable lifts have a 5’6” lifting range and require 12″ of water depth plus the boat’s draft.

Hydraulic lifts offer up to 5’ of lifting range and require 18″ of water depth plus the boat’s draft.

Offers hydraulic lifts with capacities ranging from 2,000 lb to 30,000 lb.

Hydraulic lifts have a maximum 6’6” of lifting range, ideal for areas with strong waves.

Lifts can be adapted for extremely low water levels with their shallow water kit.

PWS offers Swinger lifts and Elevator lifts with capacities ranging from 1,500 lb to 16,000 lb.

Swinger lifts have a travel range of 8’6” and Elevator lifts have a customizable travel range.

Swinger lifts have the ability to rotate your craft 180° to move it away from the water completely.

Elevator lifts can operate at a 45° angle, making them ideal for overcoming obstacles.


Professional Assistance

PWS: Your Trusted Boat Lift Partner

Choosing the right boat lift can be complex, seeking professional assistance is recommended. PWS offers a comprehensive selection of ShoreMaster, SunStream and Davit Master boat lifts to meet your specific needs. Our experienced team can help you choose the right lift for your boat, water depth, and wave conditions.

Contact us today at (920) 493-4404 for a free consultation.



Additional Resources:

Best Hydraulic Boat Lift for Green Bay

What is the BEST hydraulic boat lift for Green Bay & Lake Michigan?

Want the BEST hydraulic boat lift for Green Bay waters? Look no further than the latest addition to Pier & Waterfront Solutions premier lines. PWS now features Sunstream SunLift™ hydraulic lifts.

Pier & Waterfront Solutions recently diversified the selection of hydraulic lifts. You now have a choice of hydraulic lifts with capacities up to 30,000 lbs. and lifting heights to 6′-6″. 

Watch this video for more information –

What does this mean for you?

Want the fastest, free-standing hydraulic lift with the greatest lifting height and smoothest operation? Check out Sunstream SunLift.™

                                               Sunstream SunLift Hydraulic boat lift

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the three most popular brands:


                                    Sunstream                ShoreMaster            Shorestation

Capacity –                2,000 – 30,000#           4,000–12,500#           2,000–15,000 #
Lifting Height –              36″- 78″                       36″– 60″                        70″

Min. Depth*  –                  12″                               12″                         14″-21″
Wireless Remote –           Y                                                                Y

Inside Width –                      > Boat width              108” – 132”                108” – 144”

Cables Used?                           NO                               NO                           YES 
*Plus the draft of the boat 

Ease of operation

Today you can use your boat as easily as you use your car. Get out on the water more often, and have more fun. 

Sunstream has wireless remote controls and optional motor-stop and guide-on systems. These features make operating and docking easy even for a new skipper. There are NO Cables Used.

Sunstream pioneered the hydraulic, free-standing boat lift revolution. They continue to advance the technology and is known for reliability, durability, and safe design. 

Sunstream SunLift™ has been proven with years of service in salt and freshwater environments. Sunstream has a wide range of accessories to optimizes the lift for your specific needs.

We’ll have more details in the coming weeks.

Where is Pier & Waterfront Solutions?

Pier & Waterfront Solutions, 7325 St. Hwy 57, is located 3 miles south of Sturgeon Bay. Go 1 mile PAST the intersection with County road MM (heading north). Look on the right at the next corner – Idlewild Road and Hwy 57.


Pier & Waterfront Solutions remains “open” year-round.

   Please use face masks

The Covid virus continues to spread and affects many people. Don’t be one of them.

PWS is conducting as much business as possible by email, text, or phone. 

Site visits continue as usual. When making in-person contacts, we follow “social distancing” guidelines when possible.

PWS display yard – OPEN 24-7

PWS‘s display area is always open for you to examine at your leisure. All displays available for sale have a numbered, red tag on them. Want more information on something you saw in our yard? Please reference that number when you inquire.     

           Red Tag


PWS will provide estimates by email to make the process faster, safer, and paperless. 

Call, message, or email us today with any questions.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 for more information or use this link. 

Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) serves the Door County Peninsula

Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) serves the Door County Peninsula

Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) serves the Door County Peninsula

Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) has become the respected name for Docks and Boatlifts in Door County. What do we offer?

  • On-time, install and removal services;

    image ofATF # 3 from Pier & Waterfron Solutions

    ATF # 3 from Pier & Waterfront Solutions

  • Year-round maintenance services; 
  • Marinas
  • Free insurance quotes.
  • Relocation services for waterfront equipment.
  • Replacement lift canopies for most brands

Additionally, Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) offers aluminum & steel welding repair services. 

How long has ShoreMaster been providing waterfront equipment?

ShoreMaster Waterfront Equipment & PWS

ShoreMaster has covered the waterfront with world-class equipment for over 40 years. Along with Pier & Waterfront Solutions, they make it easy for people to actually enjoy their waterfront experience.

Is it time for you to call us? We will work hard to earn your business.

ShoreMaster’s complete lineup of products include:

  • Residential & Commercial Docks;
  • Floating Docks;
  • Boat Lifts;
  • Jet Ski Lifts;
  • Swim Rafts:
  • PolyDock Products;
  • Canopies;
  • Cleats;
  • Dock lighting and more

Did we mention a full line of waterfront accessories too?  

What other product lines does PWS carry?

As a Full-Service Boat Lift Company PWS offers:

Davit-Master ( elevator, boat house & davit lifts;

Hi -Tide ( davit lifts; (see pages 8-11); and

Sunstream Hydraulic lifts (

image of Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) outdoor sign

Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) outdoor sign

Pier & Waterfront Solutions specializes in ShoreMaster residential and commercial:

  • docks;
  • boatlifts; and
  • accessories.

We service the other brands.


Where is PWS located?

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

Our staff is always ready to serve your needs.

Give us a call If you have a dock or boat lift topic you would like to see addressed here,

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email for more information.