Boating - - MOTORHEAD -


Hoist­ing boats ex­tends their life and of­ten their re­sale price, and means you can forgo anti-foul­ing paint. How­ever, if you plan to cruise with your boat for ex­tended days or weeks, ma­rine growth can take hold of an un­painted boat bot­tom in that pe­riod of time, and re­quire ex­pen­sive haul­ing and acid wash­ing to re­store its sea­wor­thy ef­fi­ciency. Bot­tom paint will dry out on a hoist, seal­ing in the ab­la­tive bio­cide. Sand­ing it to re­ac­ti­vate the bio­cide is a dirty job that re­quires pro­tec­tive gear, and sand­ing ac­cel­er­ates the paint’s ab­la­tion, fur­ther re­duc­ing its use­ful life.

In fresh wa­ter, al­gae can grow on the boat in a few days. With swim gog­gles and a brush, you can usu­ally get it off with lit­tle ef­fort. Al­low it to grow for more than a cou­ple of weeks and it cal­ci­fies, re­quir­ing a pres­sure washer and chem­i­cals to re­move it. In some parts of the Florida Keys, I’ve known peo­ple to leave their boats in for a few weeks with­out sig­nif­i­cant ma­rine growth. How­ever, in a brack­ish area like Punta Gorda, just three sum­mer days will sprout seed bar­na­cles that re­quire an acidic hull cleaner and a brush to re­move.

The bot­tom line is, how­ever you store your boat, be con­sis­tent with the process for the good of your bot­tom. For long-term cruis­ing, hoist­ing your boat may not be the best plan.


Lifts on pil­ings or sus­pended from dock beams are used in the coastal waters and shal­low lakes of Florida and the up­per Mid­west be­cause they get the boat low enough to launch with­out bot­tom­ing out, and they leave noth­ing in salt wa­ter to cor­rode. When we se­lected our post lift, we chose a 10,000-pound ca­pac­ity, even though our boat was only about 6,000 pounds. The in­cre­men­tal cost was low, and it gave us the flex­i­bil­ity to up­grade boats at about 50 cents per ad­di­tional pound—it was a good buy in our eyes. Like you, we’re al­ways think­ing about an­other boat.


Use two I-beams an­chored at the sea­wall and slant­ing out­ward away from the wall as rails for the cra­dle that rolls up and down the beams. The de­sign saves space in nar­row creeks or canals that won’t per­mit a four-pil­ing lift. How­ever, be­cause the I-beams re­main in the wa­ter, cor­ro­sion be­comes a prob­lem in only a few short years, and I-beams may have to be re­placed fre­quently. Only use them where you must.


Float­ing hoists built on bal­last tanks are used on most im­pound­ments with fluc­tu­at­ing lake lev­els. Bal­last tanks are filled to launch or purged to hoist us­ing an elec­tric air pump on the dock. They are fas­tened to the float­ing dock, mak­ing a se­cure moor­ing, and keep your boat safe from wake dam­age and ma­rine growth.

Poly Lift makes, ac­cord­ing to its spokesman, the only hoist guar­an­teed to re­main se­cure if left low­ered in the wa­ter, sub­ject­ing the dock and hoist to more im­pact from wakes. Most condo docks re­quire hoists to be raised empty im­me­di­ately upon launch to avoid that dam­age. For that rea­son, an op­tion you should con­sider is the Cap­tain’s Call, a re­mote de­vice to au­to­mat­i­cally lower or raise the lift when you de­part or re­turn.


These docks kill two birds with one stone, and there are a va­ri­ety of brands avail­able for this de­sign. All in­volve con­nect­ing hol­low poly­eth­yl­ene blocks to make a plat­form 6 to 12 inches above the wa­ter. A V-notch meets the stem and cra­dles the keel, al­low­ing the boat to be pow­ered onto the float­ing plat­form. Be­cause they float, some zon­ing au­thor­i­ties con­sider them tem­po­rary, mak­ing them a nice do-it-your­self project that is of­ten per­mit-free.

On the down­side, they will grow oys­ters and bar­na­cles, and can be­come ratty-look­ing, with growth creep­ing up the sides. For that rea­son, they aren’t likely to make good swim­ming plat­forms in salt wa­ter, but are easy to main­tain and brush clean in fresh wa­ter. We’ve seen the mo­d­ules dam­aged by hot land­ings too, but re­pairs are a sim­ple mat­ter of re­plac­ing a block.

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