How to Pick Out a Boat Lift

How to Pick Out a Boat Lift and Buying a Boat Lift

Purchasing a new boat lift isn’t just about investing to protect your boat from wake and weather. When you own the perfect lift, you are investing in more time spent enjoying the lake than dealing with lines, bumpers, ill-fitting covers, and broken snaps. At St Croix Dock, our team will help you select the right lift with your boat, lake, and budget in mind. Buying a boat lift can be fun!

Pontoon/Boat Lift

Pontoon/Boat Lift

What Information Do I Need When Buying a Boat Lift?


Picking out the right lift starts with understanding the specifications for your boat. When you meet with our team, we will ask you a few key questions to narrow down the options. Here’s what we want to know:

  • What type of boat do you have? Do you have a pontoon, a tri-toon, a fishing boat, a deck boat, or a wake or ski boat?
  • How much does your boat weigh? What are your boat’s wet and dry weights?
  • How long is your boat including the motor (if outboard) or swim platform? Or what is your boat’s LOA (length overall)?
  • How wide is your boat?


In addition to learning more about your boat, we will also ask questions about your property. We will ask:

  • How deep is the water where you want to place your boat lift? Is it 3′ deep at the shore-end of the lift? Does it get deep quickly?
  • Do you have AC power down by your dock?
  • How do you plan on getting the lift in and out each season?
  • Is the waterfront terrain steep or rocky?
  • Do you have room on shore to store your lift in the off-season?


What Capacity Do I Need?


Once we have gained an understanding of your boat and property, we can begin to build your lift; it starts with the frame. Many frame model numbers correlate to the overall capacity of the lift. Two examples are the Floe VSD 5000 or the Hewitt Hi-Lifter 4600 -respectively, 5000 or 4600 pounds. For the sake of safety and efficient operations, we recommend a margin of 20% for the max weight of the lift. That means that for a 5000 pound lift, the maximum recommended weight on the lift (boat, motor, fuel, people, and gear) should not exceed 4000 pounds. For the 4600 pound lift, that would equate to 3680 pounds.


One other thing to think about when making your selection is if the boat that you are purchasing the lift for is your “forever boat.” If you plan on purchasing a boat in the next 5 years, make concessions to the lift capacity if you may end up with a heavier boat.


How Long of a Canopy Do I Need?

When selecting the length of your canopy, you want to know the length of your boat from bow to stern along. Keep in mind any additional length added from your motor or a swim deck. If your boat measures 21 feet but your motor adds another 3 feet, you could go with a 24 foot canopy. You could even go a bit longer at 26 feet if you want to have everything sit tucked underneath with some extra room up front and back. 


What Other Boat Lift Accessories Should I Get?


Your boat lift will not be complete without a proper set of bunks. At St Croix Dock, our sales team will make recommendations based on your watercraft type. Pontoons can be supported with pontoon bunks, cradle pads, full length bunks or a combination of both; runabouts or v-hulls typically use full-length bunks. 


There are also several different styles of guide-ins or guide-ons, motor stops, and bow stops to make sure you are perfectly positioned each time you use your lift. We also carry a variety of other accessories such as:

  • Wheels kits for installation and removal
  • Solar panels and LED lights
  • Tilting canopies and canopy extensions
  • Wireless remotes
  • Boat lift steps



What’s the Next Step in Purchasing a Boat Lift?


Give us a call or stop in to see us so that we may provide you with a formal estimate. Buying a boat lift is a big decision and our expert team will help you make the right choice for you and your family. This is another year to not delay as it looks like the recreation industry will be pressed with another year of high-demand. Our installation schedule is filling up quickly. 


Don’t Forget…St Croix Dock is a full-service dock and lift company. We can provide you with seasonal installation and removal services and boat lift inspections and annual maintenance service. No matter your dock or lift needs, we are here to help.  See some of out lift options here