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Do you plan to build or install a boat lift for a waterfront home or marina? Many boat owners ask whether a boat lift sling vs cradle lift is the best choice in this context. However, the solution depends on a combination of factors, including your installation location and the shape of your boat. Before it is possible to determine whether boat lift slings vs cradles are better for your application, it is important to understand how these two boat lift accessories differ.
What are boat lift slings? Also called hoist slings, these straps wrap around your boat to offer support and distribute the boat’s weight while it is lifted. Boat lift slings are often used in the commercial shipping industry, but also have residential applications when installed within a boathouse lift.
However, it is incredibly important to be careful when choosing the fabric used for your boat lift slings. The best hoist slings are made from polyester – as opposed to nylon – due to the material’s low stretch value. A polyester boat sling more effectively maintains its working load limit when wet.
Another consideration when purchasing boat lift slings for sale would be to consider the thickness of the manufacturing material. For small personal watercraft like kayaks or jet skis, a 2-ply sling is likely sufficient. For larger vessels, 4-ply thickness offers heavy duty use and greater durability.
The Problems with Boat Slings
Poorly sized or ill-fitting slings can exert too much pressure on your boat’s hull and sides, which can result in expensive damage. This often occurs when boat lift slings are not properly paired and fitted to the specific type of boat lift installed at your home or marina.
Boat owners who experience problems with their boat slings also report the following concerns:
• Too much trouble positioning the straps
• Straps wearing through quickly
• Chafing the hull at contact points
• Hard to get close to the boat to wash it down
• Difficulty closing the windshield window due to straps closing up
• Lose of valuable boathouse space to large suspended slings
• Limited ability to customize slings or prevent damage over time
Did you know that water depth also affects whether boat lift slings vs cradle lifts can be used for your boat lift? Boaters who live on canals or in areas with frequent inclement weather activity should avoid using slings. If your boat is resting within slings when a heavy storm hits, your boat might swing and knock into your dock, incurring pricy damage. Even worse, boats kept in slings have been known to float away when the waters levels rise quickly. Yikes! Who wants to risk that?
As a result, boat slings can only be reliably used within shallow water settings. That makes them most commonly suited for use on shallow lakes. It’s why most boaters will tell you that cradles are the safest choice for boat storage.
The Advantages of Cradles
Cradles are overwhelmingly popular with boat lift owners – and for good reason. Much like the bunks on a trailer, the cradles on a boat lift help secure a boat into place. Because they are designed to deliver support and stability, the cradles can provide a much higher degree of security and protection for long term storage – and heavy summer storms – than boat lift slings.
Properly installed cradles distribute the weight of the boat evenly as it is lifted above the water. This prevents damage and strain to the hull. A variety of materials, from wood to fabric, can be used to further cushion your boat’s hull and protect it from harm. Here’s an example of a Legacy 32 hull supported by custom designed stanchions and pads. The stanchions that are more lateral have long, bleacher plank pads that are flexible and provide the best support to curved hulls.
Another advantage is the way that cradles can be customized to suit almost any setting – not just shallow water. With a few easy modifications, cradle lifts will accommodate watercraft of all sizes, shapes and materials.
Check Out These Custom Sailboat Cradles
IMM Quality Boat Lifts designed these custom cradles for one of our clients who wanted to store a sailboat at their waterfront home.
Our innovative in-house engineering team customized the marine-grade aluminum cradle beams to the specifications of their boat. The V-shaped dip in the cradle beams become more pronounced with sailboats that have larger keels and the length of the stanchion support tubes changes based on the shape of the sailboat hull. Installing custom bunks to carefully store the sailboat in place above the water, when it is not in use saves time and money on boat lift maintenance and bottom paint, too!
At IMM Quality Boat Lifts, we connect future boat owners and marine contractors with the best boat lift products in the industry. When it comes to boat lift accessories, such as boat lift cradles for building or installing a boathouse lift, IMM Quality offers a wide variety of marine-grade products for sale.
Our patented designs offer a variety of boat lift configurations for traditional four and eight piling vertical lifts, elevator, beamless, Trident three pile, deck lift, jet ski, kayak lift and, of course, boat house lifts. Beyond the sheer versatility of our product lines, IMM Quality Boat Lifts has the ability to customize any lift to any individual’s dock and watercraft.
If you are a residential customer considering a boat lift for your home, we would love to hear from you! We help all of our customers connect with an IMM Quality dealer located near you. Working with a qualified, professional marine contractor ensures the best installation experience and a lifetime of use out of our carefully engineered products. As a family-run business, we understand how much that matters!
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