Navigating the Storm: Preparing Your Boat Lift for Extreme Weather Conditions

storm boat lift

Boat lifts are invaluable for keeping your vessel safe and in prime condition, but when extreme weather strikes, your boat lift needs its own protection strategy. From hurricanes and tropical storms to severe winter conditions, preparing your boat lift for the worst can save you from costly damages and ensure its longevity. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps to fortify your boat lift against nature’s fury.

Understanding the Risks

Extreme weather can manifest as high winds, heavy rainfall, lightning, and even snow or ice, depending on your location. These elements can damage your boat lift in several ways, from electrical system failures to structural damage caused by flying debris or ice accumulation. Recognizing the potential hazards is the first step in crafting an effective protection plan.

Step 1: Regular Maintenance and Inspection

Pre-Storm Preparedness:

  • Inspect Regularly: Check cables, pulleys, and other mechanical parts for wear and tear. Replace any rusted or weakened components immediately.
  • Lubricate Moving Parts: Ensure that all moving parts are well-lubricated to prevent seizing up during a storm.
  • Secure Electrical Systems: Inspect the lift’s electrical system for any exposed or frayed wiring and ensure all connections are secure. Consider waterproof covers for additional protection.

Step 2: Implementing Physical Protections

Batten Down the Hatches:

  • Remove Your Boat: If possible, remove your boat from the lift and store it in a secure location. This reduces weight on the lift and eliminates the risk of your boat being damaged.
  • Secure the Lift: If your lift is not designed to be easily removed, secure it with additional anchoring or supports to prevent tipping or shifting.
  • Use Protective Covers: Invest in covers for the lift mechanism to shield it from rain, wind, and flying debris.
  • Elevate Electrical Components: Ensure that electrical components, including the motor, are elevated above potential flood levels.

Step 3: Strategic Planning for Different Weather Scenarios

Tailoring Your Approach:

  • For High Winds and Hurricanes: Focus on reducing wind resistance. Remove any canopies or attachments that can act as sails. If your lift includes a canopy, consider removing it if a severe storm is forecasted.
  • For Heavy Rain and Flooding: Elevate or waterproof all electrical components. Consider installing a sump pump near the lift area to manage excess water effectively.
  • For Snow and Ice: Regularly remove snow and ice accumulations from the lift. Consider a heating element for the control box and areas prone to freezing.

Step 4: After the Storm – Inspection and Maintenance

Post-Storm Recovery:

  • Conduct a Thorough Inspection: Once it’s safe, inspect your boat lift for any signs of damage. Pay close attention to the integrity of cables, pulleys, and the structure itself.
  • Test the Electrical System: Before using the lift, ensure the electrical system functions correctly and safely. Look for any water damage or corrosion.
  • Schedule Professional Maintenance: If you suspect any damage or wear that might affect the lift’s operation, have a professional inspect and repair it as necessary.

Long-Term Strategies for Boat Lift Care

Future-Proofing Your Investment:

  • Invest in Quality: Consider upgrading to a boat lift designed to withstand the specific challenges of your environment, whether that’s saltwater corrosion, ice, or extreme wind.
  • Consider a Comprehensive Insurance Policy: Ensure your boat lift is covered under your insurance policy, especially if you live in an area prone to severe weather.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest weather forecasts and advancements in boat lift technology and maintenance practices.

Weathering the storm: Preparing boat lifts for hurricanes, storm surge

the boat pushed up on dock by hurrican ian storm surge
the boat pushed up on dock by hurricane Ian storm surge


Preparing your boat lift for extreme weather conditions requires foresight, regular maintenance, and a proactive approach to potential threats. By understanding the risks associated with your specific environment and implementing a tailored protection plan, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your boat lift and ensure its continued functionality and reliability. Remember, the time and effort you invest in preparing for extreme weather can save you from facing significant repairs or replacements down the line. Stay vigilant, stay prepared, and ensure that both your boat and its lift are ready to weather any storm.

Boat Lift and Dock Winterization

Boat Lift and Dock Winterization for long dock on frozen lake

Winter is coming. It is all too easy to believe that there is no need for ongoing care during the winter months, but it is important to realize that without proper preventative care, ice can wreak havoc with your dock and boat lift, which may result in thousands of dollars in damage. As the ice expands and contracts, the pressure can cause your dock to become misshapen or damaged. Strong winds, tides and seiches can also cause ice floes into your dock, damaging pilings and dock structure. If snow builds up on top of your boat, the extra weight may cause your boat lift to fail if it isn’t removed promptly.

What Happens When Your Boat Lift Or Dock Is Not Ready For Winter

How To Protect Your Dock

The goal is to prevent ice from forming around your permanent dock. There are two main methods, bubblers and deicers. A dock bubbler uses self-weighted air hoses connected to an air compressor on shore. The low pressure, high volume air releases thousands of bubbles through holes in the hose which agitate the water and brings warmer water to the surface. This keeps the area free of ice and works best when the water depth is 6 feet or less. Dock deicers are a submersible unit with a built-in impeller and motor that is installed below the dock. The deicer’s propellers create an artificial current that draws up warmer subsurface water to the surface. Creating a continuous flow of warmer water to the surface prevents ice from forming. Although these methods are not full-proof, they are good enough to protect your dock during most winters.

How To Protect Your Dock during winter

How To Protect Your Boat Lift

The first thing to do when winterizing your boat lift is to perform a thorough inspection. Pay special attention to your cables and replace them if there is any sign of fraying. Spraying the cables with a penetrating lubricant may protect them from ice. If your lift has a chain or bearings that require lubrication, make sure that they are sufficiently lubricated. It is best to store your boat on-shore during winter. If this is not possible, make sure to raise your lift as high as possible and secure the cradles to the top beams and other dock structure using strapping. This will prevent your boat from rocking in the wind and will support the boat if a cable were to break. These measures should be sufficient to safeguard your boat lift as long as the underlying dock structure and pilings are not damaged.

We recently wrote about a customer of ours that had a neat idea to protect his elevator-style boat lift during the Michigan winter. He safely stores his boat on land during winter and uses our custom engineered pivoting brackets to lift the elevator tracks out of the water for winter storage. What a great way to prevent track damage from the ice.

How To Protext Your Boat Lift during the winter

How To Protect Your Boat

Nobody knows how to better protect your boat than the insurance experts at BoatUS. Please check out their complete guide to winterizing your boat. It is really well written and thorough.

Tip for Winterizing Your Boat

Here’s looking forward to Spring so that we can begin boating again.