Living on the water has been a long-time dream of yours. Besides delivering daily spectacular views, your waterfront home gives you the chance to do more kayaking. Kayaking is a proven way to tone muscles, increase weight loss, and reduce stress. However, just like everything else in life, your success with kayaking depends on the level of effort that you put into the activity. The benefits of using a kayak lift help to ensure that kayaking remains a lifelong pursuit. Here are five benefits of employing a kayak lift when launching your craft from your permanent dock.
#1 Safe, Stable Launch
Remember your introduction to kayaking? Capsizing and splashing around in the water was just part of the experience. Today, you find your thrills gliding through the water without getting soaked. Employing a kayak lift at your dock or seawall allows you to safely enter your kayak without the risk of flipping it. The aluminum structure is securely attached to your dock. The lift cradles your kayak while you climb down the ladder and board your craft safely and securely using the lift’s ADA compliant handrail. This is a great option if you want to minimize flipping hazards for kayak photography trips or for winter kayaking.
#2 Built for Comfort
Most kayak lifts feature a ladder that runs straight up the wall, so you climb down with your back to the kayak. It’s hard to board in this position, which is why the unique design of the IMM Quality Boat Lifts kayak launch includes a ladder perpendicular to the dock or seawall. The ladder is also angled slightly, making it much easier to climb than a ladder that is completely vertical. An angled ladder ensures less risk of falling backward while boarding, and especially when returning home tired and shaky. At the foot of the conveniently perpendicular and angled ladder is a large platform with plenty of space to turn around and place all your things.
#3 Accommodates Many Sizes and Styles of Kayaks
You’ve become quite the expert about everything kayaking over the years. After much research, you know the kayak size and configuration that suits your lifestyle the best. Whether you need a kayak that can conquer choppy surf or one that you can easily maneuver in a calm canal, you can get a kayak lift to fit it. Kayak lifts have adjustable bunks that can support kayaks of varying widths. You’ll still be able to use the lift if you upgrade your kayak or have one of those specialty models such as a catamaran kayak. The kayak lifts that are offered by IMM Quality Boat Lifts support up to 1200 pounds of weight.
#4 Easy Re-Entry
Nothing’s worse than taking awesome pictures while kayaking and having your equipment ruined when you try to disembark from the craft. When you use kayak lifts, you can just glide right up to your dock and safely climb up the ladder without getting you or your gear wet.
#5 One-Person Operation
While kayaking can be a good way to socialize with like-minded boaters, sometimes you’ll want to hit the waterway solo. Kayak lifts support solo kayaking trips with easy-to-use functional features and safety mechanisms. You can load your kayak onto the lift, lower it into the water, and glide off to your next adventure without the help of another person who must steady the kayak or hand you gear. Using a kayak lift makes quick work of the bothersome part of kayaking, which is getting into and out of the craft. The hand crank for the manual winch of an IMM Quality kayak lift is installed at 36″, waist height, which makes operation even easier.
#6 Options for Powered Lift Operations
Employing a kayak lift leaves you with more time for paddling and exploring your waterway. Instead of trying to maintain your balance as you enter your kayak, you can simply climb into a stable kayak and lower yourself into the water with a manual or electric winch system. IMM Quality Boat Lifts offers an electric kayak lift that’s solar-powered.
After working hard and playing even harder for the majority of your life, you now want some of the creature comforts that make living more convenient and enjoyable. A kayak lift is one of those items that delivers a fun, hassle-free experience on the water.
Lift accessories for boat lifts can make your life much easier by eliminating hassles and increasing safety. For example, guide-ins can save time and prevent docking difficulties. Floodlights increase safety and convenience. Hull supports can keep your sailboat or motorboat secure, and wireless remotes offer you the ability to control technology accessories.
Choosing The Right Lift Accessories for Your Needs
Depending on your boat’s size, value and dock, slip or berth location, certain accessories are more useful than others. Some of the most popular accessories include:
Guide post brackets
Split ball weights
Rotary limit switches
Side mount brackets
Bonita manual controls
Installing solar power panels takes an upfront investment, but the cost-value return is phenomenal. Solar power is 100-percent reliable and very cost-effective once you get the panels installed. You’ll need one or more solar panels, a charge controller, inverter and backup battery to make the system work.
Gem Remote Control Units
Gem remote controls are the most powerful in the industry for controlling lifts as easily as opening your garage door. One unit can control up to four lifts. You can order a spare miniature remote that floats on the water if you drop it in the drink. An automated feature stops the lift at the top and bottom positions.
Hinged Boarding Platform
Hinged boarding platforms come in handy when the dock doesn’t wrap around the boat. That makes it difficult to wash, paint or maintain it. Other walk boards can be installed on the lift to simplify routine processes and prevent you from needing to lay on your back to perform some chores.
Pontoon risers can help you dry out your pontoon. Bolting the tails directly to carpeting and decking generally results in standing pools of water because there’s no pathway for the water to drain. Rail risers allow you to drain water and circulate air, which stops mold and mildew growth and rotting.
Wood bunk accessories are popular for different types of lifts for adding stronger hull support for various models. They’re relatively easy to install for pontoons, fiberglass runabouts, and aluminum fishing boats.
Lift accessories provide boat support, greater control, and convenience for repairs and maintenance. Using your lift regularly prevents lower-unit wear, hull blistering, corrosion and algae growth.
The key to protecting your boat and home from hurricanes is to get prepared well in advance of any threatening weather.
Hurricane season should be taken seriously, especially if you live on the Eastern seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane season starts June 1st and lasts until the end of November. While there is nothing you can do to prevent a hurricane from occurring, there are a number of preventative measures you can take to prepare your boat and dock for the conditions they may be exposed to during a tropical storm or hurricane.
Check Your Seawall
Take a look at your seawall during low tide. If you notice any cracking, shifting or leaning of the seawall, bowing, or erosion of the ground around the seawall, it is best to get it inspected by a professional marine contractor. There are certain types of cracks which are just cosmetic. However, it takes a trained eye to know when the structural integrity of the seawall has been compromised.
Have Your Dock Inspected
If your dock is old or in bad condition, it may not be able to withstand the high winds and rough waters during severe weather. The integrity of your boat lift is only as good as the underlying structure. It is a good idea to have your dock and pilings inspected by a professional to make sure they are in good condition and will not break apart and damage your boat, house, or surrounding structures.
Make sure your home is prepared
The most important thing is to have an emergency preparedness plan for your family. For help creating an emergency preparedness plan, you can consult this really good guide. Next, you will want to secure your home before an impending storm hits. It goes without saying that you should install your hurricane shutters (or board up windows), sandbags and other safety devices. There are many obvious precautions to take when it comes to things outside your home. For instance, you’ll want to bring in outdoor furniture, potted plants, and anything else that may blow away in the wind or potentially harm your home or neighbors’ homes. You should think about the specific needs of your family and then assemble a disaster supplies kit. For helpful suggestions of essential items, take a look at the following emergency kit guide and checklist.
Make Sure Your Boat is Prepared
The first thing to do is to secure your essential documents in a safe location on dry land. You will want to have photos of your vessel and home, an inventory of items in your home, an inventory of equipment on your vessel, contact phone numbers including your insurance company, copies of your insurance policies, a copy of your vehicle registrations and any other documents you deem essential. Next, you should turn off the boat’s electrical system and remove the battery. Remove any detachable equipment from the vessel to prevent breakage (such as radios, sails, canvas, cushions, dinghies, and other equipment). Lash down anything that can’t be removed, such as wheels, tillers, and booms. To prevent chafing, wrap protective covering around your lines wherever the ropes touch the boat. Seal off all windows, doors, and hatches. Finally, make sure to shut off your boat’s fuel lines.
Make Sure Your Boat is Stored Properly
To prevent or minimize damage to your boat, you must make sure it is stored properly. While the best solution is to relocate the vessel out of the storm area, this may not be practical based on personal safety factors and limited availability of time and resources. Taking it to storage on dry land, if you have that option available, will be the next safest option as the vessel will be protected from rough water and storm surge. As a rule, boats tied to docks are at higher risk than boats kept at moorings or on anchors. Floating docks are rarely strong enough to take the loads exerted on them by boats in storm conditions. In addition, if the storm surge or tides are extremely high, floating docks may simply float off the pilings which hold them in place. A boat kept at a dock can’t weathercock (face into the wind) as storm winds change direction. Therefore, the boat at a dock almost always presents more windage than a boat secured to moorings or anchors that is free to swing head to wind.
The BoatUS Marine Insurance company wrote an excellent article on preparing boats for hurricanes. It discusses the various forces that can damage your boat during a hurricane. It then discusses the pros and cons of securing your boat ashore, at dock, in hurricane holes, on high-rise storage racks, on davits, on boat lifts, on trailers, at a mooring, at anchor or both. It provides step-by-step instruction on how to position your boat and arrange the lines for each of the possibilities. It also discusses other critical points that will help minimize the potential for damage during severe weather.
How to Prepare Your Boat Lift
We do not recommend securing your boat to the boat lift during a hurricane. A boat lift is not the ideal place to store your vessel during a hurricane, as the storm surge can rise higher than your lift. Furthermore, your boat has a lot of surface area relative to the piles and will greatly increase the wind force on the piles. Leaving the boat on the lift will increase the likelihood that hurricane-force winds will break the piles (or lift them out of the seabed) and cause your lift to collapse.
Therefore, the first step of preparing your boat lift for a hurricane is to remove the boat and store it someplace safe. Once the boat is removed, raise the cradle beams as high as you can and tie off the cradles to the piles. If you have an elevator-style lift, use extra lines to secure the cradle arms to help minimize the potential for them to sway in the wind. If you think the storm surge will swamp the lift, remove the boat lift motors, gearboxes, switches, covers & store in a dry safe place. Make sure you secure the cradles to structure BEFORE removing the gearbox as the cradles will fall without the gearbox holding the cables in place.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can reinforce your lift and piles using aluminum I-beams. Bracing your lift enables you to securely lock each corner of your lift’s cradle to its piling and creates one solid structure between the four pilings and the four corners of your lift. Your cables are one of the weak points of the lift, and the bracing will also support your cradles if the cables break. To accomplish this, you run an I-beam under each lift top beam and secure them to the slip side of the piles with U-bolts, aluminum backing plates, and locknuts. Then, the cradle beams will rest on and be secured to the I-beams. Our engineers can help you size the appropriate components and provide instructions for their installation. Or if you prefer an all in one kit, they are available from companies like Swing Stoppers.
What if you have no choice but to leave the boat on the lift?
If storing your boat somewhere else is not an option, knowing the amount of storm surge (the expected height of water above normal predicted tide) is the determining factor in how to best secure your boat to the lift during a hurricane.
If you are 100% confident that the storm surge will be below the raised height of the boat, you can take the following steps. Prepare the boat and lift as described above, leaving all lift equipment installed. The most crucial factor is to create a drainage system to prevent water from collecting in the hull and overloading the lift. It is not a good idea to rely on bilge pumps and batteries for draining the water since they can become overloaded (or fail) in a storm. Remove the boat drainage plug(s), so the water can drain out by gravity, lessen the strain on the bilge pumps and prevent the lift structure from overloading. If possible, slightly tilt (1-2 inches) the boat on the lift so that the rainwater will run out of the scuppers. This is easily accomplished on IMM Quality lifts using our wedge locks or adjustable height bunk brackets. Raise the boat as high as your lift allows and tie it as tightly as you can to the lift.
If the boat lift does not go high enough to be above storm surge levels or if you are not sure, you can try the following things. Prepare the boat and lift as described above, leaving all lift equipment installed. Slightly tilt (1-2 inches) the boat on the lift so that the rainwater will run out of the scuppers. Leave the boat drainage plug(s) in place. Pray that your bilge pumps don’t fail or become overloaded by the storm. Raise your boat as high as the lift allows but do not secure the boat to the lift. Secure long ropes to anchor points (do not secure to floating docks, use pilings) in case the surge lifts the boat off the lift. It is best to tie the lines high on the pilings, so they will not be chafed if a floating dock rides up on the pilings. Instead of using loose bowlines around the pilings, use multiple clove hitches, or a clove hitch finished with two half hitches. That way, the lines will tighten on the pilings, and are unlikely to pull off even if the pilings go under. If all goes well, these steps may help keep your boat somewhat close to your boat lift.
After the Storm
There is no way any one blog post can cover all of the contingencies (for example, we have completely ignored insurance concerns), but we hope this article puts you on the right path. If you follow these tips and think about how they apply to your situation, you will be well prepared for hurricane season and can rest easier knowing your home and boat are as safe as possible. For more information on what to do once the weather clears up, please read our post “After a Storm: Inspecting Your Boat Lift and Dock”.
Get High Quality Lifts Today!
At IMM Quality Boat Lifts, we are committed to building the best quality boat lifts on the market today. Our lifts are built to last a lifetime.
But more than that, we want you to enjoy being out on the water in your boat. We don’t want you wasting your time on maintenance, repairs, or even where to find the best boat shoes. Keep visiting our blog to learn all about the boating lifestyle and Boat Lifts.
When it comes to choosing a lift for your boat, pontoon or PWC, there are a few things you will need to know to ensure you purchase a lift that is the proper size for your watercraft. Knowing the overall weight and beam of your boat is the best place to start. This will allow you to choose the correct weight capacity and the correct cradle width.
Finding the Overall Weight
When determining the overall weight of a watercraft, you will need to account for the dry weight of the watercraft, the fuel, gear, water and the weight of any non-factory additions. This will give you a more accurate weight, allowing you to choose the correct lift capacity.
The dry weight of a watercraft is usually provided in the brochure or specification sheet for the watercraft. Another great resource for this information is the online NADA guides (www.nadaguides.com/Boats). Please note, the dry weight provided often does not account for the weight of outboard motors.
Depending on the temperature, type, and blend, gasoline weighs approximately 6 lbs. per gallon (0.72 kg per liter). With this information and the capacity of your fuel tank, you can calculate how much a full tank of gas will add to your boat’s overall weight.
Water weighs approximately 8 lbs. per gallon (0.96 kg per liter). You should account for the capacity of your fresh water tanks, waste water tanks, and any live wells.
The weight of non-factory additions like wakeboard towers, bimini tops, additional seating, generators, air conditioning units, coolers and swim platforms should be added to the overall weight calculation.
Take a look at everything stored in your boat. Your gear like skis, wakeboards, scuba equipment, etc. should be added to the total weight of the watercraft.
Once you have found the overall weight of your watercraft, you can then determine the correct boat lift weight capacity needed for your watercraft. It is best to add in a 20% margin of safety and then select the next higher capacity for your lift.
Why should you have a margin of safety? There are many things that can adversely impact the lifting capacity that you may not realize. For example, a boat lift’s capacity is calculated assuming the center of gravity of the watercraft has been perfectly centered on the cradles. If the overall weight is too close to the lift’s rated capacity and you place your bunks a little closer to the dock side or if you park too far forward or behind the center line, you can overstress one side or even a single corner of a lift. What if you forget to remove the drain plug and there is a heavy rain? How about a heavy snowfall that puts a couple of feet on top of your watercraft? What if you don’t realize that the bilge pump is malfunctioning and you are accumulating water? All of these things may result in a lift failure if you don’t include a safety margin when selecting the lift capacity. The point is that little things can add up and it is best to err on the side of caution.
Finding the Length of the Cradle Beam
You will then want to find the beam of your watercraft, which is basically the widest portion of your watercraft. The inside pile to inside pile width needed to park your watercraft on the lift should be the beam width of your watercraft plus at least a 4” cushion on both sides (this minimum distance situation presumes that you will have dock pile bumpers and use the piles as guides). If you plan to use guideposts on the lift for your boat, it is a good idea to give yourself at least a 10” to 12” cushion on both sides.
Finally, you should remember that the lifting beams are centered on top of the piles so the lifting cables will be centered on the piles as well. Therefore, you need to account for the center of pile distance (to get the center of pile to center of pile distance, add one pile diameter to your running total). For example, if your boat had a beam width of 8’ 6”, you planned on using guide posts with a 12” cushion on both sides and the piles had a 10” diameter, the minimum length of your cradle beam would be 8’6” (beam) + 12” + 12” (cushion) + 10” (center of pile) = 11’4”.
Choosing the Right Sized Lift for your Boat
You should also consider the local water conditions. Most importantly, you need to know the water depth at low tide. Keep in mind that there is about a 12’ distance between piles, so it is a good idea to measure the water depth at both ends to ensure that you have enough depth to accommodate the draft of your watercraft so that you can float onto the bunks. The smallest lifts use 6” cradle beams, whereas the largest use 12” cradle beams, and sometimes every inch counts in low water conditions.
Once you have all of your calculations in place, you should consult the lift manufacturer’s specification sheets. These documents should specify the lift capacities, recommended pile spacing and beam sizes for the various models of lifts. All of our lift specification sheets are available under the Documentation tab at our website, firstname.lastname@example.org. With these pieces of information, you should be able to determine the appropriate capacity lift for your boat. Or if you would rather have some guidance, please feel free to contact our sales staff at (800) 545-5603. In addition to our standard lift models found on our specification sheets, please keep in mind that IMM Quality Boat Lifts is the industry leading custom lift builder. Our engineers will be more than happy to design the perfectly sized lift to fit your individual needs.
Easy Boat Lift Calculator Tool
Ready to calculate the fully loaded weight of your watercraft? IMM Quality Boat Lifts can help! Simply input the numbers into our easy calculator tool to determine your boat’s overall weight.
Here’s a question:
Off the top of your head, how much time, money and energy have you invested in your boat?
If you’re like every other boat owner in history, the answer is, “a lot.”
So why would you want anything but the best boat lift for your needs?
The tricky part is figuring out what “best” means for you.
And it is tricky. There are almost as many kinds of boat lifts as there are boats to be lifted.
We can’t tell you what you need without knowing your exact situation. But we can give you some valuable tips to help and things to consider as you figure it out for yourself.
Consider the Boat
There are plenty of horror stories of boat owners who bought the wrong boat lift for their boat. Or who asked their lift to perform beyond its capacity.
You can avoid a lot of those problems by considering the kind of lift and lift capacity that’s right for your boat.
That means calculating the weight of your boat when it’s loaded with fuel, supplies, toys and accessories.
And remember that the shape of your hull and its draft will help determine the lifting height you need, the minimum water depth and the bunks you’ll need on your boat lift.
Consider the Dock
There’s a lot to weigh here. For example, is your dock fixed or floating?
Does it have notable erosion due to marine life or tides?
And consider these factors:
What are the physical dimensions of your slip?
Can your dock structure support the installation of the boat lift you’re considering?
If your dock has a roof, is it high enough for your boat when it’s raised high enough to clear the water? And is it strong enough to support both the suspended boat lift and your fully loaded boat?
Is your slip deep enough to allow the lift you’re considering to lower the cradles enough to float your boat off the cradles?
Are there obstructions in the slip that might interfere with lift operation?
Is electricity available to your dock?
Consider the Water
Is your slip subject to rough water? If so, be sure to consider a lift high enough to clear the water in typical conditions.
Is your slip subject to variations in water depth? If so, you may need a floating dock, or a custom design to satisfy your need.
Consider the Useful Life of the Boat Lift
Nothing lasts forever. But some things last a lot longer than others. And some need a lot more maintenance than others.
For example, what’s the boat lift you’re considering made of? Aluminum does not rust and is stronger and lighter than steel.
How are the bearings and pulleys designed? Grease bearings and pulleys need expensive maintenance on a regular basis. And the black grease they use can leak, making a mess of your boat, dock and lift.
Are you a DIY type or do you hire out your maintenance? If you DIY, do have some way to safely reach the outside top beam to inspect and lubricate its components?
If any of these are a concern, you should consider a low-maintenance lift design.
Consider Your Specific Needs and Preferences
What kind of style of lift would you prefer? Standard top beam, elevator or beamless?
Do you want a standard installation? Or would you prefer your top beams set high so that you walk under them? Or set your top beams low and use them as a step while boarding?
How about a platform lift where the lifting cradle is covered in decking?
Are you looking for a manual control lift or would you prefer remote lift controls that automatically stop the lift at the top, bottom and boarding height?
Do you have custom design or accessory needs? Are you interested in a canopy, boarding platform, underwater lights or powder coating your lift to match any color?
Are you the type of person that hates to stand around waiting on things? If so, you should consider the drive and how it affects the speed of the lift. For example, flat-plate drives, besides being incredibly noisy, are extremely slow.
There you have it, a basic breakdown of what to consider when choosing a boat lift. However, if you still have questions or want a professional to evaluate your specific needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.