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Author Topic:   Boat lift vs drive on boat float
SEAJ posted 01-05-2012 08:42 PM ET (US)   Profile for SEAJ   Send Email to SEAJ  
Does anyone one have any advise or experience with electric boat lifts and drive on boat floats. Originally having plans to install a Quality Aluminum Lift, my dock has electricity and pilings ready. I am wanting to complete this project in the next month or so, but I am having second thoughts on the electric lift. I have not heard good things about the black square floats, but I am intrigued by the floats made by Carolina Waterworks, call Safe Haven boat lifts,/ They are foam filled and much larger floats than the popular black 2'x2' square. Any information on Quality Aluminum Boat lifts or any other manufacturer would be appreciated (they all say they are the best). Thanks
contender posted 01-05-2012 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
SEAJ: The problem with the drive on type is that part of the boat is always in the water, it is subject to waves and other boats going by, thief is easier, they fall apart after a while and get covered with either the green slim or barnacles depending on where you live. Also depending on the product it will mark up the bottom of your boat. I know the electric lift (talking about the one that raises the boat all the way out of the water) is going to cost you more, but I think you are better off in the long run. I think it is better for your boat. Keeps it out of the water and away from boat traffic going by. Keeping out of the water you can just leave the drain plug out so not to worry about the battery running down. Most of the boat lifts in the Keys use this type of boat lifts, twin I beams with electric motors, the only drive on ones I see are usually for jet skis...
Ridge Runner posted 01-06-2012 07:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Ridge Runner  Send Email to Ridge Runner     
Interesting... These may work well for a protected lake. I think in coastal waters a large storm surge could be a problem. One issue I have seen with this type of system is the wearing away of the gelcoat where it contacts the lift.
Jefecinco posted 01-06-2012 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Hull wear, including gel coat and bottom paint, would be the main problem. I don't know how you would "power on" the float without striking your lower unit. Unless your transducer is mounted high it would strike the float. All this assumes the boat would be pulled onto the float sufficiently to get the hull and motor completely out of the water. Otherwise, what Contender says would apply.

I've seen only one boat using a float at the slip. It is an Orange Beach Marine Police boat with an aluminum hull and flotation collar. The after two or three feet of the boat remains in the water. It's located at "The Wharf Marina" on the ICW in Orange Beach.

The floats are widely used by jet ski rental companies in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

I would use a lift in your circumstances.


RickS posted 01-06-2012 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for RickS  Send Email to RickS     
I have an electric lift for my boat and a drive on EZ-port for my wave runner. The lift is much nicer! The wave runner has 2 areas of broken gel coat and cracked fiberglass where it initially contacts the float.
Go with the lift.
Tohsgib posted 01-06-2012 01:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Drive-ons also require you to drive on or off which might piss off your neighbors. They also take up a LOT more room but not sure about a permit as they are not a permanent structure. Lastly they are not cheap and do not last more than say 10 years in FL.
SEAJ posted 01-06-2012 02:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for SEAJ  Send Email to SEAJ     
Thanks for the advice, especially from RickS having owned both types. I am not so concerned about the boat lying in the water, as this newer system completely lifts the boat out of the water with air assistance, but the plastic against gelcoat has been a worry of mine. I was attracted to the Safe Haven lift system for several reasons, 1. being a lot less moving parts (I would assume less likely to fail and maintain), and 2. being when the boat is not on the float, it would add to the square footage of my dock.
But after reading yall's input, sounds like the electric boat lift is the way to go. I have been looking at "Quality Aluminum Boat lifts," has anyone had experience with this brand? All of the dealers I have contacted all say their lift is the latest and greatest. The price seems to close to the same if I go electric or float, I just don't want to buy a problem. Thanks for the help.

Ridge Runner posted 01-06-2012 07:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ridge Runner  Send Email to Ridge Runner     
I have a Hi-Tide 13,000lbb lift, it has been rock solid for 7 years. I get it serviced twice at year for $70 a service.
Tohsgib posted 01-07-2012 11:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
For the most part the motors are all the same 3/4hp unit and cost roughly $175 to replace. Not much else in the way of moving parts than cables and pullies. My 10k lift is a 1995 and runs flawlessly other than the time it turned itself on and snaped throwing a Montauk 8' nose first into my damage to the boat just a busted bunk and cable on the lift. Make sure if yours is REMOTE control that you have a shut off so it can't do what I described while visiting FNO for the weekend.
Romanglock posted 03-21-2012 06:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for Romanglock  Send Email to Romanglock     
I have used a Jetdock for 5 years for my 18' Scout center console and I love it. The boat drives completely out of the water, and is able to power off on it's own. I have never needed the winch. I constantly had repairs on my previous powered winch lift hoist.
tom976 posted 03-21-2012 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for tom976  Send Email to tom976     
Very nice to have the boat on a lift since its high and dry. I guess the drive-on's depend on the size of the boat as well as how you are about the age. Old boat and dont care? Drive it on up. Larger boat and newish, get the lift.

Depending on where you are located, its nice that you can leave that boat on the lift in the winter. Float ons you need to remove if there is a chance that waterway can freeze over. (also means you got to block it or put it on a trailer)

grizzly posted 03-21-2012 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for grizzly    
I just had a 10,000 lb Quality boat lift installed in Florida. They are made in Fort Myers and seem to be a common brand, at least on the west coast of Florida. I have no complaints about the lift so far, except it is very slow going up or down. In hindsight, I might have chosen the optional faster drive. The lift is new, so I can't assess its reliability until it is at least a few years old. As someone mentioned, it is pretty simple technologyu so I expect it to be reliable.
Kencvit posted 03-21-2012 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Kencvit  Send Email to Kencvit     
My brother in law bought a Sunstream foating lift,solar powered hydraulic for his 21 Cobalt 2 years ago.


I get my 19' Whaler on it in the fall once he puts his boat away for the season.
It has performed flawlessly in the last 2 years.

On the website they have a new V model that looks good too.

divtruk posted 03-21-2012 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for divtruk  Send Email to divtruk     
A few of the boats here at the Santa cruz harbor use a floating lift. The lift has two or four large air floats. You just drive your boat over standard bunks like you would see on a trailer and then you turn on a air pump to fill the floats. Lifts the boat completely out of the water.


martyn1075 posted 03-22-2012 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075

vacottonking posted 03-22-2012 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for vacottonking  Send Email to vacottonking     
I have used a 10,000 pound electric lift (East Coast Boat lifts) for a 4000 pound boat for 9 years with flawless performance. I have used a floating dock for my 15' Whaler from This float has wheels at the back and extensions that help for a lot different applications. This was much more economical than any other floating option I could find and simple to install by myself. I am in a protected area. I do not use a wench but if water was shallow this would be easy to do. I like both systems for the way I use them.
falcon posted 04-01-2012 04:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for falcon  Send Email to falcon     
I think it depends on where you dock.I am in a river off lake huron.I use a drive on dock for my 16 and share it with my buddy who has a 18 ft.I can power on and off with ease.In the fall we break the docks in sections and store them on a trailer.It would be nearly immposible for me to get a lift in the river.If I left the lift in, the ice would destroy it.You can see our set-up on the Jet Float website.

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