| New lifts are keeping big boats above it all.
Written and photographed by Ellie Van Os — November 2001
Many aspects of yacht ownership are bound to change in this new century, and one is the fact that boat lifts are no longer just for runabouts. Waterfront residents owning pontoon boats and open-fishermen have long been able to hoist their boats clear of the water, but the hardware now exists to elevate motoryachts--and in some instances even megayachts--on custom cradles at private docks. Owners of vessels from 35 to 95 feet are taking a closer look at a technology that not too long ago was limited to lifting jonboats out of the water with a crank handle. And they're discovering that the advantages, pardon the pun, outweigh the costs.
Most owners say the primary reason to purchase a boat lift is to avoid external damage. Keeping a yacht docked adjacent to a home on the Intracoastal Waterway, for example, would be unimaginable for many owners due to the destructive lashing by wakes. Likewise, the threat of severe weather, including high winds and waves, can be at least partially eliminated via a lift, and some Northern yacht owners say they also want to be able to protect their hulls from the destructive effects of water-born ice.
Coming in a strong second reason to invest in a boat lift is security, both from theft and an insecure mooring. With the yacht perched above the water, an owner can obviously be less concerned about things like chaffed dock lines and dragged moorings and with the prospect of someone climbing aboard his vessel and quickly motoring away.
The list of advantages is even longer, including savings in time and money on routine maintenance. Indeed, this is the reason most owners say they love their lifts after they are installed. The elimination of slime growth on his vessel's hull caused one owner to claim that he was making more headway at idle speed, an observation that indicates improved efficiency. The savings in zinc replacements, haul-out fees, bottom paint, and drive train maintenance can be dramatic.
The increased awareness of and subsequent demand for high-capacity lifts is evident to no one more than the lift manufacturers. Hi-Tide Sales in Fort Pierce, Florida, manufactures lifts with capacities ranging to 120,000 pounds, and vice president Bill Caldwell estimates that his company sends out an average of one 40,000-pound lift a week and one 60,000-pound lift a month. Hi-Tide has just installed one of its largest lifts ever, a 120,000-pounder intended for a 95-foot yacht, in Miami. Caldwell says that such large lifts now constitute 25 percent of its sales, which while mainly in the south, also include installations in New York, the Great Lakes, St. Martin, and the Bahamas.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.