ArticleBoatingService Repair

Float On

Although your boat was designed for the brine, if you are serious about protecting your investment it’s time you consider a boat lift. While many choose the route of cable-driven lifts or rely on ablative bottom paint to thwart marine growth, numerous floating lift options now exist to suit nearly every dock configuration and type of craft.


Floating boat lifts have been around for some time now and are continuing to grow in popularity. Much like the rest of the marine industry, the last decade has yielded a plethora of innovation to the market.

Keeping your boat out of the water is not only critical to its longevity, but also helps maintain its value.

What started as an inexpensive, simple and secure way to keep small boats and PWCs above water has expanded to a range of systems with options including floating plastic and air/hydraulic assisted lifts capable of accommodating vessels upwards of 50-feet in length. As with most purchases made to support an active boating lifestyle, there are several factors to consider when deciding on a float-on boat lift.

One distinct advantage that attracts boaters to floating lifts is the relatively low price in comparison to more complex cable-driven lifts. Prices range based on brand, size and style, but there is typically intent to save money when making the decision to go with a floating lift. Depending on the type of lift you choose the price can be similar to the investment of a cable-driven lift, but you likely won’t be required to hire a professional or pull permits for installation, so there is money to be saved.

Another benefit to a floating lift is that it requires far less maintenance and care. The simplest floating lifts are constructed with high-density polyethylene cubes that are modular and can be used to accommodate nearly any configuration. Additionally, they don’t rely on motors, cables or gears to function properly. This means there are no components to grease or lubricate and nothing that will rot, rust or corrode. In reality, all that needs to be done with a static lift is keeping the surfaces clean and making sure the mooring and winch lines are in good shape.

Static floating lifts from manufacturers like JetDock (, EZ Dock ( and Dock Blocks ( keep vessels out of harms reach from abuse by wind, waves, marine growth, and corrosion from harsh saltwater contaminants. However, innovations within the industry have led to more intricate floating lift systems that sup-port the weight of larger vessels.

Sunstream Boat Lifts ( is a leader in this category, with units that combine the simplicity of a static drive-on platform with the ease of use of a hydraulic system. Sunstream’s FloatLift gives users the ability to easily drive their boat into position and with the touch of a button lift it out of the water. In this case, powerful hydraulics lift foam-filled polyethylene floats under the boat in as little as 30 seconds. Along with the FloatLift, Sunstream offers the V-Liftgc, an air-assisted system that is a somewhat simpler alternative to the FloatLift. Instead of using hydraulics, the portable V-Liftgc uses a quiet multi-blower DC system that gets a boat afloat in as little as a minute.

Receiving the first patent for a hydro-pneumatic boat lift in 1964, HydroHoist ( is highly respected for their superior floating lift options. The newly released saltwater specific HarborHoist represents the latest innovation in their constant evolution. Designed around a lifting frame constructed with aircraft grade aluminum and rugged polyethylene tanks, the unit is compatible with fixed or floating docks, and can be configured for nearly any vessel. This rugged and versatile unit lifts a boat out of the water by pumping air into the impact resistant tanks, and operates with standard AC control or optional solar/DC system.

An often overlooked feature of floating boat lifts and one that’s not provided with traditional cable-driven lifts is the ability to access the outside of the vessel via non-skid walkways. Cleaning and inspecting the hull, fittings, underwater lights, transducers, trim tabs and props has never been easier.

Keeping your boat out of the water is not only critical to its longevity, but also helps maintain its value. While there’s a wide range of manufacturers and styles available, if you do a little research you will certainly find the proper boat lift that fits your particular application and budget.