Docks, Boat Lifts, and Seawall Blog

Frequently Asked Questions About Boat Lifts

If you have questions about your boat lift or are thinking about getting one, we have the answers you need. We gathered up our expert team at Stokes Marine to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about boat lifts.


Will I benefit from a shallow water/kicked cradle?


Answer: If the water depth is deeper on one side of your slip than the other, a shallow water cradle will more than likely benefit you. Measure the depth at the center of the lift piling on the shallow side of your slip and compare it to the depth 3' into your slip. This depth difference tells you how much water depth benefit you will get from electing a shallow water cradle. 

Lifts that are located parallel to or on an angle in relation to the seawall generally benefit from a shallow water cradle. As the water depth on the outside of the lift closer to the center of the canal is generally deeper than the water depth close to the seawall. If your lift is oriented 90 degrees off the seawall the shallow water cradle more than likely will not help you for a water depth utilization purposes.


Why is an aluminum walk board better than a wood walk board?


Answer: Aluminum walk boards do not increase the buoyancy of the cradle assembly like a wooden walk board. Wooden walk boards oftentimes make the cradle float. This is especially the case with aluminum lifts as aluminum is lighter than galvanized steel.

Aluminum walk boards are stronger than wooden walk boards and can be extended past the cradles allowing you to better reach the front and rear of the boat when walking on it. Wooden walk boards deflect or break with the weight of a person walking on them if they are extending past the cradles more than a few feet.

Aluminum walk boards can also be made in a variety of widths allowing more room to traverse along the side of the boat and aluminum walk boards can be easily accessorized with steps, stern cross over platforms, handrails, guide poles, and more.

Aluminum walk boards do not warp, crack, rot, cup, or splinter like wood walk boards. Aluminum handles the exposure to the water and environment better than wood.


How much additional water depth (over and above the draft of my vessel) will I need if a boat lift is installed?


Answer: Most lifts add approximately 12” to the required water depth over and above the draft of the boat. The exact distance that the lift adds is the height of the cradle beam plus the amount of clearance between the centerline of the boat and the top of the cradle. The full height of the bunks on a “V” hull does not affect the additional water amount depth needed as the centerline of the boat is lower than the top of the bunks. We recommend the bunks be positioned so the centerline of the boat is only 2”-3” above the cradle. If the amount of clearance is higher than it needs to be one will need that much more water depth to float the boat off the lift.


What are the differences between an aluminum boat lift and a galvanized steel boat lift?


Answer: Aluminum will not rust which is the biggest advantage they offer over galvanized lifts in our saltwater environment. 

Aluminum boat lifts have stainless steel hardware where galvanized boat lifts use galvanized steel hardware. Aluminum boat lifts can have the cradle size reduced by cutting the aluminum cradle beams. If you cut or scratch the galvanized coating off a galvanized steel lift it will rust and continue to peel the galvanization off the steel. Aluminum lifts weigh less than galvanized steel lifts as aluminum is lighter than steel. Most lift manufacturers make aluminum boat lifts. The picture below is a rusting galvanized steel cradle. This will not happen with aluminum.


Can I raise the height of my boat lift top beams without changing my pilings as my lift is at an awkward height? 


Answer: Yes, a pile riser can be installed on top of the pilings. This allows the top beam on the lift to be raised. This allows for easier boarding of the boat as well as the ability to raise the boat further out of the water. The aluminum pile riser is bolted into the piling and serves as an extension of the piling.


Do you offer a routine service program for boat lifts and docks?


Answer: Yes, Stokes Marine offers a bi-annual service program for $400.00. Leave the servicing and maintenance of your lift and dock to the professionals. Be certain your lift is in great working condition when your boating plans are on the line.

When was the last time your lift was greased? Have you ever changed the belt on your drive unit? Are your pulleys rotating on your cradle ends or are they causing cable damage? Have your cables ever been changed?

Topics: FAQBoat Lifts

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