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Boatlifts Provide a Lift in Slip Revenue

By Glenn Hayes


There are many advantages to storing a boat on a lift, as opposed to in the water, yet very few marinas offer slips with lifts. While it is true that they are not appropriate for every application and every marina, they could provide a lift in revenue for some marinas (pun intended).

No Maintenance

The advantages to having a boat on a lift are numerous. The most obvious is the maintenance advantage. Because the boat is out of the water, it doesn't need bottom paint or bottom cleaning. Maintaining and cleaning boats is easier, and the boat engine sand all running rigging is out of the water, helping to preserve equipment. Intakes are not clogged with growth and related issues are avoided. Apart from the increased resale value of a boat stored above rather than in water, probably the biggest selling point for a lift is the reduced risk of sinking at the dock. With heavy rains and a dead battery, a vessel can easily fill with water and sink should battery levels be low or a bilge pump or float switch fail.

With all the advantages of a lift, boatlifts at marinas are a newer trend, and ShoreStation, a manufacturer of lifts and dock equipment, would like to bring them to more marinas. With a recently initiated marketing drive to install its new hydraulic lifts in marinas, the company is eager to show off the advantages of its capable lifts in commercial applications. The lifts, according to Eric Johnson, the vice president of sales and market development for ShoreStation, have many advantages over a traditional lift systems, namely its unique hydraulic design, which doesn't damage cables. A recent installation of multiple ShoreStation hydraulic lifts at Manteo Resort in British Columbia has proven the commercial viability of these lifts in a marina environment, and ShoreStation plans on pushing for more marinas to use its equipment by showing them off at upcoming shows, such as The Docks Expo and International Marina & Boatyard Conference (IMBC).

Hydraulic Lift

The ShoreStation FlexPower lift is hydraulic and utilizes a tandem hydraulic pump, which drives a patented lift system, eliminating cables that are wrapped around a drum or rod the way a traditional lift operates. This system pulls the cables over a pulley wheel, rather than winding them on a drum and eliminates the wear and tear on the cable. This system is a great choice for a marina looking for a low maintenance lift, Johnson said.

The system is engineered to lift both sides at the same time, eliminating the need to coordinate motors. This system also eliminates over-winding and unspooling of the cable when it goes slack. These lifts are available as a pile mounted version or a boathouse model where the lift mechanism can be hidden in the rafters or even below the dock decking. If marinas want a clean uncluttered look, this system fits the need.

One important feature of this hydraulic lift is the speed at which it operates. Capable of lifting a boat four to five times faster than a comparable pile mounted cable lift, it can run as fast as 96 inches in a minute. This has obvious advantages in high wind, waves or a fast moving tide. By driving the boat in to the lift and controlling the lift with one of two provided waterproof remote keypads a boat can be high, dry and docked in a fraction of the time of a regular lift.

Another unique feature of these innovative lifts is their FlexPower capability. Because it is a DC-powered system (possible due to the use of hydraulic pumps, rather than high amperage electric motors) if shorepower is not available, it can run off a battery system, eliminating those late night calls with power issues. No new electrical work needs to be installed to a slip, as the battery system is capable of being charged by a solar panel, making it completely self-contained and off the grid. Of course the lift's DC system can also be powered through standard AC and converted to DC, resulting in a low energy requirement and use.

Waiting List

Tony Marino of Marino's Marina in Ozona, Florida, can attest to the success of installing lifts at his facility. Installed prior to ShoreStation's development of its hydraulic lift, his traditional lifts have resulted in full slips with waiting lists for openings. He credits the installation of lifts in his slips for having survived the recession. Adding lifts in slips that were unrented during the tough years resulted in immediate occupancy and a growing waiting list. He now has 45 slips with lifts capable of handling boats from 6,000 to 25,000 pounds. With all of those fully rented and all with waiting lists, his only regret is he didn't have all the lifts installed earlier and all from the same manufacturer. He said maintenance and service would be much easier if they were all the same company. Marino also points out that customers tend to use their boats more and are happier with the lowered maintenance, over using a wet slip. He said instructing boaters on how to use them is a simple demonstration process and has not resulted in damage caused by misuse.

Marino even points out that lifts aid in the maintenance of the environment, as most marine life exists directly under the docks and boats stored on a lift are placed bow in, resulting in less disturbance to this marine life, than a boat kept in a wet slip that is traditionally kept stern in, with prop wash creating more of a disturbance.

Boat lifts can be a positive addition to marinas and can bring in additional revenue with minimal maintenance.