Skip to main content

Spring weather is wonderful, especially since it means boating season. However, that does you no good unless you can actually get your boat out on the water. Avoid the inconvenience of having your boat parked in your driveway and instead install a boat lift on your waterfront dock so you can enjoy all that the Okanagan Lake offers at your leisure.  

But how do you choose a lift? What should you know before buying one? We break down the most common types of lifts and answer those questions. 

Residential boat lifts on dock

Piling Mount Lifts 

Mounted directly to a fixed dock or pilings, these lifts are permanent additions. Because of the secure mounting, the dock needs to be strong enough to support this kind of boat lift and your boat. Usually, this means the custom installation of pilings.  

Most commonly powered by an electric motor, this kind of lift has the benefit of not requiring deeper water than that of the lift itself to lower your boat into the water.

We recommend four-post boat lifts for several reasons:

  • Weight: Four post boat lifts accommodate boats with a weight greater than 6,500 lbs.
  • Water depth: If the lakebed drops off quickly, our concern is the ‘flex’ of the piles. A four-post boat lift will distribute the total load evenly, which helps restrain the flex piles in a lateral motion.
  • Future plans: There’s always the possibility of purchasing a larger boat in the near future. Therefore, this will eliminate the need to upgrade your current boat lift saving you money.
  • Stability: Pile-mounted lifts are stable and durable and withstand wind, waves, and boat impacts.
  • Safety: Hydraulics are sealed when in the ‘up’ position. Hydraulic cylinders and pumps are stored in a dry environment above water in a concealed lift tube so there’s no danger of them rusting or wearing down from being in the water.
  • Storage: Pile-mounted lifts keep boats out of the water, minimizing routine vessel cleaning for customers. They also remove the sinking risk that can occur with in-water mooring. Plus, boats can be stored on pile-mounted lifts year-round thus eliminating the need for winter storage.

General Tips for Choosing a Boat Lift 

Because lifts are more exposed to the weather and water it’s important to get one that is easy to maintain and will last.  

However, before you do that, you need to figure out some facts about your boatnamely the specifications. Boat lifts aren’t designed to be one-size-fitsall and if you plan on buying a new boat later on you may also want an adjustable boat lift to accommodate your needs. Find out the specs of your boat and whether or not you’ll need an adjustable lift. 

Do you prefer getting a small workout with minimal maintenance or easy access that’s automated? This will help you determine whether you want to go electric or manual. Although electric lifts are especially convenient, they also need special care and maintenance to ensure they continue to function properly, so keep that in mind. 

Here’s a handy quick tip: protect the cables of the lift by the occasional spritz of spray lubricant. Not only does this prevent your boat from jerking while coming up from the water, it also extends the life of your boat lift. The more friction on the cables (and the pulleys) the faster the parts wear down, and thus, your boat lift. 

If you already have a boat lift in mind, Shoreline Pile Driving supplies all kinds and offers installation, boat lift servicing, maintenance, and parts as well. 

Freestanding/Bottom-Standing Boat Lift 

fairly common type you’ll see, these lifts are installed adjacent to docks and rest on the bottom supported by its own legs. In areas where the ground is even and more firm these lifts are perfect. Softer ground will make installation more difficult and may require adjustment over time to ensure the whole lift doesn’t move.  

This type can be set up to lift boats manually, through an electric motor, or even hydraulics (although the latter tends to be less affordable)  

Floating Lift 

Slightly more uncommon, but easier to set up, floating boat lifts support boats on metal or plastic chambers filled with air. The chambers are flooded and sink below the surface to release the boat and stay submerged when you’re using your boat out on the lake. When you come back to your dock, you position your boat over the chambers. Electric pumps displace the water with air, the chambers start to float, and the boat is lifted above the water. 

Because the lift stays submerged while you’re out on the water, occasional cleaning of the chambers is needed to prevent marine growth and wear. 

Getting Boat Lift Maintenance Done

If you’ve already had a boat lift installed and need maintenance, Shoreline Pile Driving is offering two spring maintenance packages to get them ready and working properly.

For single-mast boat lifts Shoreline will do a full inspection including inspecting lift operation, piles and mounting hardware, nylon sheaves and mast, welds and risers, bunks, and side guides. We will also check the electrical pendant and swing arm, the hoist alignment, the chain, and the chain collector (and grease the chain components if needed). Plus, Shoreline will check the cotter pin, tabs, pulley, and spring block all for $249.00 (not including parts and labour).

For hydraulic and electric four-post lifts the package includes testing the battery and cleaning the battery terminals (if applicable), greasing and lubricating where necessary, and analyzing pulleys, cables, and sheaves. Shoreline will check limit switch functions, bunk mounts, the hydraulic fluid condition (their levels and top up with our Marinus Bio40 (2L)) and tighten the necessary bolts as well. Also included in the package is a comprehensive inspection of the lift operation, piles and mounting hardware, hydraulic lines, connection and fittings, and finally the control box fuse and wiring all for $379.00 (not including parts and labour).

Boat lifts are an excellent choice to avoid getting frustrated lining up the trailer at the boat launch or dealing with parking your boat in your driveway or street. They are convenient and prevent your boat’s underside from wearing down from just sitting in the water. 



Already have a boat lift? We can provide the necessary maintenance to ensure it works properly this boating season.