5 Helpful Tips for Loading and Positioning Watercraft on a Boat Lift

Once the water calls, it’s almost impossible not to drop everything you’re doing and hit the lake on your boat. But if you’re new to the boating life, and you haven’t had the chance to master the art of using your new boat lift, the thought of returning your boat to the lift may dampen the excitement.

Tips for loading and positioning watercraft on boat lift - Shoreline Pile Driving

In the era of information, there are so many ways to find tips and helpful hacks for loading a lift. You may even be able to find some helpful tutorials on YouTube, but the tips and tricks below from our boat lift professionals will likely provide a little more insight.

Here’s what you need to know:

Tip #1: Know your lift

Not all lifts are the same. Boat lifts for pontoon boats can vary greatly from custom boat lifts. Knowing the configuration of your lift will go a long way in helping you park your watercraft upon it. After your lift has been installed, ask the installers what the best practices are for loading up. They’ll be able to tell you where the boat needs to go on the cradle so that the weight is distributed evenly. By ensuring your boat is parked properly, you’ll prevent damage and costly repairs.

Know your lift before loading and unloading boat off - Shoreline Pile Driving

Tip #2: Check your speed

When approaching your dock and lift, it’s important to approach at a reasonable speed. If you go too quickly, you may bump into the dock or lift, causing damage. You may also create too much wake, which will push you off course. If you go to slow, you may not be able to control your boat, especially during a windy day. We recommend employing short bursts of power. This will help you easily maneuver your boat into the cradle.

Tip #3: Practice your positioning

If you’re not as experienced at the helm as you’d like to be, that’s OK. It may be a good idea to practice pulling your boat up alongside the dock several times before you try and position it in the lift. Our boat lift experts recommend turning the wheel in the direction you’d like to go before pushing the throttle forward. This can prevent you from moving too fast forward or backward.

Tip #4: Watch for wind

When the wind picks up in the valley, it doesn’t take long for white caps to come along and make things choppy. This scenario can also make putting your boat on the lift much more challenging. If you can’t seem to stay straight with the wind blowing around you, it may be worth tying the boat to the dock and trying again once the wind has died down. When in doubt, wait it out.

Tip #5: Master the momentum

Because boats glide across water, they typically have a lot of momentum when they’re in motion. An experienced boat operator knows how to use that momentum to their advantage. If you’re not familiar with your boat’s momentum, we recommend practicing out on the water. Once you’ve mastered the momentum of your boat, loading it onto your lift will be much easier.

It’s also important to service your lift annually. You can master the art of loading your lift, but if you don’t service your lift annually, you may not have a lift to load.