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How to Select a Pontoon Boat Lift

Suggestions on what to look for

September 2019 Feature

So you’ve finally decided you want one of those floating living rooms called a luxury pontoon boat, but aren’t sure how to properly and safely moor it? It used to be the only option was a sturdy rope and whatever part of the dock or pier was sticking out. Now, manufacturers offer lifts specifically for pontoon boats.

Luxury pontoon boats always have been decent sizes, but nowadays, newly manufactured ones are even larger. Today’s pontoons are getting longer, wider and heavier - meaning it just won’t work in terms of using a standard lift. Standard lifts are fine for older, traditional pontoon boats, but more recent models need a lift designed specifically for pontoons. Some luxury pontoon boats can be up to 30 feet long, so they need extra support, which standard lifts do not provide. If you try to put a huge pontoon boat on a standard lift, the boat will not be stable. Any vessel longer than 26 feet needs a lift designed for this length or longer.

When deciding which lift to purchase, choose one that easily handles the weight of your watercraft. Do not let anyone tell you a lift designed for 4,000 pounds is appropriate for a 4,200-pound vessel. Also factor in the weight of anything you might bring aboard. If your pontoon boat is 4,000 pounds without anything in it, you need to get a lift to accommodate a greater weight. Some of today’s pontoons weight up to 7,000-pound boats and necessity a lift designed for their weight and weight distribution.

Also, look for a lift that offer quiet operation winch when purchasing a pontoon lift. Nothing is less fun than missing hearing someone yell, “Watch out!” because you couldn’t hear him or her over the winch spinning or motor running. ShoreMaster exclusively manufactures the Whisper Winch, which is the industry’s quietest winch operation system and also offers remote or wireless electric motor options.

An aluminum lift frame is resistant to corrosion and wear and is a lighter weight than non-aluminum framing. Welded aluminum provides superior strength, and there are minimal nuts and bolts to worry about tightening after rough seas on a windy day. A welded aluminum pontoon lift is easier and quicker to assemble than a traditional lift, giving you more time to hang out on the boat instead of the dock. Boat owners also won’t have to concern themselves with rusted and corroded hardware. Some pontoon lifts, such as ShoreMaster’s, have a double V-side design, allowing you and your guests to easily get in and out of the boat without having to perform a Rockette’s style high kick.

Avoid sling-style lifts, which support pontoon boats from above. This goes against gravity and can result in damage to the pontoons themselves. For those with docks in deeper water, pontoon lifts should have adjustable legs to accommodate water level fluctuations. Take into account the boat’s draft when determining how high a lift you need.

A pontoon lift should come with a motor stop specifically for pontoon boats. You don’t want to overshoot the lift. Make sure the motor stop has a bumper so the boat does not get scratched. For another layer of protection, invest in a canopy cover that is deep enough to protect your boat — especially if you own a luxury pontoon boat with expensive seats and interior.

ShoreMaster has designed and built a line-up of vertical lifts specifically designed for today’s larger pontoons. The ShoreMaster 4,000 and 5,000-pound capacity pontoon lifts have an inside width of 120 inches, an overall width of 132 inches, and an overall length of 62 inches. All three models have a lift travel of 66 inches. The 7,000-pound capacity pontoon lift has an inside width of 132 inches, an overall width of 144 inches, and overall length of 216 inches. All models come with a built-in guide system, and a canopy cover is available for each model. If you are unsure as to which model you need, contact ShoreMaster for customized assistance.

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