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Old 02-28-2015, 02:22 PM   #1
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Boat Lift vs Wet Slip

We are buying a 1988 35 ft Luhrs Alura and are weighing the pros and cons of installing a boat lift vs wet slip and are looking for advice. Either option will be at our private pier in our backyard on a creek off the Chesapeake. The boat is in great condition and has been bottom painted annually with Pettit Hydrocoat and wet slipped locally for the past 9 seasons. Over a ten year period (our expected ownership of the boat) the cost of installing the lift vs wet slip/hauling/bottom painting/winter storage annually is fairly even. Here are some issues we've been considering...

- Will wet slipping for the next 10 years increase our odds of hull/bottom issues compared to being out of the water on a lift. Boats are meant to float, right

- On the lift we will not be able to run the air conditioning to keep the humidity down in the cabin. Should that be a concern?

- We have always had smaller outboard runabouts on lifts so are not familiar with the chores associated with wet slipping. Is it a much bigger head ache? Does it add much more risk to the boat?

- If we keep it on the lift should we still bottom paint every few years? What affect does being exposed to air instead of water have on that ablative paint?

- What winterizing logistics should we consider for staying on the lift all winter vs placing on the hard?

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:29 PM   #2
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Boat lifts appear to be a uniquely SE US thing. I've never seen then anywhere else. I'd be interested to hear what motivates their use.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:11 PM   #3
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We were on St Maarten recently and saw several larger boats ~32' on lifts. I'm not sure why it is so popular there, but it was.


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Old 02-28-2015, 04:23 PM   #4
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My experience is they are catching on rapidly.

Many along the whole ACIW....even where I am from in NJ up to 40 footers are ganging high and dry.

Certainly much less involved if they are factored into new construction...plus the environment mental organizations that approve docks may prefer them to fixed/floating docks.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:36 PM   #5
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Whoa, this is a big discussion. There are huge factors all the way though this one!
For starters a 35ft is a big heavy boat for a lift. The boat has to always sit correctly in it. Or you can damage to the GRP . Incorrect point loading can cause lots of semi hidden problems. The positive side is the benefit of low osmosis. A boat can pick up 2-5% of its weight in water sitting in a wet slip year round over the years. This is dependant on laminate schedule etc. It would be easy to plumb a dehumidifier in to the boat/hoist instead of a air-con.I have customers who just use a small humidifier and the boats smell sweet. You have sea water areas of the engine suffering the corrosion from the boat seawater draining out and leaving drying / salt deposits etc. Paint wise if the boats hauled after use occasional power wash is fie to remove slime etc. Having clean props and bottom is a plus on performance etc. Just a few quick thoughts to start the discussion!
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:38 PM   #6
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I keep my 50' Cheoy Lee in Sint Maarten. The lifts are there because of severe fouling in the lagoon (barnacles in a week) and the hurricane's. That 5-6ft above the water is a huge safety margin.
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Old 02-28-2015, 07:30 PM   #7
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No point bottom painting if the boat stays less than a week in the water. In a perfect world, setting the boat up where you can close the seacock, hook up a hose and fresh water flush the system for a minute after each use would be really slick. Make sure the boat is lifted high enough. Lots of stories of boats floating off there lifts during high water storm tides.

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Old 02-28-2015, 09:19 PM   #8
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I keep my 50' Cheoy Lee in Sint Maarten. The lifts are there because of severe fouling in the lagoon (barnacles in a week) and the hurricane's. That 5-6ft above the water is a huge safety margin.

Martin,
I wondered if that might be why. Any ideas as to why that area would have such a problem? Awesome Island by the way!


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Old 02-28-2015, 09:48 PM   #9
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Along the AICW, lifts are used not only for storm/bottom growth protection but for protection from the large number of wakes from boats transiting the AICW.

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Old 02-28-2015, 10:16 PM   #10
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Maybe the reason you never see them in the northeast or PNW is because of the larger tides?
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Old 02-28-2015, 10:29 PM   #11
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That's a real point. I know just from using the lift here in Fla. I have a small Center Console on it that every time we go out I have to check the tide and make sure I leave it accordingly or I'll come back and the boat won't go on because the water dropped. Here were only dealing with 14-18 inches while the PNW is feet if I recall.
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Old 03-01-2015, 07:24 AM   #12
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You see a lot of them in parts of SC where the tides run 5 to 6 feet.

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Old 03-01-2015, 07:50 AM   #13
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You see a lot of them in parts of SC where the tides run 5 to 6 feet.
Would you say that 5-6' is a practical limit? Tides at home in New England are 10' at my house, and here in the PNW it's around the same, maybe a foot or two more.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:12 AM   #14
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Would you say that 5-6' is a practical limit? Tides at home in New England are 10' at my house, and here in the PNW it's around the same, maybe a foot or two more.
Possibly, but in extreme southern SC, where tides can run 8 or 9 feet, you can still see them.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:52 AM   #15
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Seattle- Lake Washington

There are tons of lifts on Lake Washington, in Seattle, but I don't recall seeing any boats over 30 feet on a lift.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:00 AM   #16
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I have my boat on a 40,000 lb lift. I didn't run any cost analysis before doing it. My reasoning is maintenance is much easier. Any bottom work can be done on the lift. Since I also have a roof over the slip, sun damage is also minimized.

I doubt that *my* lift setup will save me any money over the years, but *I* feel better seeing it high and dry and immune to weather. Also the boat stays cleaner etc. If cost is even close, I recommend you do it. Your boat will love you for it.

As to the notion that boats belong in the water, look at all the boats stored on land for extended times, does no harm if done correctly. Your lift installer "should" be experienced and you boat will sit well on it's bunks.

As to humidity and running a/c. I have never run a/c to keep humidity down. It's a BOAT, it's on the water, it's in a humid environment. I leave hatches cracked for air circulation, no fans or other means to keep it aired out. I doubt you will find a much better smelling "below decks", no mold or mildew etc, etc. I have been boating for over 50 years and have never run a/c to dehumidify. I run my a/c to keep us comfortable on hot days or sleeping.

Just my opinion and it is worth what you pay for it
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:12 AM   #17
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It's a BOAT, it's on the water, it's in a humid environment. ......... I have been boating for over 50 years and have never run a/c to dehumidify. I run my a/c to keep us comfortable on hot days or sleeping.

Just my opinion and it is worth what you pay for it
I love this! We tend to over think just about everything on this forum! (It is "entertaining" however.)
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:44 AM   #18
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Lifts are common in FL even for larger boats.


A dehumidifier works great to keep the boat dry not just for humid air but the occasional leaks from driven rain. Bottom doesn't need painting any where as often and clean props are a joy.


Galvanism, blistering threats etc are greatly reduced on a lift. More attention to priming of various water intakes is required.


In areas of freezing lifts are probably less common because of seasonal haul out and freezing tidal water lifting poles would destroy the lift.


In windstorms precautions against the lift swinging around and storm tided need to be considered.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:47 AM   #19
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Hi Steve
Usual problems of high nutrient enrichment, and poor waterflow. Coupled with warm shallow water.
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