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Vol 43 | 2018 Winter Issue | Jan 1, 2018

2017 Year in Review “Hunting and Fishing the Chesapeake" The Galley Chum Lines ASMFC Approves Cobia Plan Fish Stories Maryland Boaters Can Now Renew Their Vessels Online Maryland Sets 2018 Summer Flounder Season, Size and Creel Limits NOAA Sets Blueline Tilefish Regulations Recreational Black Sea Bass Fishery Closes Effective Jan. 1, 2018 Recreational Fishing Participation Increases Nearly 20% Over Past 10 Years Ship To Shore Thinking about buying a boat lift? Here's all you need to know. Issue Photos
Thinking about buying a boat lift? Here's all you need to know.

Article by Ocean City Boat Lifts & Marine Construction

What should you look for when choosing an installer? Is there a professional organization?

Yes, there is, the Maryland Marine Contractors Association. You should always ask an installer to see their showroom or parts inventory, so that you are comfortable that they have the parts on hand to make any emergency repairs.

What is the advantage of installing a boat lift?

The boat lift prevents the need for bottom paint on your boat, which increases the speed of your boat and lowers your fuel cost. Also, the customer can winterize their boats right on the lift, saving storage and towing fees. They also don’t need to spend money on a boat trailer that ends up sitting in their yard like a lawn ornament. For boat owners who live out of town, a boat lift keeps their boat safe while they are away. Overall, a boat lift will pay for itself by keeping maintenance and repair costs low and providing a higher resale value.

How do I determine what size boat lift I need?

Everything depends on the weight of the boat.

What is the typical cost of installing a boat lift?

The first cost is permits. They vary depending on the area and work being done, but on average, permits for a boat lift in Worcester County, Maryland take 4 to 6 months to get and cost between $900 and $1,750. In Ocean City they are about $200 more. In Delaware the cost varies depending on if you are on a canal or open waterway, so there are several variables involved in the permit process.

You also need to run electricity to operate the boat lift and have a licensed electrician sign off on the permit. Your final cost is the purchase and installation of your boat lift. Our most popular lifts run about $7,000 to $10,000, but we also carry both less and more expensive lifts to meet the needs of each customer and their boat.

Do I need to have any additional work done before the boat lift is installed?

Before the installation of your lift, you will need to make sure you have the necessary pilings installed.

If I have two boats, can I use one motor to alternate between 2 lifts?

In some cases, yes. It really depends on the location of the lift and the boats.

Can boat lifts be installed over the winter?

YES! That is the best time to get a boat lift installed. We are out of our peak sales and emergency repair season.

How long does it take to complete the installation?

Well, permits take about 4 to 6 months, and if we have good weather we can put in a boat lift in 1 to 2 days after the piling work is complete.

What is the life expectancy of a boat lift?

Throwing away old galvanized rust buckets is 60% of our business. You are putting a large piece of equipment in the worst environment possible. In the long run, quality costs less. The oldest lift I have can be seen across Rt. 90 bridge. It is 17 years old, still operational, in excellent condition and looks almost new.

Most galvanized lifts have a 5-year structural warranty and rust is not included. Aluminum lifts have a 10-year structural warranty and generally will last longer than that. The 6061T6 Alcoa grade aluminum that we use comes with a 15-year structural warranty.

How many different styles of boat lifts are available and how do I know which one is right for me?

Your marine contractor will help you decide which size and style you need for the type of boats and/or water toys that you have or expect to collect in the next few years. That is one thing customers ask a lot. Can they somehow upgrade the lift to a larger one, and the answer is NO! My number one question to ask our customers is, “How big is your next boat?. This way our customers can plan ahead and save thousands of dollars in permit fees, new construction, and a new boat lift.

Are there any add-on options available that improve a typical boat lift?

The number one item has to be a remote control with “auto stop”. It should be required by law that boat lifts come with them. The last thing you are thinking about when your granddaughter falls overboard is turning off the motor to your boat lift. When you have equipment that lifts thousands of pounds, if it is not turned off properly, bad things will happen. Serious damage is caused when a lift isn’t shut off will end up costing more than the remote control.

Our most popular add-on items for boat lifts and dock accessories are catwalks for washing the outside of your boat, a stern service platform for ease in servicing the motor, fish cleaning stations, retractable ladders and the Swiftshield by Sunstream boatlifts (which has a great web site with a video clip worth watching; http://sunstreamcorp.com).

Besides the cradle design, are there any other differences between boat lifts for a mono hull, cat hull, or pontoon?

We do have special hull supports for pontoons. Pontoon boats are very popular in Ocean City. The lifts that you see that have wood hull supports with indoor/outdoor carpeting covering them will ruin the bottom of your pontoon boat. We see this every day. Our lifts have aluminum hull supports and will not damage your boat or rot like the wood with carpet.

How do I know if the boat lift was installed correctly?

The most important thing to do is to check if your electrical works. Make sure it is encased in conduit, carflex, and has compression fittings.

What is the maintenance schedule for a boat lift? Are annual inspections needed?

Yes, your lift should be serviced once a year. We offer a regular maintenance contract to our customers.

What are some common questions customers have asked you about new boat lifts?

“I just bought a bigger boat, can my lift be upgraded to hold the new one?” -NO!

This is why our number one thing to ask is “How big is your next boat?”. We want to save our customers time and expense by helping them plan for their future boat or water toys, avoiding unnecessary delays or expense. We see it every day, people will tell us they hate kayaks and don’t need space on the lift for one, then soon enough they call back and say that their son-in-law wants one!

Another question I hear a lot is, “Why do you recommend a lift larger than what the manufacturer states the boat weighs?” This is because the boat is not lifted proportionally (most of the weight is in the stern) and when you add in the weight if the batteries, fuel, motors, and people your total is considerably more than the listed manufacturers’ weight.

Randy Warden, Jessica Short and Kirby Short are owners of Ocean City Boat Lifts & Marine Construction

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