How To Put a Pontoon Boat on a Lift [Need a Lift?]

Hey there Pontooneer! You know the excitement that slaps you when it’s time to hit the waters on your boat. But, the excitement can be short-lived by the thought of putting your boat on a lift after enjoying the sun’s warmth far in the waters. The feeling can even be worse if you are a novice. 

If you are exhausted by the thought of securing your pontoon on a lift, you should worry no more because this post comes to your rescue! We will hold your hand along the way and show you how to put a pontoon boat on a lift. Stick around!

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How To Put a Pontoon Boat on a Lift

Types of Pontoon Lifts

Before we find out how to escape the intimidating process of parking your pontoon on a lift, let’s explore the different types of pontoon lifts available. 

There are mainly two types of pontoon lifts: freestanding pontoon lifts and floating lifts. Free-standing lifts are not attached to a dock. Instead, they stand alone beneath the water. This lift type is so heavy that you can’t move it from its original location once set.

The freestanding boat lifts are further classified into vertical and cantilever lifts. Cantilever lifts are suitable for water with shallow banks and too much sand at the bottom, and the vertical ones are ideal for fluctuating water level shores. 

On the other hand, floating boat lifts are best for salty water bodies. They keep your boat’s steel components above the water, securing them from rust.Floating boats are also categorized as air/water displacement and hydraulic floating lifts.

The air/water displacement works by using an electric blower that fills air into a toon set under the water, which lifts the boat. The blower directs the water flow into the toons again to deflate them and allow the boat back on the water. 

Factors To Consider When Putting Your Pontoon on a Lift

Before we tackle the real task-putting your pontoon on a lift, there are a few essential factors to note, failure to which you might fail in your endeavor. Check out below;

Watch Your Speed

Approaching the dock and lift at high speed may make things messy. It’s easy to bump on them and cause damage. On the other hand, a too low pace may also not get things done, especially when the wind is hitting strongly. So what’s the secret? It would help if you approached the dock and the lift at a reasonable speed to give you complete control of the boat, allowing you to maneuver it into the boat’s cradle. 

Take Note of the Wind

Heavy winds can make the process more challenging. When trying to put your boat on the lift and you notice the winds are too heavy and seem to sweep it away, it’s wise to tie it onto the dock before finding the bearing again.

Position Your Boat Correctly.

It’s always okay not to be perfect, especially if you are a novice. However, you might need to practice aligning your boat severally on the dock before directing it to its lift. Experts recommend that you turn the wheel in the direction you wish to take before pushing it forward to help you overcome the current and prevent moving back and forth too quickly. 

How To Put a Pontoon Boat on a Lift

Know Your Boat’s Momentum

Boats tend to have a lot of momentum while in motion since they glide across the water. Boating veterans master their boat’s momentum, allowing them to use it to their advantage. If you 

Understand boating; you know that it continues turning when you turn your boat. The same applies to its momentum-when it’s in motion, it remains in motion. As a driver, frequent practice on your boat’s speed will make the lifting process easy. 

Know Your Pontoon Boat Lift

Understanding your boat’s lift configuration will help you park your pontoon on it with much ease. But how do you get to know it? After installation, talk with the installers. Let them help you understand where the boat needs to come on the cradle for an evenly distributed weight. Take time to understand the best practices for the proper parking of the boat onto it.

Having known what to consider while parking your pontoon on a lift, we can now navigate towards the actual process. But remember, preparation is critical when planning to tackle any task, regardless of how simple or complex it can be. Read on to learn to put your pontoon on its lift in a few simple steps.

How To Put a Pontoon Boat on a Lift

Steps on How To Put a Pontoon on a Lift

Here is a surefire guide that will help you load your pontoon onto its lift, especially if you are not so sure;

1. Prepare by Lowering the Cradle.

As we mentioned earlier, preparation is vital before embarking on any activity. It would be best to prepare things to ensure the boat is ready for parking. Such things  include lowering the cradle and failure to which you can cause all kinds of damage to both the lift and your pontoon. 

Ensure the cradle is submerged beneath the water in wait for the boat. Let it remain submerged until you position your craft well, and you can lift it and the ship above the water.

2. Focus Your Boat Towards the Lift

Don’t mistake getting onto the lift at any angle; instead, line the boat directly to the ride. Get the boat’s center aligned to the center of the lift. This part may be challenging, but don’t panic; you will make it. 

It’s straightforward if your pontoon is fitted with a rack kit. It can help to guide your boat’s toons into the lift. But if your float doesn’t have them, you should not panic as you’ll always find other tricks that will help you glide your boat right into your; be watchful to find one.

3. Drift Your Pontoon Onto the Lift

With your pontoon directed to the lift, get it drifting onto it. The last push you gave it before changing your driving gear to neutral should be able to drive it right there. The drifting process can be troubling if the currents are not so friendly.

4. Identify a Significant Marker.

This part needs no expert knowledge. Many boaters identify and mark a part of their boat that, when it aligns with a specific part of the lift, they know that their boat is well parked. Most ships have some guide markers for this purpose. It would help if you only were keen to note what part stays where when the boat is resting well on the left. 

5. Distribute the Boat’s Weight Across the Lift

Before letting the engine rest, ensure the boat’s weight is evenly distributed on the lift. If you let too much weight lie on one part, the lift can break down, and you don’t want to know the damages that can result from this. If the boat is loaded, try distributing the luggage evenly to ensure all the weight is fully spread to stabilize the boat.

Mistakes To Avoid When Putting Your Boat on a Lift

If you are not careful, you can damage your boat or the lift. Be watchful of the following mistakes while loading your pontoon on the lift;

Exceeding the Weight Capacity

Exclusive testing to determine the weight of a watercraft a lift can withstand goes a long way in ensuring the safety of your pontoon. A little ignorance of the results can mess things up. Therefore, never add even a few more pounds to the lift’s weight capacity.

Consider the Lifting Height.

Once the lift is fully raised, end it at that. If you continue to exert pressure on the winch, you’ll incur stress on all the parts of the mechanism, which might cause damage or failure to some of these parts. You can avoid this by marking the height of the fully raised lift. 

Improper Loading

Improper loading is a common mistake among many boaters. Even though you want to avoid the waves as much as possible, loading your boat while still on the lift doesn’t make things any better. 

Instead, it would help if you lower the boat till it rests on the water to load it. Doing this allows you to determine your boat’s weight distribution. Also, if you want to pack your boat with some luggage while parked, you should load it when it still sits on the water and then raise the lift later. 

How To Put a Pontoon Boat on a Lift


You are now a pro! If you noticed, boat lifting calls for patience. You can’t learn the stuff in a single day. Like any other thing, frequent practice makes you a professional. All you need is patience and confidence. You also need to practice it in water with different conditions so that you’ll not be surprised when environmental factors change suddenly.

You’ve also seen that there are many aspects that influence how  you put your boat on a lift. Mastering these factors will see you become a veteran in no time.




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