Building a Small Boat Lift (Summer of 2006)

One of my neighbors had a problem with rainwater collecting in a small runabout and needed a way to fix it. He had an 11' Boston Whaler Tender that he winched clear of the water with two winches mounted on some 2x6's bolted across four pilings. The problem was that the boat only had two drain plugs, one at the back and another on the right hand side. The drain at the rear emptied most of the water, but if the boat wasn't tilted to the right a puddle would be trapped and would stain the boat.

Basically, the owner was having trouble making the boat consistently lean to the right to allow the trapped water to drain out. He did have one winch line longer than the other to make the boat tilt, but occasionally the lines would wind wrong and throw everything off. So, here's a design which allows you to change the tilt of the boat once it is winched up.

Hover over the picture to see the lift assembled. Click for a larger view.

So far I've made three of these setups for various people, and they all seem happy with it. Each version is different as it really depends on the boat. First, you need to install four pilings if you're building from scratch. Notch the tops of the pilings with a chain saw to support two 2x6's which should be bolted on. In the above diagram, the blue cylinders are pulleys. The two pulleys at the bottom attach to the boat with some hefty carabiners.

Leveling Handle Diagram

The real goal of the design lies with the orange handle between the three pulleys. It's just a rod with a handle welded on. Once the boat is winched up, you can turn that handle which takes slack from one side and transfers it to the other, thus tilting the boat. The rope simply makes a few wraps around the rod and friction keeps it from slipping.

Picture of the second lift I made

So to conclude, winch the bow higher than the stern to get water running towards the back. Winch up the back and then use the leveling handle to tilt the boat to whichever side your drain plug is on.