Posted on August 19, 2021

What is the Minimum Water Depth for a Boat Lift?

How Deep of Water Do You Need For a Boat Lift?

Written by ShoreMaster Marketing

Having your own boat lift makes getting into and out of the water convenient: your boat will be on the water waiting for you instead of needing to be driven to a boat launch. It’s also a crucial part of preserving the value of your boat by lifting it out of the water when not in use, which keeps your boat in good repair.

The depth of your water is one of the most important pieces of information to figure out before you buy your boat lift. At ShoreMaster, we categorize average water depth into three categories—less than three feet, between three and nine feet, and greater than nine feet—and we have boat lift recommendations for all of them.

ShoreMaster Infinity TS9 Dock and Hydraulic Lift, PWC Lift


Less Than Three Feet

While most boat lifts need three feet of water to work with, there are options for those with shallower shores. A sling-style lift works better for shallow waters because it can compensate for the lack of depth.

The welded aluminum vertical lift that we pioneered and refined is a good choice for shallow shores because of its minimal maintenance, reliability, and time-tested design. Our pontoon boat lifts will also work in shallow water and offer stable support for today’s larger, more powerful pontoon and tritoon boats. Our drive-on PWC lifts make dry-docking personal watercrafts easy and convenient, and we especially like ShorePort because of its ability to attach to nearly any dock system.

Between Three and Nine Feet

You’re in a great position with a lot of options. Just about any boat lift system or port can work in the three- to the nine-foot range. At this point, it depends on other waterfront conditions. You’ll want a floating lift system if you get tides, heavy rain, melting snow, or very dry periods that can make your water level seriously fluctuate—it’s much harder to make adjustments when your boat lift is on legs or wheels. Floating systems are also better for electrical boat lifts because the electrical components are kept out of the water.

Greater Than Nine Feet

A floating dock system is essential for a deep-water boat lift because deeper water is harder on legs and pilings. You don’t have to worry about rough conditions, though, because a floating boat lifts self-level and gives you a docking location that’s just as stable as a standing or wheel-in sectional dock.

ShorePort also works well for very deep water because of its ability to attach to floating lifts. For PWC lifts, we also like the HydroPort series: Epic gives you a longer, wider design for today’s more powerful PWCs and a more stable platform and walkway for support; Extreme can attach to nearly any dock set-up with lots of anchorage and connection options, and Pro offers an affordable opportunity for owners of PWC that are shorter and under 1,600 pounds. For larger boats of nearly any type, the UltraLift series from HydroHoist is a popular corrosion-resistant lift series available in capacities from 4,400 to 32,000 pounds.

Boat Dock Questions?

ShoreMaster set the waterfront industry’s standard in reliability and performance. We pioneered the aluminum dime-welded boat lift and keep our eyes on the future of waterfront life and potential innovations. With four boat lift models to choose from that offer easy installation, ownership, and customization, along with a customer support team that can answer your waterfront questions, ShoreMaster is the right place to go with your dream shoreline plans. For more information from experts on your water, contact a local ShoreMaster dealer.