What do you use to get your jet ski out of the water at your home or marina? You use a lift. A PWC lift, hoist, or drive-up floating lift, all do the same thing, get your craft out of the water.
There are several reasons you want to keep your machine out of the water, but here are the big ones.
- Keeps it from sinking, they don’t have bilge pumps on many models.
- Stops a lot of the corrosion.
- Keeps scum and debris off the bottom of the hull.
- Makes it harder for animals to eat your machine, muskrats love the rubber hoses at the jet pump.
- Helps stop the unit from getting damaged during a heavy storm, compared to leaving the PWC floating in the water.
Even the manufacturers agree, it’s best to keep your skis out of the water when you’re done riding for the day. It won’t hurt to leave the jet ski in the water for a few days, so long as it’s fresh water, but it’s a big no-no for saltwater. But if ask me, I agree with the manufacturers, get your jet ski out of the water for storage.
What Are The Types Of PWC Lifts?
There are two major types of PWC lifts, the drive-up and hoist.
There is a wide range of variations for these two types of lifts, ranging from professionally made to homemade options. Additionally, there are various models of hoists available; some are designed to lift a single ski, while others can raise an entire platform of jet skis.
The drive-up lift is the most common lift you can get, and often the cheapest and easiest one too.
Just like the name suggests, you drive the whole waverunner up and on to the lift.
There are wheels on the lift that roll the waverunner onto and off the dock. You can see how easy it is to move it because of these wheels in the video below.
I find new owners are the most intimidated by drive-up lifts the most, as most fear they’ll overshoot it or crash. It’s a valid concern, and while it’s possible, it’s unlikely so long as you don’t go crazy and just use some sense.
When instructing individuals on using these ramps, I often notice that many do not apply sufficient gas. However, this is acceptable as you can simply roll back off and attempt again. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep the engine running until you come to a complete stop on the lift.
You will need a place to attach the drive-up lift, such as your dock, but you can get a few that are freestanding, but you still need to attach it to something like a pole in the water.
The next type of watercraft lift is a hoist, and it works by either electrical motor, compressed air or manual levers to physical lift the machine up in the air.
The hoist can also be customized by dock builders to fit whatever your needs. I had a few customers that built a whole floating platform that lifted their two jet skis up and down, similar to this video below.
If you got the money, the hoist is the best option. I would also consider a cover or roof over the jet skis to keep the sun from baking them and to keep water out of the footwells. Do you know the two worst things for a jet ski? Sun and water. Funny, but true.
The hoist is easier to use, but will require practice. To put the jet ski on the lift, you need the bunks of the lift just low enough that the jet ski can slide onto them but not come off. Then slowly you need to raise the lift, most of these electric lifts will have a key fob you use to raise and lower it. You will need to make sure the lift is centered on the lift, you don’t want the ski to fall off, especially with you on it. The hoist option needs more patience when using it, but overall is easier for most people.
You can get hoist in many options, some use a steel cable to lift all four sides of the lift. Some hinge in the video above, and some use air tanks to lift it up. Overall, they hoist the unit up and out of the water instead of driving up and out of the water.
Sometimes, the lift you need may not be so simple, so let’s discuss what lift you should get and why.
Pick One That Works For Your Home
When picking a PWC lift, it’s not always about what you think looks the best, but what will work for your home.
While I love the drive-up lifts, they won’t work if you have a lot of rocks around your lifts or on a cliff. I’ve had one customer who wanted the drive-up lift, but his dock was 20 feet in the air due to living on a cliff, so a special hoist was made for him. Was it more costly? Yes, but it was the only option.
What if you have to worry about an HOA? Sometimes a drive-up lift is the only option due to HOA or marina rules.
My personal favorite is the drive-up lifts because they’re the simplest and longest lasting option. You will need to practice, but if you can get one, I suggest getting one over a hoist.
How To Buy A PWC Lift
Every state and country will have different dealers and options for drive-up lifts. Here are a few that I know about and like the most.
DIY Lift Options, are they worth it?
There are some DIY jet ski lifts. Would I build one? It depends on the watercraft. A new 4-stroke, no, but an old 2-stroke I don’t care about and the land can support it, why not?
The main goal is to not keep a watercraft in the water for too long, so the best jet ski lift is simply a trailer.
A trailer is not an option for everyone, so people have gotten smart and built many DIY-lifts, and here are a few of them.
The only problem I have with DIY lifts is that you don’t see many people make them for modern FULL SIZED jet skis. Jet skis have gotten a lit heavier, except for the Spark or EX, so many of these DIY lifts I fear won’t work for anything built after 2010.
How Much Are PWC Lifts?
A drive-up lift costs anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on what you need. Even used drive-up lifts can cost $1,000 or more. Keep in mind, this price doesn’t always include installation charges.
Why are jet ski lifts so expensive? The biggest reason is that everything costs more, but for most people, the lifts will outlive the watercraft. Even used lifts hold their values very well, so long as the watercraft fits the drive-up lift and still floats, it’s good.
If you need a hoist, it’s not going to be any cheaper, and will often cost more than the waverunner or two that support it. A hoist will need construction and deck building experts to make sure everything is supported correctly and will work.