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Figuring Out Your Capacity Needs

Correctly figuring out the capacity needed for your boat is important for the safety of your boat. It can also end up saving you money down the road. We have put together 4 steps to figure out what capacity would be good for you.

*One note before you start*

Boat lifts aren't designed for lifting humans and some people tend to underestimate how much weight even 2 or 3 people can add. We highly recommend not having people get on the boat while it is in the lift.

Step 1: Dry Weight

The dry weight of your boat is the weight of the boat as it is when it leaves the factory. So if an outboard motor is added later by a dealer then the dry weight of the boat will be the weight without the motor. However if a boat is an inboard then the motor is factored into the dry weight.

So how do you find the dry weight of your boat? There can be a few ways to find this information. If you have already purchased the boat or have owned it for some time then you may be able to find the dry weight of the boat in the owner's manual or other information given by the dealer or seller. Another way of finding this information is by looking it up online with a resource such as NADA, where you can search by make/model or by VIN number.

Once you have the dry weight of the boat you then have a ballpark figure for what lift you need and you can then move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Outboard Motor

If you don't have an outboard motor you can skip this step of the process as the weight of the motor is factored into the dry weight of the boat.

Finding the weight of your motor is similar to finding the weight of your boat. The information may be in the owner's manual but most likely you will be able to find the weight of the motor by searching online by year/make/model/horsepower.

This is an important step if you have an outboard motor because depending upon what motor/horsepower you have it could add up to 500lb or more to the total weight.

Now that you have the weight of your motor we can add everything else.

Step 3: Gas & Gear


A lot of boats have fairly big gas tanks, even newer pontoons can have tanks that are 30 gallons and larger. People sometimes don't factor this into the weight of the boat because they tend to underestimate how much gas weighs. After all, why would most of us pay attention to that, since it doesn't matter how much gas weighs when you put your car in the garage.

Gasoline weighs about 6 pounds per gallon. Therefore a 30 gallon tank can weigh about 180 pounds when full. Not an insignificant amount of weight when adding it to the overall weight. So adding the weight of a full tank of gas is always recommended when figuring out what capacity you need for your boat.


What we mean by gear is everything you bring on and keep on the boat. This isn't limited to just safety gear but could include anchors, fishing gear, coolers, fenders, boards, skis, etc...

While many of these things tend to be light by themselves, if you have enough gear on your boat you could be carrying around another 150-200lbs without realizing it. Again, not an insignificant factor when determining your capacity needs.

Step 4: Future-proofing

So after adding everything together you have figured out what capacity you need at a minimum. One thing to also note is that ShoreMaster boat lifts increase in capacity by 1,000lb at a time, and if you are nearing a certain capacity you may want to go for a lift that  is the next size up, in order to give you wiggle room in the future if you decide to get a bigger motor or start carrying more gear.

For example if you added everything up and you are looking at the total weight at being 3,890lb it may be a good idea to go for a 5,000lb capacity lift, as you are nearing the top end of the 4,000lb capacity. If you are certain of the weights that you added up then a 4,000lb capacity lift will function for you, but we recommend a higher capacity for safety and for future-proofing.

Another thing to consider is that if you think you may buy a bigger boat in the future you don't want to have to buy another lift as well. So this is another factor to consider when looking at boat lifts.

Still Have questions?

If you are uncertain about anything or have any additional questions we'd be happy to answer them. After all we understand this is an important purchase and we would want to make sure everything is answered and correct. You can submit a Boat Lift Interest form and input as much information as you can and we will get you the boat lift that's best for you.

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