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Lifting small boats

Crane hire for lifting small boats

There are usually two key times in the year for boat owners: spring, when their pride and joy can be put back into the water ready for the coming season; and autumn, when the weather closes in and it is time to do essential maintenance, ready for next year. At these times, having a trusted mobile crane operator is important.


‘’The most cost-effective option for you is to get together with other owners to lift several boats on the same day – sharing the crane hire costs. You may be surprised at how economical it is.’’


Taking care of the boat as it is lifted

A boat is a surprisingly robust vessel, having said that, damage can easily occur if insufficient care is taken when it is being lifted in and out of the water.


The basics are obvious:


  • Padded strops and slings will conform to the shape of the boat and protect its surface finish during the lift. All good mobile crane operators will have these available.


  • If removing the boat from the water, its new position must be prepared in advance – this could be on a lorry, a trailer, a cradle or on the ground. The new support must be stable and capable of holding the weight securely in place.


  • Both tide tables (in coastal marinas and river estuaries) and the weather forecast should be consulted in advance – in this particular instance is it better to position the boat at low tide or high tide and are there likely to be high winds on the day of the lift? Most rivers are only tidal where they meet the sea but they could be affected by heavy rain or flooding further upstream altering the flow of the water.


  • There must be a firm platform next to the water to give the crane a solid base. Carter Crane Hire can provide ‘grillage’ (heavy hardwood beams)and packing that can be placed under the crane’s ground support mats to level sloping surfaces because a crane can be several tonnes and cannot sit on an unstable surface without support.


  • There must be sufficient space for the crane to operate safely, so a clear area should be provided wherever possible. That said, professional crane operators are used to working in confined spaces and can often negotiate obstacles.


  • A full lift plan must be in place and the whole lift team must be aware of their individual responsibilities. The Lift Plan will take into account all of the characteristics of the particular job including overhead obstructions, working space and distances. The Appointed Person will have recommended the correct size of crane to lift the boat safely over the required distance.


  • Marinas and boatyards can be busy places with a lot of contractors and boat owners around. Therefore, the area where the crane is operating should have an exclusion zone placed around it to protect those people as well as the lift team – this is a requirement of the HSE that cannot be ignored.


  • Water – this is one of the biggest potential risks. If the lift should fail either the boat or the crane could end up in the water. Maybe not such an issue for the boat if it lands the right way up, but catastrophic for the crane and its operator. This is another reason for ensuring that an experienced contractor is used, the Lift Plan is robust and that safety measures are followed to the letter.


You should not get the impression that any of the above points are particularly unusual – the professional Lift Team at Carters Crane Hire are well used to lifting boats in similar situations all the time and take this sort of operation in their stride.


If you would like more information on lifting small boats please contact us or telephone us on 01395 446 446 – we would love to hear from you.

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Carter Group, Hill Top, Budleigh Hill, East Budleigh, Devon. EX9 7DT. T: 01395 446446,  E: info@cartergroup.co.uk    | wix