Garage Boat Hoist

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Blog entry by bch posted 12-02-2013 09:55 PM 7448 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
This Fall I hung my boat from the garage. It involved some two-by material and some ceiling joists, so I figured there was enough wood involved to merit a posting here. My goals behind the design were:
  • To keep costs low.
  • All components must be rated to withstand at least double the weight of the boat (150 lbs.).
  • Be safe for the household’s children.
  • All “failure points” should have redundant backups.

I started with 2×8 supports, which I cut to follow the form of the deck of the boat. I then ripped this down to about four inches to reduce it’s depth so that I don’t hit my head on it while it is up. The left over pieces were glued and screwed to the sides to further strengthen the support.

To these shaped supports I added padding to make up for any small errors in the shape and dowels to act as a guide while flipping and setting the boat onto the supports. Dowels were then added to aid us while we awkwardly position the boat onto the support. The bow support has dowels that will slide into the mast step (the hole the mast slips into) while the aft support has dowels at the sides of the hull.

The four support ropes are tied to the winch rope with bowlines. The main winch rope comes to the following block. The block is reinforced with two pieces of 3/16 inch steel recessed into a groove on both sides. The board is sandwiched between two of these pieces of steel. Originally I only had the board without steel. When I tested it (my son and I hung on the aft support, a total of 270 lbs), the eye deflected a bit in the board. This made me nervous, so I added the steel after the recommendation of a retired GM machinist and sailor friend of mine (thanks, Ivan!)

The main winch rope then comes down to this winch. (These replacement winches are surprisingly inexpensive—$20.) The winch mount is three pieces of old, dried out 2×4” of decreasing lengths forming a pyramid. These were squared, glued and screwed. The ‘L’ shaped piece on top of the winch is a lock that prevents my children from flipping the winch lever (“I wonder what this lever does?”) and lowering the boat to the ground (rapidly!). For now it is held in with two deck screws. As they get a little older it may be prudent to replace these with some screws that require security bits to remove.

All of the knots are tied with a buntline hitch, a security knot, and then the tailing end is seized. A “security knot” is just an overhand knot or “granny knot” to affix the trailing end of the rope so that it isn’t bouncing around and loosening the main knot. Given that I chose a buntline this was unnecessary as it tightens with pressure, but I enjoy the security it offered with little cost. These three together are most definitely overkill: the seizing alone would be enough to hold the boat. However, I wanted to learn how to seize rope, it didn’t take much longer or cost much, and I appreciate the extra safety given that children and cars will be underneath the boat. I don’t wish for my children to learn the law of gravity with this boat (for their own health, and, it’s a pretty boat, currently!).

Finally, I think it is worth noting that I drilled away the drywall so that I could clearly see the joist. By doing this I could ensure I drilled out the joist directly in it’s center. Without doing this I would not have been sure that I fully embedded the eye hooks into the joists. Had I guessed I might have drilled only into the side of the joist exposing half the eye hook to the “air” and I wouldn’t have “felt” this while drilling.

And now the boat hoisted. My winter parking spot is now available for my car!

  • All knots are tied twice; many are also seized. Now that the rope lengths are finalized and the supports and boat are level, providing I get around to it I will return and seize the remaining few I did not seize before.
  • Not shown are four extra eye bolts and two ropes swung under the boat after it was hoisted to catch the boat in the event an eye hook fails.
  • A friend noted that my lock is not redundant. I immediately realized this would be easy to remedy. I will tie a rope from the bowline to an eye hook to prevent the boat from lowering in the event someone removes the ‘L’ shaped locking piece without my knowledge. This will make the lock redundant.
  • I can just barely walk under the supports without hitting my head (it does touch my hair!) and even though the support is only 4 inches of spruce, it is three of them thick, so I believe this to be redundant and should protect against a weakness in the board’s grain at an “eye” or other such flaw in the boards that make up the supports.

So, a resounding success!

I would like to briefly mention rope quality. I was encouraged by some friends to buy “real” rope. I had originally planned to use 3/8 in. twisted nylon rope from the local big-box store for under $30. It was rated to withstand 360 pounds. However, my knot book says that all rope loses about half of it’s rated capacity once you tie a knot in it, so that would put that rope at a mere 180 pounds capacity. The boat weighs 150 pounds without including the weight of the supports or screw eyes. This would violate my design goal of having every piece be rated at least twice the boat weight (150 X 2 = 300 lbs). I went to my local marine supply retailer and purchased 'real' rope. 100 feet cost me a whopping $70, but it is rated to 4,400 pounds! That is not a typo: over four-thousand pounds! Trust sailors when it comes to rope (parden me, “line”!).

So if you will be building anything heavy to hoist, please purchase “real” rope.

-- --bch

8 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19766 posts in 2947 days

#1 posted 12-02-2013 11:43 PM

Nice write up!
When it comes to safety, especially when kids (or MYSELF) are involved…
Redundancy and “over-engineering” should be SOP!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View bch's profile


296 posts in 2961 days

#2 posted 12-03-2013 03:25 AM

Thanks DIYaholic! I had a great time with this build, and I agree about the safety—it’s just not hurting a sailboat! ;-)
I have some “would have done” ideas after putting it up, which I might add to the post in the coming weeks. Take a look in a bit… I think I’ll likely edit the posting.
Thanks! I had a great time with this design and build process.


-- --bch

View stefang's profile


16394 posts in 3606 days

#3 posted 12-03-2013 01:44 PM

Nicely done and the safety aspect handled extremely well too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View bch's profile


296 posts in 2961 days

#4 posted 12-03-2013 02:00 PM

Thanks stefang! I appreciate your comment. Best,

-- --bch

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2522 days

#5 posted 12-03-2013 02:09 PM

Great project and nice writeup!

-- Rex

View bch's profile


296 posts in 2961 days

#6 posted 12-05-2013 04:02 AM

Thanks DIYaholic! I had a great time with this build, and I agree about the safety—it’s just not worth damaging a fine sailboat! ;-)
I have some “should have done” ideas after putting it up, which I might add to the post in the coming weeks. Take a look in a bit… I think I’ll likely edit the posting.
Thanks! I had a great time with this design and build process.


-- --bch

View bch's profile


296 posts in 2961 days

#7 posted 12-05-2013 04:05 AM

A fellow sailor at the club saw the posting and had some great ideas for anyone following in my footsteps. Anyone doing so should strongly consider both of his ideas for improvement. Thanks, Doug, for the great ideas!


Your Laser hoist and posting is great! Very well done. This so much reminds me of my Laser hoist I had to do with my first Laser in order to share indoor storage with my mother’s car… J Per your request, I can’t say I have any “constructive criticism” because you did such a good job with this. But I will offer some ideas for you if you have to do this again. Based on new materials, rather than drilling /tapping the i-bolts into the joist, what about wrapping the joist with strapping or some of the new lines (Dyneema & Vectran). These are stronger than steel and easy to work with. And not drilling a hole will also not comprise the strength of the joist.

I was also very impressed with your custom shaped cross member supports. Very nice. However, if you were concerned with the strength of these what about drilling a hole in the ends where the eye bolts are and routing a groove along the bottom of the cross member. This would provide for a single line to be passed completely under the boat / cross member beam and provide the safety catch you were looking for without increasing the size/weight/cost of the cross member. These are my only two ideas / suggestions on your very well done project. Again, just ideas in case you have to construct another boat hoist. Thanks for sharing.


-- --bch

View mafe's profile


11779 posts in 3361 days

#8 posted 12-08-2013 09:15 PM

I was through this in mi x’es garage a few years back, to hang my two kayaks.
You made a really cool setup there.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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