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Old 18-04-2018, 08:48   #1
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Forklifts versus cradles

I am planning to get a 33-foot boat which weighs about 18,000 pounds. The manufacturer recommends storing the boat in a cradle of specific dimensions. How does this work with regards to the boatyard?

In the ideal world, what I would imagine is that the boat is lifted from the water with straps and a movable hoist. Then it is let down into the cradle. Then the cradle is lifted by a forklift and moved to the storage location, which may be a rack.

Is that how it works?

When I talked to the boatyard, I got the impression they move the boat directly with the forklift (no cradle). This obviously has the problem that the dimensions of the forklift arms will not be the same as the recommended cradle dimensions. Also, what does the forklift set it down into in the rack if there is no custom cradle? If the rack just has a generic cradle, then it will not match the recommended angles and distances.

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Old 18-04-2018, 08:53   #2
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Re: Forklifts versus cradles

I've only ever seen boatels move boats by forklift direct from water to rack. The ranks seem to have bunks, presumably adjustable for boat width, similar to the way some boat trailers can work.

I'm not very familiar with it, though, so that's just from occasional casual observation...


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Old 18-04-2018, 09:40   #3
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Re: Forklifts versus cradles

The boatyard is not going to build a cradle specifically for your boat. I even doubt they would let you build one, and then do the two-step like you mention. If your boat is rack stored, then they lift it out of the water with a fork-lift, and put it directly into the rack. They do adjust the racks for proper fit with different boats.

At least, that's the way it is done here in Florida. Of course, in other parts of the world, they may do things completely differently. I would be very surprised, however, if it is done any differently in Boston than it is done here.
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Old 18-04-2018, 10:13   #4
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Re: Forklifts versus cradles

Usually rack stored boats just have 2 bunks that can move in and out that's it. same with the forklift they can adjust the distance between the bunks and that's it. I used to work at a yard that did that not a big deal most boats didn't seem to care. As mentioned it's similar to how a trailer would hold it.
There are some yards that put boats in cradles and I have done it for customers but only for winter storage not for an in and out service. One yard I worked at we had 5-6 customers with custom cradles for winter storage. We would bill them a storage fee for the summer then drop the boat in the cradle with the travel lift for the winter. We normally did not move the boat after we dropped it in the cradle but they do make cradle moving trailers.
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Old 18-04-2018, 10:43   #5
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Re: Forklifts versus cradles

My boat also weighs in at 18k pounds. The boat came with a cradle, consisting of a frame with what looks like 4 attached jack stands.

The yard has indicated that they prefer to move/position boats indoors while they are sitting on their cradles using a forklift.

The yard is quoting me for the addition of more pads to the cradle. They will be procuring/fabricating/welding the extra pads. I suspect that they could easily fabricate a new cradle, or re-purpose an abandoned one to fit a different boat.
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Old 19-04-2018, 15:08   #6
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Re: Forklifts versus cradles

My boat yard pulls boats out with a forklift. Most go on cradles, mine is stored in my custom cradle. Those that own trailers go directly onto the trailer and then out to storage. Racked power boats go by forklift to their assigned configured rack

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cradle, lift

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