Title:
BOAT PORTAGE APPARATUS AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the present invention include a stationary boat lift in which boats can enter and exit quite readily. The boat lift allows a boat to bypass various barriers in a safe and efficient manner by orienting the boat in a direction substantially parallel to the barrier, vertically lifting the boat out of one waterway, laterally translating the boat horizontally over the barrier, and then vertically lowering the boat into a second waterway.



Inventors:
Bishop, Richard B. (Bradenton, FL, US)
Bishop, Charles L. (Ballwin, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/548490
Publication Date:
12/20/2007
Filing Date:
10/11/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
405/3
International Classes:
B63C3/04; B63C3/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MAYO-PINNOCK, TARA LEIGH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shutts & Bowen LLP (West Palm Beach, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for transporting a boat over a barrier juxtaposed to a first body of water, the method comprising the steps of: providing a base structure having a moveable lift frame and a moveable cradle assembly; positioning the moveable lift frame extending over the first body of water; positioning the moveable cradle assembly into the first body of water; maneuvering an associated boat into the moveable cradle assembly, wherein the starboard or port side of the associated boat is juxtaposed to the barrier; raising the moveable cradle assembly to lift the associated boat out of the first body of water and to an elevation that is higher than the barrier; translating the associated boat across the barrier.

2. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the step of: translating the associated boat across the barrier, comprises the step of: laterally translating the associated boat with respect to the associated boat's forward direction of travel.

3. The method as defined in claim 1, further comprising the step of: positioning the moveable lift frame and the associated boat over a second body of water; and, lowering the moveable cradle assembly to release the associated boat into the second body of water.

4. The method as defined in claim 3, further comprising the step of: releasing the associated boat into the second body of water wherein the starboard or port side of the associated boat is juxtaposed to the barrier.

5. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the step of: translating the associated boat across the barrier, comprises the step of: horizontally moving the moveable lift frame thereby translating the associated boat across the barrier.

6. The method as defined in claim 5, wherein the step of: horizontally moving the moveable lift frame thereby translating the associated boat across the barrier, comprises the step of: horizontally moving the moveable lift frame thereby translating the associated boat across the barrier and vertically moving the moveable cradle assembly to maintain a constant elevation above the surface of the barrier.

7. The method as defined in claim 1, wherein the step of: providing a base structure having a moveable lift frame and a moveable cradle assembly, comprises the step of: providing a base structure having a first frame section erected over the barrier and at least a second frame section cantilevered over the first body of water, the base structure having a moveable lift frame and a moveable cradle assembly;

8. A boat lift apparatus comprising: a base structure having a first frame section erected over a barrier wherein the barrier is juxtaposed to a first body of water, the base structure having a second frame section cantilevered over the first body of water; a lift frame operatively connected to the base structure; a cradle assembly including at least a first boat-support mechanism capable of receiving an associated boat for carrying the associated boat across the barrier, the cradle assembly being moveably connected with respect to the lift frame; and, a mechanism for actuating the cradle assembly.

9. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 8, wherein the lift frame is a horizontally moveable lift frame capable of traversing the second frame section; and further comprising: a mechanism for actuating the lift frame.

10. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the barrier separates the first body of water from a second body of water, and, wherein the base structure includes a third frame section cantilevered over the second body of water, and, wherein the horizontally moveable lift frame is capable of traversing the third frame section.

11. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 10, wherein the lift frame and the cradle assembly are capable of translating the associated boat across the barrier with either of the associated boat's port side or starboard side approaching the barrier.

12. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 10, wherein the horizontally moveable lift frame and the cradle assembly are capable of carrying and releasing the associated boat into the second body of water in a direction substantially parallel to the barrier.

13. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the horizontally moveable lift frame includes a guiding mechanism comprising one or more of: tracks, rollers, or bearings.

14. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the second frame section extends entirely above the first body of water.

15. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the at least a first boat-support mechanism comprises: a rigid non-water retaining boat sling connected to the lift frame.

16. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein the at least a first boat-support mechanism comprises: a flexible non-water retaining boat sling connected to the lift frame.

17. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 16, further comprising: weights attached to the flexible non-water retaining boat sling.

18. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 17, wherein the flexible non-water retaining boat sling includes one or more flexible straps for receiving the associated boat.

19. The boat lift apparatus as defined in 18, wherein the one or more flexible straps are selectively adjustable to receive one of first and second associated boats, wherein the first associated boat is substantially different from the second associated boat.

20. The boat lift apparatus as defined in claim 17, wherein the flexible non-water retaining boat sling includes a net for receiving and lifting the associated boat.

Description:

This utility patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/725,535 filed on Oct. 11, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. This application also incorporates by reference U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,457,904; 6,174,106; and 5,947,639.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The embodiments of the present invention relate to a lifting apparatus used to portage a boat. More specifically, the embodiments of the present invention relate to mechanisms and methods for lifting a boat out of a body of water and transferring the boat horizontally over a barrier.

BACKGROUND

In the context of this invention, “portage” means to carry a boat and/or its supplies overland from a first body of water, between two waterways or around an obstacle to navigation. Known within the prior art are devices for lifting boats out of water for such purposes as making repairs, protecting them from dock collision caused by tidal action, and mitigating or preventing damage to their hulls due to excessive water exposure. U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,914 describes and shows a boat lift that consists of a frame that cradles and lifts a boat from the water by means of a hydraulic ram. The device requires a person to enter the water to secure several members of the device around the bottom of the hull. U.S. Pat. No. 5,593,247 describes a programmable boat lift control system that with the push of a button causes the lift to either raise or lower the boat to a pre-programmed elevation.

Both of these devices are useful for their intended purposes, however, both are limited to lifting and lowering the boat in a vertical direction. Unfortunately, this was indicative of the general state of the art in boat lifting devices. The prior art fails to teach an apparatus that can lift and lower a boat in a vertical direction, as well as transfer the boat in a horizontal direction. Prior art references also fail to teach orienting a boat parallel to the barrier and then lifting the boat out of the water. By orienting a boat parallel to the barrier it is meant that the starboard or port side of the boat is juxtaposed to the edge of the barrier. Applicant has discovered the need to transfer boats over barriers, from one body of water to another. Notably, in many areas, salt water and fresh water are separated by various types of barriers, such as water divider walls and land barriers. Often barriers are needed to separate fresh from salt water due to the various types of organisms, plants, and animals that can survive only in one type of environment, i.e., either in salt or in fresh water, but not both. Regardless of the need to isolate salt from fresh water, boats and other water vehicles frequently require access to, from, and between separate water bodies.

A novel approach to prior art inventions includes a lifting apparatus that allows an operator to orient their boat sideways in relation to the lifting apparatus and/or barrier (i.e., perpendicular to the line of travel). In this fashion, the boat will be easier to maneuver and control. Also, for many boats, the hull shape would suggest that its center of gravity will be positioned more appropriately. Therefore, there is a need to provide a lift that allows a boat to be oriented in a sideways manner relative to the barrier and to portage the boat in that direction (i.e., star-board-to-port or vice versa).

SUMMARY

In one embodiment of the present invention a boat lift includes a base structure having a first frame section erected over a barrier wherein the barrier is juxtaposed to at least a first body of water. It is noted that the barrier may also separate two bodies of water or an obstacle to navigation in the water. The base structure may also include a second frame section cantilevered over the first body of water, and a lift frame operatively connected to the base structure. A cradle assembly, including a cradle support and/or boat sling capable of receiving an associated boat for carrying the associated boat across the barrier, is moveably connected to the lift frame and more specifically to the base structure. A mechanism or actuator for actuating the cradle assembly is also incorporated into the boat lift.

One aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes a horizontally moveable lift frame capable of traversing the second frame section, and a mechanism for actuating the lift frame.

Another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes the base structure having a third frame section cantilevered over a second body of water where the horizontally moveable lift frame is capable of traversing the third frame section.

In yet another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention the lift frame and the cradle assembly are capable of translating the associated boat across the barrier with either of the associated boat's port side or starboard side approaching the barrier. The horizontally moveable lift frame and the cradle assembly are capable of carrying and releasing the associated boat into the second body of water in a direction substantially parallel to the barrier.

Still another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes a boat lift apparatus having a non-water retaining boat-support mechanism that includes one or more flexible straps for receiving the associated boat, wherein the one or more flexible straps are selectively adjustable to receive one of first and second substantially different associated boats. The non-water retaining boat-support mechanism may also include a net for receiving and lifting the associated boat.

In another embodiment of the present invention a method for transporting a boat over a barrier juxtaposed to a first body of water includes the steps of providing a base structure having a moveable lift frame and a cradle assembly, positioning the moveable lift frame extending over the first body of water, positioning the cradle assembly into the first body of water, maneuvering an associated boat into the cradle assembly, wherein the starboard or port side of the associated boat is juxtaposed to the barrier, raising the cradle assembly to lift the associated boat out of the first body of water and to an elevation that is higher than the barrier, and translating the associated boat across the barrier.

After the boat has entered the boat lift it may be positioned over a boat-support mechanism. This means of support could be adjustable, such as a set of two or more nylon straps. However, it is contemplated that alternate supporting mechanisms could be used including a heavy gauge net and/or a rigid cradle assembly. In employing straps, one strap may be located near the bow or front portion of the boat while another strap may be located near the stern or rear portion of the boat. A motor and cables may be used to lower or raise the cradle.

Once the boat is in a fully raised position, the boat lift translates the boat in a substantially horizontal direction over the barrier. Translating is actuated by a motor which powers a conveyance mechanism, such as a set of track wheels, to move the boat lift back and forth. An operator is able to easily control the functioning of the boat lift through a control panel located near or within the boat lift. It is also contemplated that an operator may direct the boat lift's functioning via a remote control device. In one embodiment, the boat lift may serve as an alternate to a lock, whereby the bodies of water may be at different levels. Despite the differences in relative elevations, the boat's movement may still be in a substantially horizontal, albeit inclined, direction of travel.

One aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes laterally translating the associated boat with respect to the associated boat's forward direction of travel.

Another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes positioning the moveable lift frame and the boat over a second body of water and lowering the cradle assembly to release the boat into the second body of water where the starboard or port side of the associated boat is juxtaposed to the barrier.

Yet another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes a vertically moveable cradle assembly where the cradle assembly includes a boat cradle and/or boat sling capable of receiving a boat, for carrying the boat across the barrier and for releasing the boat into the second body of water in a direction substantially parallel to the barrier.

Another aspect of the embodiments of the present includes vertically moving the moveable cradle assembly to maintain a constant elevation above the surface of the barrier.

Still another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes weights attached to a non-water retaining boat-support mechanism.

Even another aspect of the embodiments of the present invention includes releasing the boat into the second body of water wherein the starboard or port side of the boat is juxtaposed to the barrier.

Other aspects will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of the boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 1a is a side elevation view of the boat lift apparatus showing two cantilevered ends in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an end elevation view of the boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the boat lift apparatus without a roof structure in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the deck of the boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the lift frame of the boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an end view of the lift frame and the cradle assembly of the boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a front view of a boat lift apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description of the embodiments of the present invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which, in conjunction with this detailed description, illustrate and describe a boat lift capable of hoisting a boat out of one body of water, translating the boat sideways in a horizontal direction over a barrier and then lowering the boat into a second body of water. Referring to FIGS. 1 through 3, boat lift 10 consists of a base structure 20, lift frame 60, and cradle assembly 100. Base structure 20 may include a plurality of piering members or columns for supporting lift frame 60, which may be horizontally moveable. The lift frame 60 may serve as a support structure for the cradle assembly 100, which may be vertically moveable. Base structure 20 may be substantially rigid by, for example, anchoring the piering members or columns to the earth. The base structure 20 may further include a guiding mechanism such as tracks or rails, rollers, or bearings. The lift frame 60 may be moveably connected to the guiding mechanisms for translating the lift frame 60 back and forth in a generally horizontal fashion over the base structure 20. In one embodiment, lift frame 60 rolls along tracks 34 of base structure 20, which is erected over a barrier 18 separating a first body of water 14 and a second body of water 16. “Bodies of water” may refer either to distinct bodies of water like, for example, the ocean and an inland waterway. “Bodies of water” may also refer to segments/region is within a common body of water. In FIGS. 1 and 1a, boat 12 may be positioned next to either end of the boat lift 10 (i.e. from the first body of water 14 or from the second body of water 16). Accordingly, barrier 18, which may be a man-made or a natural barrier, can be located between the first body of water 14 and the second body of water 16. For example, many areas having both salt and fresh water bodies may need to prevent the two bodies of water from mixing, thereby contaminating the fresh water. Various types of organisms, plants, and animals can only survive in either salt or fresh water. Some barriers 18, such as raised land barriers, may occur naturally. Alternatively, persons or communities may construct barriers 18 to separate two bodies of water, such as during the construction of a fresh water lake or canal. One aspect to the existence of barriers 18 is that boats are prevented from freely traveling between nearby, but navigably unconnected, bodies of water. As such, boat lift 10 may portage a boat 12 between bodies of fresh and salt water, and/or it may portage boats 12 between bodies of fresh water or between bodies of salt water.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 through 3, the base structure 20 may comprise concrete columns 22 driven into the earth, along with posts 24 to which are mounted top rail 26, cross members 28, track mounts 30, track support member 32, trade 34, track stops 36, and/or cantilevered-end supports 38. Decking 40, docks 42, ladders 44, and roof 46 may also be included with the boat lift 10. The piering members or columns 22 may extend into the ground (or earth) at spaced intervals along the span of boat lift 10. Accordingly, the columns 22 will need to access submerged ground. The number of columns 22 required depends on the span covered by the boat lift 10 and the associated strength requirements, which depends, at least in part, on the size of boats being portaged and the materials used to construct the boat lift 10 as would be evident to persons skilled in the art. Posts 24 affixed atop columns 22 may extend in a substantially vertical direction. Still, it is contemplated that posts 24 may extend in other directions, including a vertically inclined angle, which may be angled for the purpose of intersecting a neighboring post 24. Generally, posts 24 provide for the attachment of a roof 46. The base structure 20 may include top rails 26 and cross members 28, which may be attached to posts 24. Track 34 may comprise railroad track-like members, which attaches to track support member 32. Track mounts 30 secure track support member 32 to column 22. Stops 36 are mounted at the ends of track 34 to prevent lift frame 60 from over running track 34. Stops 36 may comprise a plate or angle joined to track 34 and/or track support member 32. In this manner, the base structure 20 may comprise a first frame section erected substantially over the barrier 18 and anchored to the columns 22. When track 34, and its associated components, extends from a column 22 without connecting to another column 22, the track 34 becomes cantilevered. The portion of the base structure 20 that extends cantilevered over the first body of water may comprise a second frame section. Similarly, a third frame section may extend cantilevered over the second body of water, shown in FIG. 1a. Cantilevering may be desirable for saving costs, or when the underlying earth is not suitable for accepting columns 22, or when it is otherwise undesirable to utilize a concrete column 22. The cantilevered frame sections may also facilitate maneuvering of or docking of the boat 12 next to the barrier 18 in a sideways fashion as will discussed in a subsequent paragraph. The posts 24, top rail 26, cross members 28, track mounts 30, track support member 32, and cantilevered-end supports 38 may comprise wood beams, or metal (including steel or other alloys) or composite I-beams (i.e., S or W shapes), structural tees, angles, channels, tubing, or the like. The joining of all components may be achieved by any known means, such as welding, riveting, or bolting. To provide access to boat 12 when it is being portaged, base structure 20 may include a deck 40, which may be attached to columns 22 at a location just above the water near the barrier 18. Deck 40 may extend longitudinally between distal ends of boat lift 10, and/or laterally between the sides of each end respectively. Ladders 44 may also extend from deck 40 to provide access to the water and/or a floating dock 42, which may be anchored to base structure 20. The base structure 20 may take on any variety of constructions that provide sufficient support for the cradle assembly 100.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the roof 46 may attach to base structure 20 adjacent posts 24 and/or cross-members 28. The roof 46 may includes horizontal members 48, center posts 50, roof bows 52, and roof coverings 54. Horizontal members 48 attach to cross member 28 of base structure 20. Center posts 50 extend vertically from the horizontal members 48 to join roof bows 52. Roof bows 52 generally extend from the uppermost end of center posts 50 to attach to an end of horizontal member 48, and may extend further if desired by the user. The quantity of horizontal members 48, center posts 50, and roof bows 52 may depend on the materials or beam design used for each, as well as the roof coverings 54 desired by the user. As a roof covering 54 becomes progressively heavier, the greater will be the need for either stronger materials or an alternate beam design including additional horizontal members 48, center posts 50, and roof bows 52. Any known roof covering may be used, including shingles, metal roofing, or sheeting. The roof 46 may cover all or any portion of the boat lift 10.

With particular reference to FIG. 5 but also to the remaining figures, the horizontally moveable lift frame 60 translates on track 34 and comprises structural and mechanical (translational and lifting) components. Lift frame 60 is shown generally as a rectangular structure formed by longitudinal side members 62 and lateral side members 64. Internally, lift frame 60 may include a central drive unit guard 73, which may be placed between lateral members 66 and an arrangement of longitudinal strengthening members 68, 69, 71, 72a, 72b. Larger strengthening members 68 may be located towards the center of lift frame 60 to compensate for the added weight associated with a lifting unit shown generally at 82. Gussets 70 may extend from longitudinal side member 62 to lateral member 66, in assisting to provide added strength and torsional rigidity and to reduce stress concentrations. The central drive unit guard 73 may also be formed from a rectangular frame 74 and a cover. Any or all structural members 62, 64, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72a, 72b, and 74 may comprise wood beams, or metal (such as steel) or composite I-beams (S or W shapes), structural tees, angles, channels, or tubing. The joining of all structural members may be achieved by known means, such as, but not limited to, welding, riveting, or bolting. It is noted here that the aforementioned configurations of the lift frame 60 and its components are exemplary in nature and are not to be construed as limiting. Rather, the moveable lift frame 60 may take on any variety of constructions sufficient for accomplishing lifting and portaging, as further described herein.

With continued reference now to FIG. 5, as mentioned above, the lift frame 60 may include translating means, which in one embodiment may include track wheels 75, wheel sprocket 76, shaft, motor 77, gear reducer 78, drive sprocket 79, and linkage 80. Track wheels 75 may be flanged to operate on track 34. However, this feature may depend on the type of track 34 used. The motor 77, gear reducer 78 and drive sprocket 79 may mount externally at a corner of lift frame 60 along lateral side member 64, while the corresponding track wheel 75, wheel sprocket 76, and shaft may mount externally at the same corner but along longitudinal side member 62 so that the linkage 80 may be mounted upon wheel sprocket 76 and drive sprocket 79 respectively. In one embodiment, two sets of track wheels 75 exist located externally at the corners of a common lateral side member 64. Similarly, the two remaining external corners of lift frame 60 each include a track wheel 75. The aforementioned constructions describe one embodiment for the lifting and portaging of a boat 12 in an essentially horizontal manner across a defined pathway. However, other translating means are also contemplated including alternate guiding and/or conveyance mechanisms, such as rollers, bearings, slides, or any other suitable conveyance means functionally equivalent to wheels.

The lift frame 60 may also include a mechanism or lifting unit 82 that actuates the cradle assembly 100. The lifting unit 82 may include a motor and gear reducer 83, drive sprockets 84, drum sprockets 86, linkage 88, drum shafts 90, shaft coupler 91, bearings 92, drums 94, cable 96, and lead blocks 98. The motor and corresponding gear reducer 83 drive the drive sprockets 84 that in turn drive drum sprockets 86 via linkage 88. The drum sprockets 86 may then be used to drive drum shaft 90 and the attached drums 94 to raise and lower the cradle assembly 100. In one embodiment, the lifting unit 82 contains two drive shafts, each operating one of two sides of the cradle assembly 100. Each drive shaft may be formed by connecting two drum shafts 90 via a coupler 91. However, it is contemplated that a single continuous drive shaft may exist without the need for coupler 91. Each drum shaft 90 may be constrained to lift frame 60 via bearings 92. Accordingly, drums 94 may contain cable 96 or rope, which may be metal cable or rope, or any other commercially known product that can be used on a drum to raise and lower cradle assembly 100, such as a polymeric fiber, or composite strap. The cables 96 may then extend from the drums 94 to vertical lead block 98, which directs the cables 96 down to the cradle assembly 100.

The cradle assembly 100 may function to accept, carry, and release the boat 12. As previously described, the cradle assembly 100 attaches to lift frame 60 via extendable supporting means such as tension-bearing cables 96, chains, beams, rigid members, or any other means as is appropriate for use with the embodiments of the present invention. Accordingly, extending or retracting the supporting means will lower or raise the cradle assembly 100 respectively. As illustrated in FIG. 6, the cradle assembly 100 may comprise cradle supports 102 and a boat-support mechanism 106, such as a boat sling 106, which may include a plurality of straps 106′. The cradle supports 102, which may be rigid steel beams, may also include pairs of wheels 104 rotatably connected to distal ends thereof. In one embodiment, the cables 96 run from each vertical lead block 98 mounted of the lift frame 60, through the corresponding wheel 104, and back to an anchor or clip 99 mounted on the lift frame 60. In this manner, rotating the drum 94 in a first direction to extend the cable 96 will lower the cradle assembly 100. Similarly, rotating the drum 94 to retract the cable 96 will raise the cradle assembly. The cradle supports 102 may be constructed of wood beams, steel, metal alloy, composite I-beams (S or W shapes), structural tees, angles, channels, tubing, or the like. In one embodiment, the boat-support mechanism 106 or boat sling 106 may be constructed of two straps 106′ each having two ends connected to the cradle supports 102. However, any number of straps 106′ may be used to construct the boat sling 106 as is appropriate for use with the embodiments of the present invention. Each strap 106′ may be affixed at opposing ends of the cradle supports 102 via pins, clips, bolts or other fasteners. In one embodiment, the straps 106′ may be moveably connected to the cradle supports 102 by a movable constraint 108 such as a trolley 108′, wherein the moveable constraint 108 is capable of translating along cradle support 102 to allow boat lift 10 to accommodate differently sized boats.

As mentioned, the cradle assembly 100 may include of a pair of boat slings 106. The boat slings 106 may be fabricated from high strength polyester that is resistant to damage from abrasion and deterioration from water exposure. The boat slings 106 may also be fabricated from materials offering similar wear resistance like that of nylon. It is also contemplated that the boat sling 106 for carrying boat 12 may be comprised of other suitable means, including but not limited to, a heavy gauge net 106″ which may be coupled to connectors at its extremities. Like the straps 106′, such heavy gauge net 106″ may also be produced from nylon or high strength polyester. To assist the boat slings 106 in submerging rather than floating, weights 110 may be provided with the boat slings 106. In one embodiment, weights 110 are sewn into packets provided in the boat slings 106. The cradle assembly 100 and/or the weights 110 may not retain water when the boat 12 is lifted out of the water. In an alternate embodiment, the cradle assembly 100 may employ a rigid structure, as shown in FIG. 7, for lifting, supporting, and portaging the boat.

With reference now to all of the Figures, in use the lift frame 60 of the boat lift 10 is positioned over the first body of water 14 thereby positioning the cradle assembly 100 over the first body of water 14. The cradle assembly 100 may then be lowered into a position where the boat sling 106 and the corresponding weights submerge beneath the water. It is noted here that track 34 is cantilevered over the first body of water thereby allowing the boat sling 106 to be oriented so as to receive the boat 12 in a sideways manner. That is to say that the boat 12 may be maneuvered to juxtapose the port or starboard sides of the boat 12 to the barrier 18 and the boat lift 10. The boat 12 may then be driven over the boat sling 106 for subsequent lifting and translating by the boat lift 10 in a manner consistent with the embodiments described herein. If straps are used, at least one of the straps can be adjusted to accommodate different length boats 12. The boat 12 may then be translated over the barrier by engaging the lifting unit 82 to raise the boat 12 and laterally moving the lift frame 60. During movement, the boat 12 may held at constant elevation above the surface of the barrier. Accordingly, the boat lift 10 may include a control unit that automatically adjusts the elevation based upon one or more sensors, not shown. After the boat 12 is lifted and successfully translated over barrier 18, it can then be lowered into the second body of water 16 for navigation as desired in the second body of water.

Although the invention has been described herein with reference to the present embodiments, it will become apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications of the present embodiments of the invention as described herein can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.