Two Boats Using Boat Fenders


It may be an inflated bladder or a soft foam. It may be cylindrical, spherical or flat. Fenders are your best protection from expensive and unexpected damage to your boat. These bumpers absorb the shock of vessel movement so that neither your vessel nor what it is bumping against is damaged. How else can you maximise a fender’s potential? Here are some great tips for using boat fenders.


Choosing the right size plays a crucial role when setting up fenders. You don’t want them too big or too small. An inch thick in diameter for every five feet of boat length is recommended. Smaller boats may do well with a couple of fenders. Larger vessels in the 40-foot plus range need to have at least four, while larger boats will use six or more.


Space is always limited on any boat. Carry two fenders for each side, plus one or two replacement fenders for boats around 10 metres in length. For boats over 10 metres, have three to four fenders per side are best, with one or two replacement fenders as a backup.

There are unexpected cases where spare fenders will come very handy, such as when trying to offset a rolling swell or when strong winds are pinning the boat to the dock. I always carry one or more fenders than I think I will need just in case.


No other fender works as hard as the roving fender. Aside from hanging fenders on the sides of your vessel, make sure to assign a crew member who will drop the fender where it’s needed most.

Tie a six-foot piece of nylon line to a large fender, then make a loop by tying a bowline knot through the eye on both sides of the fender. Watch all sides of the boat and hold the fender either in a vertical or horizontal position, depending on requirements.


When docking alongside flat surfaces, a vertical position works well. Place the boat fenders vertically near the beam and stern of the boat. These are the two areas to get the most amount of abuse when docking.

When coming alongside a protruding structure, a horizontal position will do the trick. Hang the fenders horizontally adjacent to the pilings. Positioning is everything when it comes to getting the most out of your fenders.

Life on the water can be very unpredictable for a boat. Aside from your boating skills and knowledge of safety measures, using boat fenders is a smart solution to prevent expensive and unwanted damage to your boat. Invest in good-quality fenders, have more than you need and take the time to put them in the right position. You will want to sell your vessel one day and using fenders to your advantage will help you retain the value of your investment.

Fenders are quite cheap, considering the amount of protection they provide.



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John Steele

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.