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 boat 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 highly suggested. Smaller boats may do well with a couple of fenders. Boats in the 40-foot plus range need to have at least four, while larger boats will use six or more.


Space may be limited on any boat, but not carrying enough boat fenders can put you and your boat in more trouble. For boats reaching 10 metres in length, carry two fenders for each side, plus one or two replacement fenders. For boats over 10 metres, three to four fenders per side are best, with one or two replacement fenders as well.

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. Carry more fenders than you think you may need than be unprepared for unexpected events.


No other fender works as hard as the roving fender. It also plays an important role in keeping your vessel safe. Aside from hanging fenders on the sides, make sure to assign a crew who can walk and 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 the need.


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 maximum amount of wear and tear once the boat gets in contact with the surface.

When coming alongside a protruding structure, a horizontal position will do the trick. Hang the fenders horizontally adjacent to the pilings. To maximise your fenders’ potential, positioning is everything.

Life on the water can be very unpredictable for a boat, especially with the winds and waves, other vessels docking at the same time or structure that can easily give your boat some scuff. Aside from your boating skills and safety measures, using boat fenders is a smart solution to prevent expensive and unwanted damages on your boat. Invest in good-quality fenders, know the right number to carry as well as the best positions to hang them. When you invest in an expensive property, it pays to take extra measures to protect it.



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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.