Boat fenders may not be the hottest topic down at the yacht club bar, but you’d be hard pressed to find a captain unwilling to raise a Mimosa in salute of those unsung protectors of both gelcoat and boat-handling pride. At first glance, fenders might seem like a simple, no-brainer topic, but if that’s the case, why is it so many boat owners don’t appear to have a clue as to their selection or use? Here’s a look at how to get the most from your fenders.
What they do and how they do it
A fender is simply an inflatable or padded cushion placed between your boat and another structure to protect your topsides—and the other structure—from potential bangs, dings and scratches that can occur while docking, rafting or mooring. Most fenders (particularly inflatables) are constructed of soft vinyl, although many other materials are used as well, such as foam or the rove hempline fenders found aboard some traditional craft.
Modern fenders are designed for specific uses, such as the corner dock wheel that helps get you into your slip when crosswinds or currents are a challenge.