Fender Life and Docking Technique.

29 Aug

The following comments  may be common sense to cruisers .  If the trip down the ICW is your first long trip with many stops at a variety of new to you marinas, here are some thoughts on fenders and fendering for you to  consider.

When you are tied to a dock, you will place fenders to hold the boat away from the structure.  If it is a fixed dock the fenders are placed at or near the dock pilings where and as needed.   Generally floating docks are more forgiving  on fender placement as you merely put several down low near the widest  part of the boat, with one near the bow and stern.

When approaching a dock, it is instinctive to put out your fenders on approach.  While this may work well on a floating dock or in a lock, it is not a good idea with a fixed dock with pilings. As you get to the dock the boat will still have some forward way on.  If it is a floating dock, or lock wall (Excluding the locks with severely damaged walls)  the fenders can roll and slide along the lock or dock.  However, on a fixed dock  the fender will be caught between the hull and the piling this will put a huge load on the fender and  they often pop or tear near the rope attachment eye. Worse, it can bend  the lifeline stations.  (That is a good reason to tie your fenders at the station base and not at the top!)

“But wait,”  you say, “I need the fenders out to protect my boat!”  Well, take a close look at your boat.  You’ll see that the furthest outboard extension of the boat is probably a stainless-steel strip along the outside of the  “rub rail.”  It’s there for a reason.  Boat builders know that something has to make first contact with a dock or a wall.  They put that rail there to  take the hit.  Trust me on this, I’m a boat builder. With experience, you will develop the ability to bring your boat to a sideways sliding stop just where you want her, just as she gets to the dock. Secure your bow stern and springs, then it is time to place the fenders.

A burst fender was caught between a piling and the hull


 Bent stanchion to boot.


More from the AIM Marine Group