If you enjoy nautical pursuits, then you know that safety is of paramount importance as you prepare to get out there on the water. Your craft should be shipshape and adequately equipped before you cast off, and that means locating a boat fender that offers you the right degree of protection. To that end, let’s look at what’s needed from your boat fender and how you can best choose from among some popular models.
Understanding What Fenders Do
The first part of knowing what sort of fender you want to get for your watercraft is understanding what it is that it’s intended to do. Boat fenders are meant to act as the cushion between your boat and the dock, not to mention any other vessels that might be around you either when you are tied up or when you’re out on the open water. The dock might be made of wood, metal, or concrete, and any of those can cause significant damage to your boat’s topsides. Your fenders should, therefore, be a combination of sturdy but yielding.
The Size of Your Boat
The size boat that you have will directly impact the size fenders that you need. Take measurements of your vessel if you don’t yet know its exact dimensions. The rule of thumb is for you to have roughly 1’’ of diameter for cylindrical fenders, and 2’’ for spherical fenders for every four or five feet of boat length. However, you should also factor in the conditions in which you are likely to be boating, the weight of the boat, and where it will be spending most of its time. If your boat is often docked in places where there is some nasty chop or a tidal surge, it is going to need more protection than if it is sitting in a sheltered inlet.
If you own a boat that spends a lot of its time docked in a sheltered location, it could turn out to be more important for you to customize the slip. You can install dock guards, which usually come in the form of padding that can be placed right at the point of contact. If you know that your boat has this protection waiting for it at home, you probably won’t need to invest in as much padding as you would otherwise.
As for fender size, if you have a boat that is up to 10 feet in length, you should be fine with a flat fender size of small. If your boat is between 10 and 35 feet, then a medium-sized fender should be sufficient. If your boat is anywhere from 35 to 72 feet long, then a large fender is going to be your best move because of the extra protection that it affords.
Your fender size and composition is something for which you will need to take several factors into account. If you’re at all unsure of yourself, consult with a nautical expert. Marine outfitters at brick-and-mortar locations or online forums should have more recommendations for you. Make sure not to get out on the water until your boat is fully protected.