Boating 101 | Protecting Your Boat With Fenders

Posted on: 12 September 2022

Owning a boat involves great responsibility, including protecting your investment. There are many tools you can use, from fenders and bumpers to boat fender racks and boat fender holders. A fender is one of the more useful tools because it protects your boat from stem to stern. Here's what you need to know. 

What are fenders?

Fenders, sometimes called inflatable fenders, are devices used to protect your boat from rub marks, scratches, and other damage that can happen when docking or mooring. Similar to a car's fenders, they are an essential piece of boating safety gear. Fenders are typically made of soft materials like PVC or rubber and can be inflated or deflated as needed.

Do fenders stay on the boat or at the dock?

Fenders stay with the boat at all times. There are inflatable products, called bumpers, that remain at the dock. For that matter, the word "buoy" is often erroneously used for both fenders and bumpers. Buoys are permanently anchored in the water for use as a navigational, directional, or mooring marker.

Do you hang fenders vertically or horizontally?

Fenders are usually hung vertically along the side of a boat using rope or fender hooks, allowing the fender to absorb more of the impact when the boat bumps against something. Your boat's design may be more conducive to horizontal fenders, however.

Are there different types of fenders?

Fenders come in all shapes and sizes. The size you need will depend on the size of your boat. There are also different fenders for different boats, including:

  • Pontoon fenders. These fenders have a flat bottom and two cylindrical sides and are used on pontoon boats.
  • Round fenders. Round fenders are round. They're typically used on large, commercial fishing vessels.
  • Rafting cushions. Rafting cushions are large, flat fenders that are used to protect boats when rafting up with other boats, like at a sand bar. They protect a larger surface area from any damage.
  • Transom-mounted fenders. Transom-mounted fenders are attached to the back of the boat (the transom) and can be used in conjunction with other types of fenders. This type of fender protects a rear swim deck from damage when docking.

How are fenders stored?

A boat fender holder or boat fender rack is a good way to keep your fenders organized and out of the way when you're not using them. Boat fender holders can be mounted on a bulkhead, on the side of the boat, or even on the transom. Boat fender racks are usually made of PVC or metal and have slots or hooks for hanging fenders.

A boat fender cover is another way to store your fenders. Fender covers slip over the fender and can be easily removed when you need to use the fender. Fender covers also protect your fenders from UV damage, so they last longer.

Additionally, most fenders come with a storage bag to keep them clean and dry during the off-season. It's important to store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Fenders are an essential piece of boating safety gear. Be sure to choose the right size and type of fender for your boat, and you'll be ready to enjoy worry-free boating all season long.

Contact a local boat equipment supplier to learn more about boat fender holders.