A Quick Guide to Setting Your Fenders

How to Guides

A Quick Guide to Setting Your Fenders

Learning to use fenders is one of the easiest ways to protect your boat from the wear and tear of docks and pilings, and can add plenty to your boating experience when used to separate yourself from other boats when rafting up.

It’s ideal to get at least four high-quality, matching fenders along with dock lines about three feet long. While there’s not hard-and-fast rule about what size you need, 5-inch diameter by 20-inch long works well on almost any boat under 30 feet.

Four Fenders - White 500x140mm Double Braided Nylon Dock Line

When coming into a dock, set up your fenders early depending on how you will be pulling in. This can be important if speed efficiency is an issue (such as pulling into a crowded fuel dock) or wind or current will be a factor, demanding your complete attention during the actual docking process. Remember, you don’t have to deploy all the fenders, just those on the dockside.

Tie off your dock line to the dockside cleats a few inches above the waterline or so the fenders cross your rub rails about mid-way. This provides the best protection, especially if boat traffic and/or windy conditions have the water choppy.

Once you’ve pulled up to the dock and tied off, double check the fenders are right in the middle where the hull meets the dock and that you’ve used a cleat hitch knot to keep them secure. To tie a cleat hitch, slip the dock line under one end of the clear and start a “figure eight,” ending your last turn by turning the line under itself and pulling the line tight to lock it in place.

Example of a Figure Eight Knot

When leaving the dock, keep the fenders in place until you’ve released the dock lines and are safely away from the dock and other boats. Remember to untie and properly stow the fenders before you get underway. Make sure you stow them in the same place every time, with dock lines still attached, so they’re ready to deploy next time you head to a dock. Fender baskets are ideal for storing fenders when not in use, and fender covers are useful in protecting both the fender and the boat's paint.

Fender Baskets Fender Covers

For more information on fenders, check out our full range online as well as ropes and other mooring accessories. And if you need a quick demonstration on how to tie a knot, check out this handy instructional video below.


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