How to Use Fenders: Between a Dock and a Hard Place
A cruiser offers a guide to the enlightened art of fendering, along with useful tips to prevent wear-and-tear to your sailboat’s topsides. Hands-On Sailor "Seamanship" from our September 2012 issue.
|To maneuver in wind or current, tie a spring line forward of a large, round fender and back down to push the bow out. Or place the fender at the bow and turn against it to force the stern out.|
In über-ugly situations, such as when transiting the Panama Canal or being pinned against a cliff wall by 70-knot williwaws in the Chilean channels, I’ve successfully employed old car tires as fenders. Tires are universally available, indestructible, and cheap.
But for normal use, a little more initial investment made to secure a higher quality of fender will pay off in performance and longevity. That said, even the most durable of fenders aren’t impervious to degradation from ultraviolet light. For the fenders we keep on deck, we use covers that help keep the fenders clean and protected from UV exposure.
By nature, dock dirt is ground deeply into fenders. Use a strong soap rather than solvents to clean off oil or tar stains, as the solvents virtually melt the soft rubber that’s used to make the fenders.
Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a pedantic old salt, remember that these devices aren’t called bumpers. Their job is to fend, and the whole point is to avoid things that go bump in the night.
Alvah Simon and his wife, Diana, are CW contributing editors.
To watch a video of how to tie on a fender, click here.