Fenders for your Tender

A. As you come alongside, it’s often the top of a hard tender’s gunwale that damages the bigger boat’s gelcoat.

B. The top edge of the gunwale can be padded with a purpose-made canvas-covered fender strip.

C. Some people fit old industrial hose, as shown here; others pad the void and remove the cover if it’s too rough and not fused on.

D. Cheap rubber C-section strips can be put on like this to act as a top-edge fender.

E. Rope fenders look smart but can be awkward to install—wire or cable ties will hold them on.

F. There are many types of plastic fender strips; some have a stiff backing plate with a soft outer strip inset into it.

G. Others have a flexible back with a harder inset piece. All need sealant to protect the hole and fittings.

H. D-shaped rubber fender strips come in many sizes. Some have a flat, stiff inner strip to help spread the loads and prevent sagging. They can be glued on, but then are hard to remove if damaged. Fasten them with pop rivets or self-tapping screws. The outer holes can be filled with rubber plugs.

I. To prevent a droopy appearance, warm flexible fender strips in the sun or in hot water before attaching them. Fix the strip at the bow and pull it around the boat. While it’s still under tension, fix it at the stern. Secure along the sides if necessary.

J. When replacing old fender strips, pry out the inset piece, undo the screws or drill off the pop-rivet heads, remove the old sealant, and fill the holes. When drilling new holes use a long drill bit so the chuck won’t damage the rubber when the drill bit cuts through the hull.

K. Industrial closed-cell pipe insulation foam is a cheap option, but it can’t stand hard wear—and some gulls and rodents seem to like eating it!

L. A chain of small inflatable fenders can be cheaper than fitting some specialized fender strips—and it does add a little emergency buoyancy.

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