Dock Bumpers and Fenders: Protecting your Boat from the Dock

Dock Bumpers and Fenders: Protecting your Boat from the Dock

We can’t all be perfect when it comes to docking. Even experienced boaters can face conditions that make docking safely a challenge. While it is important to have a full set of fenders on your boat, it is equally important to have bumpers on your dock. Dock fenders protect your boat (and the dock) from impact and can even help you guide your vessel into its slip. This article is a guide to the common dock fenders available and their usage.

Types of Dock Fenders

Tires

tiresOh yes, the good ol’ tire. You’ll find tires in all kinds of marinas, and they are largely effective against impact. Using tires also keeps them out of the landfill and extends their useful life. The main drawback with tires is that they scuff fiberglass badly. You’ll certainly want to use boat fenders to keep your boat from rubbing against the tires while at the dock, especially if you have a nice shiny fiberglass hull. To be effective, tires should be hung close together and run the length of the dock or slip. You can even make a decent corner bumper out of tire.

Dock Edging

edge bumper rub railDock edging is easy to customize. You can simply get the length you need and then screw or nail it into the dock’s edge. Easy peasy. Dock edging works great to protect your boat from gentle bumps and repetitive rubbing due to wave action. Where it does not do well is impact. If you come hard into the dock you are still likely to receive damage despite the edging. Dock edging is best when used in combination with other fending methods.

Piling Fenders

piling fenderPilings add complication to docking your boat. There are several ways of dealing with pilings. It’s a good idea to have fender boards on the boat to use when you are out and about, but if the piling is in your own slip, you’ll likely want a more permanent bumper on the piling itself. Strap-on piling bumpers that wrap around pilings can serve this purpose. Good ol’ tires can be used as well by dropping them over the top of a piling and down to the dock. Pile enough tires like this to make a full bumper.

Inflatable or Foam-filled Dock Fenders

inflatable dock fenderInflatable or Foam-filled Dock Fenders come in a few different configurations, generally, 90-degree corners and straight sections, but other angles are sometimes offered as well. Dock fenders help with both impact and rubbing. They take the hit instead of your boat. Dock fenders work well alongside dock edging for added protection. They do not necessarily have to be installed end to end, but be sure to at least cover the areas you are most likely to hit with your bow when coming in.

Dock Wheels

dock wheelDock Wheels are wonderful things. They serve the dual-duty of fending your boat off the dock and assisting it into the slip. They usually come in two configurations, corner mount and side mount. At minimum install one on the corner of your dock, but even better install another along the side. If you have a full slip, install one on each corner and one on each side. On a windy day you’ll be thankful to be able to roll your boat into the slip.

Final Thoughts

The amount and type of dock fenders you use depends on your boat size, dock configuration, and the conditions you are exposed to. If you’ve got a big heavy boat, a slip, and often face high winds, the ideal scenario is to combine dock fender types to your advantage: use dock edging to cover all edges, dock fenders placed to absorb impact, and dock wheels to protect your boat from the corners and assist in pulling your boat into the slip. With a lighter boat against a single dock, a couple of inflatable or high-density, closed-cell foam dock fenders may be all you need.

Published

Recent Posts

Choosing an Anchor Rode: Three-Strand, 8-Plait, or Double-Braided Rope?
Choosing an Anchor Rode: Three-Strand, 8-Plait, or Double-Braided Rope?
All anchor rode is not created equally. If you've shopped for anchor rode before, chances are that you have seen a variety of different anchor line types and wondered what the difference is. In this article, we will discuss the differences and similarities between the most popular styles of anchor line.
Best Boating and Fishing Mobile Apps of 2020
Best Boating and Fishing Mobile Apps of 2020
In today's modern world, there are a plethora of apps available to help us navigate our everyday lives. In recent years the boating world has benefited greatly from a variety of helpful apps that can help take your boating experience to the next level. Boaters today can download apps to help them log their trips, download nautical charts, reserve a slip, and even learn to tie essential boating knots. We have reviewed many of the apps on the market today and are sharing our best boating and fishing apps.
Tips for Monitoring and Avoiding Anchor Drag
Tips for Monitoring and Avoiding Anchor Drag
Anchor drag can send your boat unexpectedly veering out to sea, or worse, the rocks. Today there are a variety of tools boaters can use to alert themselves of unexpected drag and avoid the costly repercussions of drifting into the unknown.
Common Windlass and Anchor Line Snags and How to Prevent Them
Common Windlass and Anchor Line Snags and How to Prevent Them
If you use a windlass to help lower and retrieve the anchor on your boat, chances are that you've experienced the occasional snag, jam, or bind as your rode passes through the windlass. In this article, we will be covering the most common hang-ups that people experience and tips and tricks on how to avoid these mishaps in the future.
Tips and Tricks for Using a Windlass
Tips and Tricks for Using a Windlass
The windlass is a wonderful back-saving device that retrieves your anchor with just the push of a button. A properly maintained windlass is the key component of a well-functioning anchoring system. Do yourself a favor by following these tips and tricks to keep your windlass (and your back) operating smoothly for years to come.
How to Identify and Eliminate the Source of Boat Odor
How to Identify and Eliminate the Source of Boat Odor
Boat odors can come from a variety of sources. It's important to know where and what to look for to completely eliminate the source of the smell. Once you have an idea of where these odor hot spots might be, you can be better prepared to eliminate the odor and prevent them in the future.
Best Fuel Saving Tips For Boaters
Best Fuel Saving Tips For Boaters
With the warm summer months at our doorstep, boaters everywhere are looking for ways to take full advantage of a fun and relaxing boating season without draining their wallets. No boaters are immune to the sting of fuel prices, but there are a number of things we can do to significantly reduce the pain at the pumps.
How to Choose the Best Galleyware for your Boat
How to Choose the Best Galleyware for your Boat
Compared to your kitchen at home, your boat’s galley requires a little extra thought when it comes to dinnerware. Your kitchen does not rock or sway (unless there is an earthquake – oh my!), and likely has a lot more room than your galley. Galleyware needs to be purchased with the limited space and dynamic environs of your boat in mind. In this article we will go over the most common galleyware options to help you choose the best dishes for your boat.
How to Choose the Best Rod Holders for Your Boat
How to Choose the Best Rod Holders for Your Boat
Rod holders are an often overlooked yet extremely useful tool for fishing. A well-planned array of rod holders on your boat can eliminate some of the frustrations of fishing by keeping you organized and focused on finding the fish.
How to Install a Boat Bimini Top
How to Install a Boat Bimini Top
Installing a boat bimini top on your boat is an inexpensive and easy way to make your time on the water more comfortable. Boat biminis provide shade from the sun and cover from the rain. Best of all, installation is easy. In this article we will show you how to choose the correct size bimini for your boat, how to assemble your bimini, and how to install it.