Here’s another sailing tip from our friend Captain John at skippertips.com…
What sailing gear could protect your hull inside a slip, alongside a pier or wharf, if you lost an engine inside a marina, when nested alongside another boat? What if you dock in an area with a lot of tidal rise and fall, boat wakes, ground swell, storm surge?
Fenders protect your cruising boat when you tie up to or leave from a dock or slip. And they protect other boats or structures from costly damage. Often forgotten, or placed in the wrong position along the sides of a boat, or tied in a haphazard fashion–these vital nautical tools can save you from embarrassment and huge repair costs. Follow these seven easy sailing tips for more peace-of-mind this sailing season…
1. Determine the Ideal Fender Size for Your Sailboat
In his delightful book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing“, John Vigor recommends one inch of fender diameter for every five feet of boat length. If you find this diameter too large for practical storage, consider building a fender-board (see tip 5) to give your hull the ultimate in fendering protection.
2. Set to Port and Starboard When Docking Your Boat
Enter a marina and you need at least three fenders per side plus one for roving. Lose your engine and you might need to drift over to a pier or slip to port or starboard. Prepare ahead of time for emergencies.
If you raft up alongside another sailboat (tie up to a boat while they are anchored), or need to be “towed-on-the-hip”, you will need clusters of fenders at the bow, beam, and stern to hold you tight alongside the other boat. Carry more fenders than you think you may need and you will be prepared for planned or unplanned events.
3. Train Your Sailing Crew to Perform This Vital Docking Task
Tie a 6′ piece of nylon line to a large fender. Make a loop by tying a bowline knot through the eye on each side of the fender. This allows the fender to be held in a vertical or horizontal position. Watch all sides of the boat. Move (rove) to any point that needs to be fended.
When coming alongside a protruding structure like a piling, hold the fender in the horizontal position to spread the area of protection and prevent the fender from “rolling” off the structure. When coming alongside a flat structure like a seawall, hold the fender in a vertical position.
4. Position Fenders Like This for Maximum Protection
When you dock alongside a flat face pier or dock, hang vertical fenders near the beam and stern of the boat. These two areas will receive the maximum amount of wear and tear once your are alongside.
When docking alongside a pier with pilings that protrude out from the pier, use horizontal fenders adjacent to the pilings. You may need to use vertical fenders or fender clusters (two or more fenders bunched together) to cushion contact with the flat part of the pier or structure.
For the ultimate protection for your costly boat hull, make a fender-board. It will spread the amount of protection across a wide expanse of your boat hull.
Drill holes on the top of each end of a three to four foot piece of lumber. Larger sailboats may need a bit longer board (keep it 5 feet or less so that it’s easier to stow and handle).
Thread a piece of line through each hole from top to bottom. Knot the bitter end of the line to anchor it to the bottom of the board (see illustration).
Hang the board on the outside of two or more fenders. That way, the board contacts the pier; the fenders protect your hull. Attach the line to cleats or robust deck fittings (not lifelines!).
6. Align Fenders Inside a Slip
Position horizontal fenders adjacent to each piling. In areas with negligible tidal range, you could mount horizontal fenders onto the piling. Horizontal fenders spread the protection of the fender over a greater surface area and have less of a tendency to roll off the piling.
Hang vertical fenders between the boat and the finger pier. Position the fenders low enough so that they protect the hull as the tide rises and falls.
7. Add Life to Fenders with This Easy Sailing Solution
Tar and dirt can stain your costly fenders and transfer the grunge onto another boat. In addition, UV rays cause damage to the rubber fender material after years of hard duty. Fender bags with elastic tops–called fender covers–are worth their weight in gold to defend against these problems.
Use these seven sailing tips to protect your costly hull from scrapes, dents, scratches, or fractures. Invest in the right size boat fender and make sure your sailing crew or partner understand the art of using fenders in close quarters–wherever in the world you choose to sail or cruise!