Fender Facts

Fender Facts

To protect your boat while mooring or lying at its home berth, why not add fendering to the pontoons? We compare the options. We all hang fenders from our guardrails or cleats to protect our boats if they come into contact with solid surfaces, but some of our hairiest moments can be when slotting them into their home berths. It seems only sensible to protect our cruisers from damage against the edges and corners of marina pontoons.

A walk around any marina will reveal a variety of approaches. Many are Lash-up. Some, pulling adrift from securing screws, seem to risk greater damage than they will save! What purpose-made pontoon fendering products are available and what kind of value do they offer?

What do you need?

There are several questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a system.

Do you just want protection against scuffing and scratching, or do you need a product that can stand up to solid impact?
Do you want localised protection at likely bump spots or full coverage of the berth?
How much impact absorption do you want? The more you have, the more likely you are to bounce off and have to start your approach again.
How much does your boat weigh? The heavier it is, the more robust your fendering must be.
Before installing any fendering, don't forget to ask the marina operators for permission.
What's available?

The products tested fall into three main categories.

Rubber or Vinyl extrusions - These are suitable for use with lighter boats, but conventional fenders are still needed.
Estimated price: $350 - $700 for 10m (33ft) berth
Inflatable fenders - These are good protection along with a certain amount of impact absorption, but can be bulky and sometimes deflate.
Estimated price: $700 - $900 for 10m (33ft) berth
Perimeter systems - These should offer good impact protection, energy absorption and prevent fender creep, but will need professional installation. It is still a good policy to rig conventional fenders when leaving the boat unattended to gain extra protection against the top edge of the pontoon due to boat rock.
Estimated price: $1550 for 10m (33ft) berth
EVA Bump fender - Quiet in use, the bump fender system can be fixed around the entire pontoon, and makes a good bow or stern buffer. The product allows even compression without distortion and will absorb over 50% of energy on impact. Easy to install, leaving approximately 1m intervals between, make the system very economically viable.
Estimated price: $900 including fixing for 10m (33ft) berth.