Article and photos by Judy Hills, Roving ACBS Reporter

Fenders are necessary to protect your boat, but they can detract from the presentation when the boat is shown in the water. 

The fender chosen should be proper in size, shape and strength for the boat as well as for the sea conditions at the dock.  Click here or here for a primer on selecting fenders.  They also need to be properly inflated and properly placed for the conditions. 

Fenders today come in a variety of colors. Why not choose a color compatible with your boat?  Yes, the chaffing cloth does ruin the appearance.


Big, fat, white fenders will properly cushion your 22 foot boat at a dock where there is a lot of heavy wave action, but are they really necessary on a calm day at a show on a lake?  They can easily detract from the appearance of the boat’s beautiful lines and the overall presentation.  When you have gone to this much expense and labor in getting your boat in show-condition, why ruin the look with ugly fenders?


There are also accessories for fenders:  Locks, hangers, socks/sleeves, brackets, adjustors, tenders and storage devices.  A bumper is another type of device to protect your boat at the dock.

There is also an angled fender for boats with low freeboards. 

The braided rope fenders can be bought or made.  Click here to see how you can weave your own. 


And we particularly love the white classic mermaid fender—it’s a female thing!

Another pet peeve regarding fenders at boat shows are the dirty fenders.  Click here for a YouTube demonstration on various common products and their effectiveness for cleaning fenders.

When running your boat, remember to take in the fenders.  Your beautiful boat looks really ugly when cruising along with fenders bouncing on the side.   And yes, we understand that you may want to leave the fenders deployed if you are just giving a short ride, but trailing fenders make for an unpleasing photograph.  (Note use of two different fender types on the starboard side of this boat.) 

The next time you go to a show make note of the fenders in use and see what you think.

Thank you, Judy Hills, for this article and pictures.  Judy is a member of the RDC Triangle Chapter of ACBS.

Share your thoughts, reports, and pictures about all kinds and conditions of boats as well as your boating events.  Email to [email protected]


  1. Thank you for another very informing article! I have been reading your wonderful articles for a while now and always enjoy them. They really useful for me. Thank you again!

  2. Bought 4 of the larger sized fenders for my 25′ pontoon. They look very durable and will be a great color fit for my boat. I did have to pump some air into them so expect to need a pump and needle. Only took a couple of mins for all 4. Wish they shipped with ropes but overall a high quality product.

  3. I recently purchased a pontoon boat, and after a few outings and dockings, I notice some small dings. I didn’t want to have fenders tied to the side of the boat, but if I wanted to prevent further dings I had no choice. After shopping at the local marina and online, I found VIVOHOME Vinyl Ribbed Marine Boat Fender. The fenders were half the price of all other fenders and came with tie-down ropes.

    • In terms of its usage, I also like how it is easy to use and install. This boat fender comes with the inflating needles and the pump which will help the user in setting up the boat fender easily. The versatility also stands out as it fits all boats that measure between 19 to 29 feet.

  4. My pontoon is protected on a busy lake and during windy days. The full length of these fenders is long enough for tall docks. The boat won’t be knocking on the dock despite the forces around it.

  5. hi there – I have restored a 1959 Helton Runabout. What type of fender would best protect my hard-earned and beautiful varnish?

  6. Because my boats frequently bump into or rub up against docks, I decided to install a fender for my potoon boat. They are just big enough for the sides and hold up to boats tied up next to you or when the current is strong and decides to take you into the dock.

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