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Best boat fenders 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated July 1, 2019
Best boat fenders of 2018
Come with me. There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below.
Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs. The “Total” indicates the overall value of the product.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this boat fenders win the first place?
I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
Why did this boat fenders come in second place?
The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made.
Why did this boat fenders take third place?
It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great! It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
boat fenders Buyer’s Guide
Megafend Yacht Fenders
Megafend provides boaters with an easily inflatable vinyl fender that’s perfect for boats with limited stowage space. They also have a solid core, hole-through-the-middle fender that is engineered for heavy marine use. All their fenders and buoys are available in many standard and custom sizes.
Most sizing charts account for mainly item one above, but it is important to use common sense to address the other two. If your boat is particularly heavy for its size, or the conditions you moor in are or will be particularly harsh, use larger, heavier duty fenders than called for in sizing charts.
The general rule of thumb is that a cylindrical fender should have 1″ of diameter (2″ for round fenders) for every 4′ to 5′ of boat length. See the sizing chart below for more specific sizing and type guidelines.
Norestar Fender Holder
If you follow the advice here and carry extra fenders, you’ll need a place to stow them. You can simply stow the fenders in a storage locker or under a seat. However, this can make access to the fenders inconvenient. Fender racks are great for this as they keep fenders both accessible and out of the way.
Fender racks generally come in two types: folding racks and permanent racks. Folding racks, such as the Norestar Folding Fender Racks fold down when the fenders are removed, freeing up deck space.
There are a number of accessories available to make working with your fenders more convenient. A few very useful ones are fender hand pumps (alternately, most sports ball pumps work) to quickly and easily add air to a fender whenever required, fender height adjusters, to adjust fender height instantly without having to tie knots, and of course fender lines, to keep your fenders properly secured. These products are definitely worth a look.
Use a surveyor
Surveyors work for the people who hire them so use them as much as you can.
As well as verifying the condition and quality of the boat you plan to buy, it is also worth asking a surveyor for advice on boat buying procedures such as making sure the boat comes with a VAT invoice.
Brand New or Pre-Owned
Budget is a big consideration, of course, but there are other factors that will affect whether you buy a new or pre-owned boat.
New boats may suit those who are planning to keep their craft for some time, have been on the water before and know exactly what they want.
As for the type of boat to buy, the choice is very wide – there are over 40 types out there, and one of them will fit you. Again, it’s very much dependant on what you want from your water-based experience. See our ‘What’s on Offer’ guide to boat types and uses.
Set the Conditions Before You View
It’s a good idea to decide before viewing any boat that you will not buy the first boat you see, or even on the same day you see it. The initial viewing should be part one of a sequence of events to ensure the boat you fancy is really the one for you.
A used boat should be checked out for condition; identify any rectification, repairs or improvement work that might need to be done, confirm the asking price and payment terms, and decide if, having examined the boat, you want a sea trial.
The sea trial – If you can take the boat out the first day you see it, so much the better. If not, arrange another time for a sea trial – you have to know how the boat handles on the water.
If it’s a power boat, it’s good if the engine is cold and not already warmed up when you’re taking it out. It could be that it’s difficult to start or it may smoke a lot from cold, and with an already-warm engine it’s impossible to tell.
Check the boat’s steering and handling capabilities at slow speeds, in confined situations. If it’s a sea-going boat, see how much it rolls and pitches, taking waves of different sizes at alternative angles; and if it’s a planing boat, check how quickly and easily it gets on the plane. Make a mental note of the sea conditions – a boat’s performance is relative to the sea condition in which it’s operating.
If it’s a sailing boat, try different points of sail, sailing into and away from the wind and check the boat’s manoeuvrability, stability and performance of the sails and rigging under load. And also check how the boat performs on the engine. At the end of the sea trial, re-examine the bilges, engine compartment and the boat generally for any evidence of oil or water leaks.
With a used boat there are some checks and information gathering that you should carry out. These checks concern EU RCD compliance, validation of Hull Indentification Number (HIN) number, Declaration of Conformity, the aforementioned evidence of VAT compliance and searches for finance outstanding.
Again, according to Donal at Crosshaven, the CE plate/stamp on the boat is vitally important, so make sure it’s there.
When you’ve seen evidence of build and VAT compliance, and have all of the information that you need to carry out your basic security checks, you should take some time to ‘think about it’ and get these checks done.
Assuming the boat passes your essential security checks, and that this boat is definitely the one for you, arrange for a professional surveyor to examine the boat. Use a reputable surveyor.
Cutting the Middleman
Bernard Gallagher of Dublin’s BJ Marine believes purchasers get the best value from their local dealer: “Most Irish boatyards are dealing direct with the manufacturer, so there’s no middle man.” Gallagher says the larger manufacturers are offering very good value to their dealers; “We’ve never bought better, so we can pass on those savings to our customers.” He also says it’s never been easier to check the value of boats, with access to the internet and boating publications.
So, before entering into negotiations with a seller, you need to decide what price you’re prepared to offer and at what price you’re prepared to settle.
With a new boat, it’s quite rare to pay the brochure price. What you may be offered as a discount depends on many factors such as availability, demand, and model age – it’s all down to timing and negotiation.
With used boats, it’s less straightforward. The simplest way is to compare the boat you’re interested in with other boats for sale of the same make and model. But be sure you’re comparing like with like. Age, condition and specification make a difference as well as the ancillary equipment that’s included in the sale, so make allowances for any differences in these.
Paperwork you need to sell
To obtain top price for your boat, you should ensure that all your boat documents are in order.
Documents of compliance If your boat was manufactured after June 16th 199you should have a ‘Declaration of Conformity’, stating that your boat complies with the EU Recreational Craft Directive. If you’ve lost this piece of paper, there should be the boat builder’s CE plate inside your boat; the original manufacturer will be shown on the plate and you can contact them for a duplicate declaration.
The more service and maintenance records that you possess, the more you can justify a top price for your boat.
Additionally you should have your boat’s original sales invoice which shows that the VAT on your boat was accounted for. Once more, if you have lost this, contact the boat builder. If they didn’t sell the boat directly themselves, they should know who did. When you know who sold the boat originally, you can contact them for a copy of the original sales invoice.
Assessing what it’s worth
To decide what price at which to sell your boat, do what the buyers do – research the current market. This means looking through magazines like Afloat and noting what prices are being asked by brokers and dealers – and private advertisers – for your type of boat. Remember that your boat may well be worth more than those you’ve seen advertised, depending on several factors including specification and condition.
Once you’ve carried out your assessment, then you can decide at what price to advertise.
If you sell through a broker, they’ll be able to advise you. If you’re selling privately, you should aim to set your price just below that advertised by brokers for an identical boat, leaving you room for negotiation, to end up with a satisfactory price. However, if you want to sell it quickly, then you may have to think again. It’s up to you.
Choosing a broker or dealer
The benefit of using either a dealer or a broker is that they make the job of selling your boat comparatively easy and worry-free for you. They’ll manage the sale from beginning to end.
They’ll deal with the advertising, sea or river trials, liaise with surveyors, rectification work contractors employed on your behalf, assist with negotiations and deal with all the paperwork. And, in some cases, they’ll even berth or store your boat in their yard free of charge, to enhance their display of boats for sale and make it easier to show potential buyers your boat.
But this comes at a cost. You can expect to pay a sales commission of between 6% and 10% of your boat’s selling price, plus VAT. The percentage charged principally depends upon your boat’s value; the lower the boat value, the higher the percentage charged.
Your Advertising Campaign
Now you need to plan your advertising campaign. Check local press to see what your options are and how much they cost. Afloat, for instance, would include your ad on their website as well as their printed magazine, so it’s not just paper advertising but high-profile internet promotion.
Decide what size of ad and what duration you wish. It’s a good idea to take some good quality photographs of your boat and, in the text of your advert, include all of those items that will help set your boat apart from the rest, justify your sales price and attract potential buyers. Don’t forget to include full details of your boat’s description and specification.
Also ensure to include full contact details and make sure they’re correct. If possible, supply both daytime and evening contact numbers, mobile and landline, as well as an email address if possible.
Negotiating the Sale
The secret to sales negotiation is to be well prepared.
If you’ve followed the steps contained in this guide, you will already know how a potential buyer is going to try to dive the price down. So work out either how you plan to counter this or by how much – if anything – you’re prepared to adjust your price for any items that may be spotted by a potential buyer.
Also, think abut whether there is anything that you can ‘trade’ with, that has less of a value to you than money off the selling price. This may satisfy the buyer’s need to obtain a discount and at the same time be acceptable to you.
With boats, the first offer you receive can often be the best offer, so think carefully before turning down an offer that falls just short of your asking price or the price that you were originally prepared to accept. It may be some while before you receive another.
Minimizing Your Risk
To reduce the chance of losing boat and/or money, always get the full name, address, telephone number/s and email address of a prospective buyer, and check them out as best you can before agreeing to anything. For instance, find a reason to send an email that needs a reply, and yet another reason to telephone the prospect and check how the telephone is answered.
If the purchaser lives near you, carry out a ‘drive by’ to see if the car that they drove to come view your boat is the one in the driveway. And if they’re buying your boat ‘blind’ – that is, they’ve never been to view your boat – alarm bells should be ringing loudly. Have you ever bought a boat blind? Would you ever? If you wouldn’t, why should they? Exactly.
Wheel and deal
Join your boat’s class or owners’ group – chances are the subs are fairly small and you may become eligible for discounts on chandlery, marine services and insurance cover that will repay the initial cost of your subscription many times over.
An object used to protect the hull of a narrowboat or canal boat from impact damage. Traditionally made of rope but now also available in rubber or plastic forms.
Fenders and buttons are a crucial piece of cruising equipment on your canal boat or narrowboat. Importantly the fenders and buttons will help to protect your paintwork, particularly going in to locks, mooring up and undertaking challenging maneuvers. Fenders and buttons will also protect you from knocks from other narrow boats and cushion the impact of any collision, thus protecting items inside your canal boat.
The traditional material used to make fenders is rope, which looks spectacular when first attached. However, rope will disintegrate over time with mould, algae and will quickly lose its appearance. An alternative is to use rubber fenders and buttons, which will survive the test of time better than rope.
A walk along the cut and you will often find narrowboats selling fender and button sets. You may be fortunate to witness the traditional craft of making rope fenders and buttons along the tow path.
Take as much valuable kit as you can home with you, so that if the worse should happen, you haven’t lost everything. Close and lock all hatches, portholes and windows. Rain has remarkable properties when powered by a gale and it will almost always find a way in, particularly around older hatches and windows with worn seals, so go around the inside edges of older hatches and ports with gaffer-tape to make sure she won’t leak.
Shut all seacocks, except the cockpit drain seacocks, which must be left open.
There will also be a good deal of snatching as she works in her berth, testing cleats on deck and pontoon and wearing lines. Think about adding some mooring line dampers to absorb the worst of the snatching.
Across most of the UK, gales are a rare event (thankfully), so we aren’t always well prepared when they hit. But give the situation a little thought and you can limit damage considerably. The St Jude’s storm was well forecast and the direction and strength of the winds was known in advance. If your mooring or marina berth leaves you without enough shelter from the worst of the weather, consider moving to somewhere with more shelter and less fetch.
In the 198storm, Aldeburgh Yacht Club lost ten boats to swamping because their moorings are in an exposed north-south reach. For St Jude’s, it was clear that those moorings would again be in the firing line, so the club’s boatmen moved the boats upriver to an east-west stretch that afforded more shelter. The result of this action was that no boats sank. If there is time, move the boat to a safer mooring or marina. If your boat is moored in an exposed location, or you do not have total confidence in your ground tackle, consider having the boat hauled out.
ON A MOORING
If you’re at all dubious about the integrity of your ground tackle, put your anchor and chain in the tender and row it as far as you can in the direction of the forecast gale, and throw it all over. Back on board, take in as much slack as you can without over-riding your mooring, then tie a line to your mooring strop, drop it and motor her astern to make sure the anchor is set before taking in on the mooring line again. Think about the bottom, too; for example, in mud a Danforth-style anchor will grip better than most other varieties. If you can take a line ashore, round a strong tree or a rocky outcrop, without obstructing the fairway, so much the better.
She’s certain to yaw heavily and work her lines in strong winds, so fit extra anti-chafe on the mooring strop where it goes through the fairlead and passes through the mooring.
And consider rigging a back-up, too – a bridle strop leading back to both winches in case the Sampson post fails. If you’re not setting it, unship and stow the anchor – it’s likely to chafe at your strop – and for belt and braces, run the anchor chain through the mooring, too. Again, close all seacocks except the cockpit drains and check the scuppers and drains are clear and free-flowing.
Trailer Weight and Class Ratings
Once you know the weight of your trailer and your vehicle’s towing capacity you can zero in on the type of hitch you need. Trailer hitches come in five weight classes to accommodate for different trailer and vehicle types. Use the guide below to find the hitch class you’ll need for your towing rig.
There are plenty of hitch manufacturers out there, so be sure to check out their different features to find the right hitch for your needs. Curt hitches are among our most popular for their well-fitting vehicle-specific designs and rust-resistant powder coat finishes. If it’s a low-profile look you’re after, the Hidden Hitch receiver hitch features removable drawbars that make it virtually invisible when not in use.
Weight Distributing Hitches
Standard receiver hitches and bumper hitches are considered “weight carrying hitches” because all of the trailer’s tongue weight is carried by the ball and the receiver. Heavy tongue weight tends to pull your tow vehicle’s rear end down and lift the front end up, causing an uneven and less stable ride. These problems can be solved by using a load equalizing hitch, more commonly known as a weight distributing hitch.
Front Mount Hitches
Sometimes it’s handy to have a trailer hitch receiver mounted on the front of your vehicle. Front mount hitches are convenient for applications like using a boat ramp because they give you close control over your trailer. These hitches are also great for mounting accessories like snow plows and winch plates. Front mount hitches can be easily installed on most trucks, vans and SUVs.
Flat-Towing Behind Your RV
Towing a car with your motorhome requires different hardware than hauling trailers with your truck. The main piece you need is a tow bar. Brands like Blue Ox usually have a super-high weight capacity so you can tow even the heaviest trucks, and they connect your RV to your vehicle’s baseplate. The Blue Ox base plate is custom-designed to your vehicle to bolt easily to your frame, and for many vehicles they have removable tabs so they won’t affect your exterior looks.
How To Install A Trailer Hitch
In some cases you might have to temporarily move pieces of your exhaust system out of the way to fit the hitch in, but often this is a pretty simple task. Some vehicles do require drilling and extensive mechanical work to install. If you are not experienced with mechanical work, we suggest that you bring your hitch in to a shop for a professional installation.
Safety Tip: Just like hitches, Trailer Hitch Balls come in a range of weight ratings. Make sure your ball is properly rated to handle the weight of your trailer before towing.
The Hitch ball (aka tow ball or trailer ball) is the “business end” of your hitch. Your trailer coupler mounts and locks on top of the hitch ball, making it the point where the trailer connects to your vehicle. Hitch balls are designed to allow your vehicle and trailer to turn corners and accommodate bumps and dips in the road. They come in a variety of sizes from 7/8″ to 3″. Generally, the lighter the trailer the smaller the hitch ball. Hitch balls also have a variety of shank diameters and lengths to fit different trailer heights.
The hitch ball is bolted to the Ball Mount. Also known as a draw bar or a stinger, a ball mount is a square steel tube that includes a heavy mounting plate to hold the hitch ball. Ball mounts come in a wide variety of sizes to suit different trailer balls. Plus, because trailer tongues come in many different heights, they’re also available with different amounts of drop or lift to properly connect to your trailer. Many ball mounts are reversible – for example, you can install a Curt ball mount for a 1/4″ drop, or flip it upside down for a 5/8″ lift. There are also several adjustable ball mounts available, which let you select the amount of rise or drop you need without buying a separate mount.
Hitch Pins & Locks
Your trailer, aside from being a big investment itself, is often full of valuable equipment. Thieves often try to take advantage of how easy it can be to remove a trailer from a hitch and drive off with your goods. For extra security, add a Curt trailer hitch lock to secure the ball mount to your vehicle. These locks feature a dead bolt in place of the retaining clip, making it virtually impossible to remove your ball mount without a key. Reese trailer coupler locks are also available to secure your trailer to the hitch ball.
Many late-model vehicles, from trucks and vans to RVs, have trailer lighting connectors pre-installed for easy wiring. If your vehicle is not equipped with trailer connections, you will need a hitch wiring harness to interface your electrical system with your trailer. Many light wiring harnesses, such as Curt T-Connectors, are custom-designed to your exact vehicle so you can easily add them to your lighting system without cutting or splicing any wires.
Trailer Brakes & Brake Controllers
Smaller, lighter trailers tend to have one or two axles that roll freely and are easily controlled by your vehicle’s brakes. Many heavy and large trailers are required to have their own set of brakes to ensure safer stopping and better control over your towing rig. Your brake pedal needs to be interfaced with your trailer brakes so all your wheels slow down at the same time. This job is done with a trailer brake controller.
Inertia Brake Controllers use an internal sensor attached to an external pendulum to detect the deceleration of your vehicle and engages the trailer brakes accordingly. Inertia trailer brake controllers are better at detecting how hard you’re braking at any given time, making them more powerful and responsive than timed controllers.
Accelerometer/Proportional Brake Controllers use a completely internal sensor system to detect the braking force you’re applying to your towing vehicle. These ultra-intelligent trailer brake controllers are excellent for larger trailers and more frequent/long-distance towing.
Tow Vehicle Braking Systems are designed for motorhomes that are flat-towing a car. Units like the Blue Ox Patriot Towing Brake System respond to your RV brakes and actually press the brake pedal on the towed vehicle using an electric piston. Like trailer brake controllers, these systems can also give you manual control over the tow vehicle’s brakes if it starts swaying.
Virtually all trailer brake controllers have a lever that lets you manually activate the brakes if your trailer begins to sway. They also require special wiring to connect to your trailer brakes. Just like with trailer lights, many vehicles made after the mid-90s come with pre-installed brake controller connections, or you can purchse a Curt brake controller wiring harness for splice-free installation.
Practicing safe driving habits is essential when towing. Hauling a trailer drastically alters the way your vehicle handles and adds considerable weight and length to your rig. By following these rules you can minimize the chance of mishaps and ensure a safer and more confident towing experience.
Avoid sudden braking and jerky steering. Every little move you make with your vehicle affects your trailer in a big way. Sudden movements can cause your trailer to sway, skid, or jackknife.
Maintain reasonable speeds. Towing a trailer requires staying at a consistent and moderate speed to maintain full control. Keeping your speed down prevents your trailer from swaying and improves your ability to react to changing road conditions.
Learn how to keep sway under control. Sway can be caused by influences out of your control such as wind and air pressure changes. If your trailer starts swaying, let go of the accelerator and slow down. As your speed goes down the trailer should correct itself. Do not step on the brake pedal – braking will actually make the sway worse.
Leave lots of space between yourself and other drivers. The extra weight of a trailer greatly lengthens your braking distance. Don’t follow too closely behind the drivers in front of you and minimize the chance of rear-ending.
Look ahead. Because it takes much longer to maneuver your towing vehicle, take a long view of the road ahead. Seeing upcoming traffic, changing road conditions, or construction gives you more time to make the speed lane changes you need.
Be careful and observant when changing lanes. Adding a trailer can make your rig over twice as long as your un-hitched vehicle. Make sure you have a clear view of the lanes next to you – we recommend adding a set of towing mirrors to improve your visibility. You also need extra room to change lanes, as you can’t brake or accelerate as quickly as other vehicles.
Accommodate for faster and slower vehicles. You won’t be able to keep up with the speed demons when you have a heavy trailer attached. Be courteous to faster traffic and allow other drivers to get past you efficiently. Also, if you need to pass a slower vehicle, allow much more distance to maneuver than you would in a normal car. Being moderate and courteous with faster and slower traffic makes driving safer and less frustrating for everyone on the road.
Choosing the right trailer
Good Guy Greg
Our favourite boater, Greg, is a seasoned captain who makes us all proud at the boat launch. Greg packs the boat before heading to the boat launch (he always remembers his boating license), he uses a family member as a spotter, keeps the kids and dogs in the car, and has the most efficient loading list known to mankind. Greg is a smart boater. Be like Greg.
The cruising boater or silver-haired grey navy sailor would be well served by what is commonly termed a boat-in-a-bag. This is about as simple as boating gets. Compact, durable and inexpensive, basic roll-ups sport an inflatable collar and flexible synthetic rubber floor, the latter often reinforced with timber or composite slats that facilitate folding and add rigidity. Most are supplied standard with paddles/oars and can be folded down into a carrier the size of a golf bag, while many have rigid transoms capable of supporting an outboard.
Capable of a substantial payload once inflated, a 2.4m Plastimo Raid P240SH inflatable, for example, is rated to 5hp, with a capacity of three adults and a maximum load of 350kg — all this in a boat that can hide in the lazarette and the boot of a car. They’re great as a cheap tender and just right for fishing in shallow and skinny waterways. Add a small 2hp engine, a couple of two-piece rods and a splash of fuel, and you’ve got a stealthy boat that can access backwaters and creeks where you’d never get a conventional 10ft tinnie.
The best part, you get all of that for just a couple of grand — including the rods and fuel.
In recent years you may have caught New Zealand’s unique Sealegs boats performing party tricks around the Aussie boat-show circuit, morphing from rock crawler to tender extraordinaire before your very eyes. Available with either a fibreglass or alloy hull, Sealegs is a category unto itself and this innovative craft did itself proud in the aftermath of last year’s Queensland floods.
Predominantly outboard-powered inflatables require no more effort than any other boat to maintain in as-new condition. To maximise your inflatable’s lifespan, follow these simple guidelines: • If you normally have a shower after a dip do the same for your boat, a 10-minute washdown is all it takes. If you have a boat-in-a-bag, air it once it’s rinsed off, much like you’d hang out a wet tent. Hang wet carpet on the lifeline or siderail to dry and pop some moisture-absorbing pouches in any storage locker. • Flush the engine after every use. I repeat, flush the engine after every use. • Tubes can be cleaned of grime and scum with a bit of elbow grease and a mild detergent, while products like Jiff or Scuff Orf will sort out stubborn stains. Wax any fibreglass hull surfaces and dress the interior vinyl with a protectant such as Armor All. • Check the tubes for correct inflation and for leaks. • A pressure gauge is an inexpensive investment as is a bucket of soapy water, which brushed onto the tubes will reveal any leaks through tell-tale bubbles. Punctures are easily fixed with the supplied repair kit.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your boat fenders wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of boat fenders
- №1 — Norestar Set of 4 Center Hole Boat Fenders/Bumpers for Docking/Mooring
- №2 — Norestar Two Boat Fender Covers/Bumper Socks
- №3 — Polyform G Series Fender