We have talked about fenders in all of their glory time and time again. Anything that protects your boat deserves some serious recognition, hence why we focus on fenders so often. However, if you do not know how to properly install and hang your inflatable fenders, they are incapable of doing what they do best: fending you off from another vessel, dock or any type of obstruction. So, we are going to focus on how to correctly install inflatable fenders.
Before going about the installation process, it is important to understand how many fenders you need. The rule of thumb is one fender for every ten feet (300 cm) of waterline, while also always having a minimum of three fenders. Once you have your necessary fenders and assuming all of them are correctly sized to your boat, inflate them. Then, place one fender at the widest part of your vessel. The widest part is the one that will bump into something first along the sides. After this, place the other fenders forward and aft. These fenders should be hung to the lowest part of your vessel. Once all the fenders are placed, they should be tied to cleats. There are three types of basic knots that all work just as well to secure a fender—the running hitch, the clove hitch and the round turn/half hitch.
If you are rafting with other boats, be sure to use the largest-diameter fenders that you have since different boats rock in different ways and have different freeboard and hull flare. In this scenario, large-diameter ball fenders should be installed from the rail or cleats over the topsides to keep rub rails from knocking together. If your boat is tied up to either a smooth-surface pier, a floating, or bulkhead dock, install your inflatable fenders vertically, as this is the easier and most practical way. The fender should be placed just a few inches above the surface in order to keep it from getting gunked up. In this situation, the more fenders the better, as this just means less of a chance of hull damage.
As you can see, installing inflatable fenders is not difficult, there are just little things to remember and keep in mind throughout the process. Installing inflatable fenders just a few times is perfect practice and will ensure your boat is as protected as possible.