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Buyer's Guide

Boat Fenders

What is the difference between a Boat Bumper (a.k.a. "boat bumper") and a Boat Fender? Often, the terms "Bumper" and "Fender" are used interchangeably, however there s a clear difference. Boat Bumpers, which are usually permanently affixed to boats at the dock, are attached to boat by fastening to the dock with metal fittings known as "bumpers."

The Boat Fenders on the other hand are movable, and are usually molded in a cylindrical shape. They have two or more adjoining ends, with one side of each end having a slit that allows it to be fitted to either the inside or outside edges of the boat's hull. Fenders allow ships and other vessels to be steered while under water. Fenders allow for greater maneuverability of small boats, and reduce tipping and resultant capsizing. They also give the owner or operator the ability to alter the course of their vessel during a physical encounter.

The reason why Boat Fenders have become such a common fixture on commercial and recreational vessels is the extreme weather conditions they can withstand. Originally developed for use on ships, boat fenders have seen a rise in popularity among boaters of all kinds in recent years. In the warmer months, a fender is primarily designed to protect the underside of a ship's hull from the elements, particularly salt spray. Keeping the wearer dry is paramount in any water sport. A fender's primary function is to prevent water from getting into a pilot light, or blowing off of the side of a boat, damaging the electrical components.

For boaters who travel by boat frequently, an easily installed mooring system is a must. Mooring systems are typically comprised of retractable aluminum "floats" that are connected to a sturdy dock. Choosing the best boat fenders that compliment the mooring system is key to having a pleasurable experience docking or boating.

Many boats offer a variety of fenders. Fiberglass is a very popular choice in boat fenders because of its durability and resistance to salt spray, as well as corrosion and mildew. Plastic composite materials, such as polyethylene and ABS plastic are popular choices in fiberglass fenders, as they are resistant to rust, corrosion, and mildew and can also handle high amounts of stress. Aluminum is another popular material used in boat fenders because of its non-corrosive properties. These materials, along with steel, are typically used on larger ships and boats due to their ability to survive severe weather conditions and offer the boat owner peace of mind while on board.

If you plan to take your boat on the road more than a few times each year, or if your vessel is stored at a marina for long periods of time, you may want to consider purchasing steel or aluminum boat fenders to protect your ship from harsh salt water, debris, and bumps and bruises that can occur while on the road. Having durable and rust-resistant marine hardware on the hull of the boat will help protect the sensitive parts of your boat, such as the rudder and the main bearings. Even if you do not use your boat on the water as much as you do during summer months and other seasons, it is still important to make sure that your boat has protection against natural hazards. If you constantly add and remove weight from the boat while in storage, you should check the condition of the pilings, hoses, and hull against water and rust respectively to make certain that your investment has full life.

There are several other benefits to installing mooring buoys and boat fenders on your vessel. While they do not strictly apply to all types of watercraft, most people recognize the importance of having sturdy and reliable anchors. Strongly-built mooring buoys and boats also reduce the likelihood of damage or sinking of larger vessels when they are left idling on a coastal area. Even if you rarely use your vessel on the water, having strong yet rugged mooring buoys and boat fenders will help the unit last for many years while you continue to use it.

Boat owners who live near bodies of water are most likely aware that hurricanes can wreak havoc on their vessels, particularly if the water is calm and shallow. Because these people often use the boat as a method of transportation, strong but watertight boats are vital to keep them from getting capsized or sinking. Having strong and durable boat hardware on the hull will ensure that you have peace of mind whether the water is calm or stormy. As with any type of marine product, there are both pros and cons of having this type of item installed on your boat.

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