Make Your Own Rugged Fender Boards

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We described a simple home-built version several years ago (Practical Sailor, December 2011); here we present a few simple upgrades on the same basic design, allowing for simpler deployment, better fender retention, and more stable positioning. Pressure treated lumber provides inexpensive durability.

fender board

Suspension line holes. Drill these vertically through the timber to eliminate chafe on the pilings. If a long bit is unavailable, drill an intersecting hole from the side large to create a recess large enough to accommodate the stopper knot, protecting it from chafe. You will need a long bit, or will have to drill from either side to meet in the middle.

Fender loops. Place near each end retain the fenders. Drill a counter sink to hide the stopper knots from the pilings and prevent chafe (the tails may protrude). The holes are one fender diameter apart. Some folks like bungee cord, but we find 5/16-inch line easy to work with, far more durable, and better able to keep fenders in position.

Bracing lines. Drill a hole at each end for bracing lines to prevent the board from swaying laterally. This helps a short board perform as well as a longer board in rough conditions.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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