Log in
Article search:

Q & A


We are lucky enough to be having a narrowboat built and I have 60 million questions but here is the first.....I am wondering why don't people have 6 fenders (Short ones to avoid being a hazzard in locks) attached to the sides? Surely the more you have the more protected the boat? I've see it described as a contact sport on several occasions. Looking forward to any advice on the matter.

Asked by: suzie  | 8.57am, Tuesday 24 April

WW says:

Fenders are only really useful to protect the boat from impact that is at right angles to the place they are protecting. Any contact with another narrowboat or the approach to a lock would more likely be a glancing blow and a hanging fender would be pushed aside - always assuming it was in the right place anyway.
The problem with side fenders in locks is that locks are wider at the top than at the bottom. Therefore, as the boat drops in the lock, the fenders can jam against the sides making it impossible to move the boat.
The best solution is put the side fenders down when you moor and reconcile yourself to the fact that the hull is the 'working' part of the boat and some slight damage to the paintwork is inevitable.

Graham Booth  | 11.15AM, Tuesday 24 April

I agree with Graham; side fenders can be a hazard, jamming boats in locks but useful when mooring up. Also they are easily lost by being ripped as the boat slides past a lock or bridge wall.
The vital fenders are at the bow and stern; a small button is traditional at the front, but vee-bow fenders are popular as they are easier to fit. Tipcats and a button, or a long button at the back will protect the rudder in locks. Both fenders are required by most navigation authorities to protect their structures.
The hull of a narrowboat has integral rubbing strips fitted at the points where the boat will rub against canal structures. These are sacrificial and are replaced when they eventually wear out; this is why the hull is painted black and easily touched up, not painted as part of the colour scheme.

Rupert Smedley  | 12.25PM, Tuesday 24 April

I agree with both Graham and Rupert. Another point, even the best-maintained side fenders pick up grit and dirt- and in themselves can quickly wear through paint, sometimes doing more damage than the odd scrape in a lock.
Plus it looks very naff boating along with side fenders hanging down, especially if they hang in the water. It is almost as bad as hanging your stern line over the tiller pin...!

Mark Langley  | 4.20PM, Tuesday 24 April

Readers say:

Brilliant help, thank you so much. Shall not be hanging fenders unless moored.....and will certainly not hang the stern line over the tiller pin... unless using it for washing. Thanks again everyone.

suzie  | 6.05PM, Wednesday 25 April

You must log in to post an answer.