Fender Selection and Buying Guide

 Contents
Introduction
Fenders and Their Purposes
Docking Tips
Polyform U.S. (Sizing Guide and Warranty)
Polyform's A Series Buoys
Polyform's F Series Fenders
Polyform's Elite Fender Covers
Prostock Marine Fenders and Covers

Introduction

However long you've been in the market for quality fenders for your yacht, you've probably realized a few things by now, namely that there's an abundance of different size and style fenders from which you can choose. Similarly, you've probably also conceded that the larger your vessel is, the more fenders you will need, and the more choosing an inferior fender will inevitability cost you in the long run. Fortunately, we created this website with just that in mind, drawing on our experiences as a yacht chandlery to cull the best yacht fenders and accessories from today's market. In this fender buying guide, we will briefly touch on the two general purposes of yacht fenders and discuss how they are often used in modern boating. A majority of the guide, however, will be devoted to going over the pros and cons of each product we carry, starting with Polyform U.S., one of the oldest manufacturers of molded fenders and buoys. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to  e-mail them to us.


Yacht Fenders and Their Purposes

 

In boating, fenders serve two general purposes:

 

      1.  Acting as cushions and absorbing kinetic energy, fenders are primarily used to protect to a boat's topside by limiting the damage objects against which boat's berth (e.g., docks, quay walls, or any other hard objects) would otherwise cause, particularly to hulls, paint, or gelcoats.
      2. Additionally, fenders are used in a variety of ways to create buffer zones alongside the various structures vessels are commonly moored, including other vessels, which is known as rafting, and floating docks.

 

In order to get the most protection in either situation, there are several factors you must take into consideration. While having the appropriate size, number, and types of fenders on board will undoubtedly make docking safer and, more importantly, less stressful on both the crew and captain alike, the fenders themselves, if deployed incorrectly, will do very little to shield your boat. Because of that, there are several rules of thumb to which you should always try to adhere.

 


Docking Tips

 

Especially when you're in the process of docking, you should always tie your fenders to something solid, such as a deck cleat or a stanchion base, since the line tension can easily tug a funder out of place, thereby exposing your boat's topside. Because many mega yachts don't typically have enough deck cleats, fender hooks, which generally hang over a boat's handrails, are commonly used, however. Ideally, fenders should also hang close enough to the surface of the water, such that they can't be brushed aside by movement of boat against the dock, and to prevent your fenders from swinging excessively, you should tie the fender in as low as possible.


Docking: As depicted in the diagram, you should always deploy at least three fenders while docking – that is, you should have at least one at maximum beam and one at both fore and aft. 


Rafting: Safely rafting, or berthing against another anchored or moored vessel, can be somewhat difficult at first – in this scenario, the best approach is to already have at least five fenders, including three standard fenders at maximum beam and two round fenders at your fore and aft, in place on the stationary vessel.


Fender Tips: Tie fenders low to reduce swining, dock using three fenders, and use at least 5 fenders when rafting

 

 

Throughout the rest of the guide, we will shift our attention to the different manufacturers of fenders, briefly discussing their history as well as  individually evaluating each company based – above all – on the quality of their fenders and, to a lesser extent, on the accessories they offer, including fender covers, etc..


Polyform U.S.:  Fenders, Buoys, and Elite Fender Covers


One of oldest, well-known manufacturers of boat fenders in the world, Polyform U.S. has built its reputation on its commitment to quality, gradually earning itself the trust of the commercial fishing industry as well as captains of some of the most prestigious mega yachts. For more than a half century now, it has manufactured its buoys and fenders entirely in-house, engineering its products, particularly its A Series Buoys, F Series Fenders, and Elite Fender Covers, for some of world’s most demanding marine environments. While countless other manufacturers have tried to copy its designs, only Polyform can say its fenders are molded into one consistent piece and have consistent wall thickness  all of which has resulted in fenders that were designed to last for many years.  Yet, Polyform even offers a limited three year warranty on all of its fenders and fender covers.

 

By only using high-grade resins and consistent heat, a key element in creating high strength properties and even wall thickness, in the molding process, Polyform has produced some of the most reliable and longest lasting molded fenders and buoys available on today's market. In fact, less than 0.5% of all its fenders or buoys ever fail in the field. Moreover, Polyform's fenders and buoys are available in a wide range of colors and sizes. Its F series, a classic European twin-eye (i.e., double-eye) fender, is available in twelve different sizes – that is, with diameters as small as six inches and as wide as 29 inches. Its A series buoy, one of its most recognizable products, is offered in more than seven different standard colors and sizes, ranging from red to Saturn yellow and from eight to 39 inches in diameter.Though only mostly available for its A series buoys and F series fenders, Polyform's Elite Fender Covers are handcrafted using UV resistant, premium grade yarn and heavy-duty polyester and are uniquely woven in seamless tubes. In addition, the materials are also extremely light, even when wet.


 

Length of Vessel Suggested Fender (F) or Buoy (A)
Less than 10' A-0
10' to 20' A-0
20' to 30' F-1, F-02, F-2, F-3, A-1
30' to 40' F-4, F-5, F-6, A-2
40' to 50' F-6, A-3
50' to 60' F-7, F-8, A-4
60' to 70' F-8, F-10, F-11, A-5
Greater than 70' F-11, F-13, A-5, A-6, A-7

Pros:

  1. Polyform U.S. is a well-established manufacturer, known specifically for its commitment to quality.
  2. Less than 1% of Polyform's products ever fail in the field.
  3. Polyform offers a limited three year warranty on all of its products, including its fender covers. It offers its fenders and buoys in a large variety of sizes and colors, many of which can be paired with a fender cover.
  4. Compared to inflatable boat fenders, Polyform's molded fenders are relatively inexpensive.
  5. Polyform includes a lot specifications about each of products, which helps with inflation and maintenance.

Cons:

  1. Because Polyform's fenders and buoys are rigid, they are harder to store than inflatable fenders.
  2. Not all Polyform's fenders can be paired with a fender cover.


Polyform's Limited Three Year Warranty: Polyform U.S. warrants its products to be free of defects in workmanship and material under normal use and service and when used for the purposes and under the conditions for which they are intended. Its warranty does not apply to any problem caused by (1) improper inflation of any product, including under or over inflation; (2) cuts, punctures, or exposure to chemicals that degrade or discolor plastics; (3) harm caused by animals, birds, fish; (4) intentional damage by people; (5) abuse, neglect, accident, misuse, alteration, acts of God, unauthorized repair, improper handling, or improper use; or (6) unusual conditions such as severe storms, hurricanes, extreme temperatures, or the effects of UV exposure. Also, the warranty does not cover cosmetic flaws that result from normal wear and tear under ordinary use and do not affect the performance or use of the product. For more information, please vist Polyform's website (www.polyformus.com).


In the following three sections, we will review each of Polyform's products separately, beginning with Polyform's A Series Buoys and concluding with its Elite Fender Covers. Within each review, there will general be information regarding how to inflate and maintain each fender or buoy.


Polyform A Series Buoys

 

For years now, fishermen, yacht captains, and recreational boaters alike have all used Polyform's A Series Buoys.  In fact, with its signature blue rib-reinforced rope hold, Polyform's A Series buoys, which are also commonly called Norwegian ball fenders, helped launch the Polyform story and have gone on to become one of its best known products. Like all of Polyform's fenders, its A Series Buoys are manufactured completely in-house and, for added strength, are molded into one piece.Additionally, the A series is offered in more than seven different colors and sizes, ranging from red to Saturn yellow and from eight to 39 inches in diameter. Their large volume offers plenty of buoyant lift when used as a float, and apart from its two smallest buoys as well as its largest buoy (e.g., A-0, A-1, and A-7, respectively), each of Polyform's A Series buoys can also be paired with Elite Fender Covers.

 

Polyform's Inflation Recommendations (PDF)

 

Polyform's Dual Valve System: Each of Polyform's A-5, A-6, and A-7 buoys is equipped with a dual valve system on opposite sides of their ropeholds, making the inflation, deflation, and storage of these large fenders even easier. More specifically, on one side of the ropehold, there is a white inflation valve with the words “AIR IN” molded above it, and on the opposite side, there is a blue deflation valve with the words “AIR OUT” molded above it. 

Polyform's Dual Valve System for A-5, A-6, and A-7 Buoys

Pros:

  1. Available in 7 different sizes and colors.
  2. Unique vinyl valve seals securely.
  3. Polyform offers a limited three year warranty on its A Series Buoys.
  4. Even wall thickness for maximum strength and durability.
  5. Reinforced ribbed rope holds.

Cons:

  1. Because Polyform's A Series Buoys are rigid, even when deflated,  they are harder to store than inflatable fenders.
  2. Not all Polyform's A Series Buoys can be paired with a fender cover (see the chart below).

Polyform A Series Buoy: Techical Specifications

 

Polyform A Series Buoys

Model A-0 A-1 A-2 A-3 A-4 A-5 A-6 A-7
Size: (Dia. x Length) 8 x 11.5 in.
20.3 x 29.2 cm
11 x 15 in.
27.9 x 38.1 cm
14.5 x 19.5 in.
36.6 x 49.5 cm
17 x 23 in.
43.2 x 58.4 cm
20.5 x 27 in.
52.1 x 68.6 cm
27 x 36 in.
68.6 x 91.4 cm
34 x 44 in.
86.4 x 111.8 cm
39 x 54 in.
99.1 x 137.2 cm
Eye Diameter .6 in.
1,6 cm
1.0 in
2,5 cm
1.125 in
2,8 cm
1.125 in
2,8 cm
1.125 in
2,8 cm
1.25 in
3,0 cm
1.5 in
3,8 cm
2.0 in
5,0 cm
Circumference 28.3 in.
72,2 cm
36.1 in.
91,1 cm
48.7 in.
122,5 cm
58.1 in.
147,6 cm
67.5 in.
172,7 cm
86.4 in.
219,8 cm
106.8 in.
270,0 cm
130.0 in.
329,7 cm
Volume (Gallons/Liters) 1.6 gals.
5.91 l.
3.5 gals.
13.2 l.
8.2 gals.
30.8 l.
14.5 gals.
54.9 l.
22.5 gals.
84.8 l.
47.6 gals.
179.6 l.
95.1 gals.
359.2 l.
161.6 gals.
610.1 l.
Inflation Guide (Max Circumference)
25.1 in.
63.8 cm
34.5 in.
87.7 cm
45.5 in.
115.6 cm
53.4 in.
135.6 cm
64.4 in.
163.5 cm
84.8 in.
215.3 cm
106.8 in.
271.2 cm
122.5 in.
311.0 cm
Fender Cover Available?
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No

Polyform F Series Fenders

For over 50 years, Polyform has  produced its two-tone F Series fenders, which it offers in 12 different dimensions and can easily be paired with Elite Fender Covers. Like all of its fenders, Polyform's F Series are molded into one piece, which increases its overall strength and durability. As twin-eye fenders, they can be hung either vertically or horizontally.

Pros:

  1. Available in 12 different sizes and ideal for boats between 20 and 70 plus feet.
  2. Offered in two colors (e.g., blue and white)
  3. Unique vinyl valve seals securely.
  4. Polyform offers a limited three year warranty on its F Series Fenders.
  5. Even wall thickness for maximum strength and durability.
  6. Reinforced ribbed rope holds.
  7. Twin-eye design for either vertical or horizontal use.

Cons:

  1. Because Polyform's F Series fenders are rigid, even when deflated,  they are harder to store than inflatable fenders.
  2. Not all Polyform's F Series Fenders can be paired with a fender cover.


 

Polyform F Series Fenders

Model F-1 F-02 F-2 F-3 F-4 F-5
Size: (Dia. x Length) 6 x 24 in.
15.2 x 61 cm
7.5 x 26 in.
19.1 x 66 cm
8.2 x 25 in.
20.8 x 63.5 cm
8.2 x 30 in.
20.8 x 76.2 cm
8.5 x 40.5 in.
21.6 x 102.9 cm
11 x 30 in.
27.9 x 76.2 cm
Eye Diameter .7 in.
1,8 cm
.7 in
1,8 cm
.9 in
2,2 cm
.9 in
2,2 cm
9 in
2,2 cm
1.0 in
2,4 cm
Circumference 18.8 in.
47,1 cm
25.1 in.
62,8 cm
28.3 in.
69,1 cm
28.3 in.
69,1 cm
28.3 in.
69,1 cm
37.7 in.
95,8 cm
Volume (Gallons/Liters) 2.2 gals.
8.2 l. 
3.0 gals.
11.3 l.
3.5 gals.
13.2 l.
5.3 gals.
20.0 l.
9.3 gals.
34.9 l.
11.9 gals.
44.9 l.

Polyform A Series Buoys

Model F-6 F-7 F-8 F-10 F-11 F-13
Size: (Dia. x Length) 11 x 42 in.
27.9 x 106.7 cm
15 x 41 in.
38.1 x 104.1 cm
15 x 58 in.
38.1 x 147.3 cm
18 x 50 in.
45.7 x 127 cm
21.2 x 57.5 in.
53.8 x 146.1 cm
29 x 76.5 in.
73.7 x 194.3 cm
Eye Diameter 1.0 in
2,4 cm
1.0 in
2,4 cm
1.0 in
2,4 cm
1.0 in
2,4 cm
1.1 in
2,7 cm
1.2 in
3,0 cm
Circumference 37.7 in.
95,8 cm
47.1 in.
119,3 cm
47.1 in.
119,3 cm
58.1 in.
147,6 cm
75.4 in.
188,4 cm
100.5 in.
251,2 cm
Volume (Gallons/Liters) 19.8 gals.
74.8 l.
25.1 gals.
94.8 l.
39.6 gals.
149.7 l.
40.8 gals.
154.2 l.
63.7 gals.
240.4 l.
158.6 gals.
598.7 l.

Polyform's Elite Fender Covers

Boats, even while docked, still move a considerable amount, and as they bob on the water, friction can remove layers of paint and other material. If a boat rubs against an uncovered fender for an extended period of time, its paint will likely become marred by the fender, usually requiring an expert detailer to repair the damage. The most inexpensive way to prevent this type of damage is to invest in a set of quality fender covers, and fortunately enough, most manufacturers of inflatable fenders also make fender covers.

In light of this, Polyform developed its Elite Fender Cover series, claiming its fender covers are “as tough as they fenders they protect.” Though only mostly available for its A series buoys and F series fenders, Polyform's Elite Fender Covers are handcrafted using UV resistant, premium grade yarn and heavy-duty polyester and are uniquely woven in seamless tubes. In addition, the materials are also extremely light, even when wet. All of this has resulted in fender covers that are washable and designed to last for many years – yet, Polyform still offers a limited three year warranty on all of its fenders and covers. For more information regarding their warranty, please visit their website (www.polyformus.com).


Prostock Marine Inflatable Fenders and Fender Covers

Founded in 2003 by a pair of crew members who, while docking at several treacherous sites across the globe, realized there was a need for quality yacht fenders in the megayacht industry, Prostock Marine has gone on to become one of the world's leading manufacturers of inflatable boat and yacht fenders, outfitting yachts docked anywhere from estates in South Beach to dive companies in the Maldives.

Prostock Marine manufactures its yacht fenders from start to finish in its Hallandale Beach manufacturing facility, using only raw materials from the United States, and offers yacht fenders in 15 stock sizes as well as three colors. Knowing from experience that inflatable fenders, especially if they don't match the color of a boat's hull, can sometimes cause extensive damage to a boat (i.e., by leaving unsightly scuff marks that require you to hire an expert detailer to fix), Prostock marine also handcrafts fender covers, which can be paired with any of their 15 stock inflatable fenders and are available in black or navy blue.

In addition, Prostock Marine can make custom fenders of almost any size and offers one the best warranties in the industry – that is, a 5-year warranty on all of its inflatable fenders. If a manufacturing defect causes failure within five years of your purchase, Prostock Marine will repair or replace the product at no charge.

Pros:

  1. Available in 15 stock sizes, all of which can be paired with fender covers.
  2. Prostock's fenders are offered in three colors (e.g., black, gray, and navy blue).
  3. Prostock's fender covers are offered in either terry or canvas as well as two colors (e.g., black and navy blue).
  4. Prostock offers a limited five year warranty on its fenders.
  5. Welded from the inside and outside to create a strong, airtight seam.
  6. When deflated, Prostock's inflatable fenders are easy to store. 
  7. Unlike most fender companies, Prostock can make made-to-order fenders and covers. 
  8. Fender repair kit and other accessories available.

Cons:

  1. Not ideal for smaller boats - that is, boats that are 35 feet or less.