What is a Rope Fender?
What is a rope fender exactly? Every boat needs fenders. Fenders act like ‘cushions’ that are hung from the boat. (mostly from the side of the ship). Fenders make sure the boat is protected from impact/bumping into, or rubbing against the quayside, mooring poles or other obstructions.
Classic fenders: A bit of history
Fenders used to be made of used lengths of rope, that couldn’t be used anymore because of wear and tear. Instead of discarding the rope, sailors thought of a way to put it to good use. Although they could not rely on the rope to take heavy loads, they could incorporate it into their knot work and use it as cushioning, to protect the boat. An important way of re-using the old rope was thus by knotting old used ropes into fenders.
Rope fenders are still used today. They do have some down-sides. They used to be entirely made of rope, which made them heavy. On top of that they were made of natural fibers, that were no match for the harsh weather conditions. Luckily we now have modern alternatives! Next the the well known plastic fenders, there is also a modern type rope fender available!
Passtime for sailors
Next to protecting the ship from impact, the rope played another special role aboard the ships. On long trips across the ocean, sailors were often lonely and bored. The evenings and nights were long and there was little to do to pass time. Often sailors were stuck at sea for days waiting for wind, or the right current.
During endless nights, or ‘windless’ days and weeks, the processing of rope lengths into fenders and other objects, was a welcome pastime. The objects that were knotted, like handles around knives, tools, or ‘bellcords’ could often be traded for goods and services when the sailors returned to shore. Knotted artifacts have been scattered around the world in this way.
Modern elastomere fenders
Nowadays most boat fenders are made of a rubbery type of soft plastic (elastomere) and are filled with air. They can be inflated or deflated through a valve using an air pump. They are durable and much lighter then a fender that is entirely made of rope. Although elastomere fenders are very practical, they often are not much to look at.
Modern Rope Fenders
The modern rope fender is a hybrid between old an new. It uses an elastomere air-filled fender in the center and has beautiful traditional knot work as a cover. The rope cover is handmade, but uses high quality Polyester fibers that result in a soft and durable surface that withstands the elements.
View our collection of modern rope fenders