New Fenders for Bumblebee

New Fenders for Bumblebee

The existing fenders on Bumblebee were mostly polypropylene and had been battered and squashed to the point that their capacity to do any ‘fending’ was much reduced. So, and in keeping with our drive to reduce our use of plastics, several large coils of manila rope were ordered and a new set of side fenders have now been made, together with a large button fender of an unusual design.

Having first made a set of narrow fenders (using repeated crown knotting) I moved on to some more interesting types.

Ring Fenders

The ring fenders are made from a core of rope or ‘cheese’ which is coiled tightly using a jig. This is held together using temporary bindings. Then ringbolt hitches are used around the ring, with a lanyard knot at the top for attaching the finished fender. The first example here uses 12mm manila for the core and 10mm manila for the hitching; this makes a very robust and firm fender. The second has a core of scrap nylon mooring rope with the same 10mm hitching which makes it look very smart – although it is a much softer fender because of the nylon core.

Button Bow Fender

Now on to the big one. Bumblebee has a solid rubber bow fender which, while very robust, means that any over-enthusiastic ‘nudges’ of quaysides or lock gates can lead to things falling off the walls. So an additional, more ‘forgiving’ fender to be attached in addition seemed like a good idea. Working from a design in Colin Jones’ Fender Book (available from the Canal Bookshop) I built a core of rubber garden hose which was sandwiched between two thin cheeses of 12mm manila. Scraps of hemp rope were used to pad around the chain which runs through the middle of the core. The sections of the core and then the core as a whole were bound tight with nylon cord using packers’ knots.

Rather than using the more common ‘hitching’ method of covering the core, I made a woven 10mm manila covering. The ‘warps’ were run through the central hole in the core and left slack to allow the ‘wefts’ to be woven from top and bottom around the whole core. This used 30m of rope, which was heaved tight and hammered into place before being tucked in and trimmed.

Finally, the ends of the warps were brought together through the (now very tight) central hole and tied off into a nice star knot. The resulting fender is very good-looking and now just needs two rope slings to attach it via the chains to the bow of the boat.

Patrick Carmichael

Experiments in stained glass and other media.