A boat is a huge investment. To protect that investment, it is crucial to protect your boat from bashing into the dock when returning to the slip, or when stormy weather conditions bring rough waters. Dock bumpers can be expensive, particularly when you add the number you might need. For smart do-it-yourself individuals, high-quality dock bumpers can be made for much less by using old tires. Other materials work well, too. The key is to find a bumper material that weathers well in wet conditions and provides the necessary cushion to keep the boat from crashing into the dock.
Read the marina agreement to uncover any restrictions that might influence the design or materials used to make the bumpers. Marina agreements can be very restrictive about anything attached to the dock. Some marinas require removable bumpers.
Measure the dock, and the width and length of your boat. Determine the best size of tires to use. The larger the tire, the better. Consider the typical spots on the dock that the boat hits when being docked. You may be replacing bumpers there already. Decide on how many bumpers are required for maximum protection.
Go to a junkyard to purchase the number of tires needed. Many bumpers sold in nautical stores are made from tire material because it will not damage any boat surface. For this reason, tires are a perfect choice to be used as bumpers. Based on your measurements, select the largest tires that will fit in the dock space, leaving room to maneuver the boat.
Go to the hardware store and buy stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers, since they will not rust. Buy thick nylon rope instead of hardware, if bumpers need to be removable. Go to a car shop and purchase a tire shining product that weatherproofs the tires. Any brand is fine, as long as the product indicates that it prevents cracking and is a weatherproofing agent.
Treat the tires with weatherproofing tire shiner. This will keep them from weathering and cracking as fast.
Attach the tires in strategic spots where the boat is likely to hit the side of the dock when being moored in the dock slip. Use the bolts or rope to attach the tires to the wooden dock. Test the tires to be sure they are secure. Use the nylon rope instead of bolts to attach the tires if the marina agreement requires removable bumpers.
- If the marina has rules against attaching anything to the dock, the bumpers can be used as removable bumpers on the dock or on the boat.
- The bumpers can be adjusted for better placement if necessary.
- Treating the tires on a regular basis with the waterproofing tire shine product will keep the tires from cracking.
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