Improved Fender Whip–Part 1

Improved Fender Whip on the left

This is an improved Fender Whip that holds knots much better than a standard Fender Whip and is much easier to handle than standard double braid or three strand line.  I got this trick from the Chief on a Coast Guard 41 ft Patrol Boat.  I was helping with a combined Coast Guard Auxiliary,  Coast Guard training exercise.  At the end of the day while we were going over what went right and what could have been done better.  I noticed that the fender whips on the Coast Guard fenders had the core stripped from the double braid line used to tie the fenders on the boat.  When I ask why, their response was that the knots held better.

That evening when I got home I took a piece of double braid line, removed the core and  tested the no core line with different  knots around different objects that simulated boat parts.  I found that knots in the double braid line without the core were more secure.  The double braid line with no core was also easier to handle.

I have changed all my fender whips to double braid with the core removed.  After seeing my fender whips several friends had me help them make these Fender Whips for for their fenders.

This article is for fenders that have a hole in the center.  Included is a quick and easy way to finish the bitter end of the Fender Whip so it won’t fray or be uncomfortable to handle.

Fender Whip

Improved Fender Whip for fenders with an eye

If your fenders have an eye on the end for the fender whip please see Improved Fender Whip – Part 2 for a how to do this for fenders that have an eye on the end.


Improved Fender Whip – Cut to length with bottom end whipped

Start by whipping the end of the line you will be passing through the center of the fender.  Cut the line to the required length – remember to tie a stopper knot in the whipped end before cutting the line to length, the stopper knot takes quite a bit of line and we don’t’ want the new Fender Whip to be too short.  I keep a small block of wood in my bag to use as a cutting block.


Improved Fender Whip – Starting to remove core from the uppers section

Pull out the core starting 6 to 8 inches above the stopper knot.  Use a small fid to gently pull the core out.  The fid is homemade from a plain hardware store awl.


Improved Fender – With core removed

The core removed.  Taper the core a bit where it will be pulled back into the cover.


Improved Fender Whip – With core buried

The core has been pulled back into the cover of the Fender Whip and the cover smoothed down.


Improved Fender Whip – Preparing to bury and finish the bitter end

Getting ready to bury the bitter end inside itself.  Bury a couple of inches of the cover in itself.  Not a critical number but there needs to be enough cover inside for the whipping to work.

The fid with the black handle is a Point Hudson Fid, the other one is a Splicing Wand, both by Brian Toss and available at most boating supply stores.

Use any method that works for you, a couple of times I  put masking tape on the end and sort of worried the end into the cover.


Improved Fender Whip – Bury the bitter end

I use a small screwdriver with the Point Hudson Fid to bury the cover inside itself.  Sort of crude but works well.


Improved Fender Whip- With bitter end tucked inside itself

The bitter end tucked back inside itself.  This give a nice end that is easy on the hands with a small lump that you can feel just before the line pulls out of your fingers.


Improved Fender Whip – whipped and finished bitter end

Whip the end of the line to keep everything neat and together.

Thread the end of the new Fender Whip through the center of the fender.  Thread a length of whipping twine through the bottom of the fender whip, a large Sailmakers needle works well as a weight to help the feed the twine through the fender then pull the fender whip through with the twine.  Tie a stopper knot in the bottom of the Fender Whip to keep the fender from falling off.

Put the inflation plug for the fender down in case the plug is forced out, the plug will go down and not up into the face of your crew.


Improved Fender Whip – Completed

Here is the completed Fender Whip with the fender hanging on my fake lifeline on my balcony. Note the stopper knot tied above the fender, to keep the Fender Whip from falling down through the fender when the fender is stored.

The line on the right is the original double braid showing the knot is bulkier and harder to handle than in the line with the core removed.  Both knots are slippery Spar Hitches.


Improved Fender Whip – Showing difference

Here is a close up of the two lines both tied with a Slippery Spar Hitch.  The flattened line with the core removed is easier to tie and much more flexible than the original double braid line.

A special thanks to the Coast Guard Chief for taking the time to share this simple idea.

I have used both Nylon and Dacron line for Fender Whips.  About 50% of the strength of Nylon or Dacron double braid is in the core so removing the core does weaken the line.  The remaining strength for 1/2 inch nylon cover is a bit under 4,000 pounds and 3/8 line is about 2,250 pounds.  It would take some serious forces to break the line, probably damaging the fender, or in some cases damaging what the fender is tied to before the line breaks.

I hope this helps you tie your fenders easier and more securely.

PS: Another advantage of stripping the core from the double braid line is if you need to tie a fender and a dock line to a cleat you will have more room for the dock line because removing the core leaves a very flat and more compact line (about 1/3 the thickness of the original line).

Thanks for your interest in and support of boating safety.


This entry was posted in Boat Maintenance, Boating Safety, Sailing and Boating Skills and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Improved Fender Whip–Part 1

  1. Bob says:

    Please keep the Practical Knots posts coming! I love ’em!

    s/v Eolian

  2. Pingback: Lee’s Fender Knot | Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

  3. Pingback: Spar Hitch | Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

  4. Pingback: Tips on Tying Your Boat to the Dock | Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

  5. Michael says:

    Back in the 70’s when I was working at the Co-op (Now REI Inc.) We used to do the same thing for hiking boot laces. We’d pull the core out of small double braid for cheap laces that really held a knot.

  6. Greg says:

    found your website this evening – LOVE it so far! I;m an old salt myself, (45 plus years on the water since a very young age) and I love the fact that I;m learning new tricks. Keep em coming sir!

    • captnmike says:

      Glad you found something useful, I try from time to time to put things up that just are not common knowledge but work real well (the Spar Hitch is one, as are the Fender Whips)

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