Looking at other people's bow fenders, the most common approach throughout the canals and inland waterways is to lash an old car tyre or fertiliser bag to it with a piece(s) of frayed rope and, hey presto, you have something that looks like its fallen off the back of a silage heap.
Well, not wanting Skylark to look uncared for so soon, I wondered if I could keep to the traditional theme of an old car tyre but to do it with a bit of style. I imagined Shirley Bassey singing Diamonds are Forever and realised it must be possible.
This is the process I followed. But remember to complete each stage before moving onto the next one otherwise you could get into right muddle.
Stage one. Take your fender off the boat and give it a good wash, evict any wildlife living in it and repair/heat seal any frayed bits. A tip, if you clean your fender in the wife's sink, you must make sure you clean the sink afterwards or you might find your tool kit is thrown into the garden.
Stage two. Give your tyre a good wash in the same way as your fender (remember my tip).
Stage three. Measure the front of your fender. You may want the tyre to cover the whole fender, reach from end to end or just go part of the way. It's your fender, so you decide.
Stage four. Cut your tyre to size. I used a Stanley knife to remove the rims following a handy groove between the wall and the tread. Then use a hack saw to cut the tread to the correct length. Remember, cutting through high tensile steel wire encased in industrial grade rubber is great fun so make the most of this enjoyable experience but be careful, Stanley knives and hack saws are sharp.
Here's the one I made earlier:
Stage five. Drill enough holes into the outside edges of the tyre to make sure it fits well without any unsightly bulges. Then tie it tightly onto the fender with black polypropylene rope or, as I did, with paracord*, making sure the ends are heat sealed and hidden from view. Remember, it's good to be neat.
* I'll wait and see if the paracord is strong enough to withstand the rigours of life on the river.
Stage six. Refit the fender and don't be surprised if you find complete strangers complimenting you on your imagination, creativity and workmanship (but don't hold your breath).
Finally, remember, just because you have a nice new tyre-covered fender on the front of your boat, it doesn't mean you can go around bumping into things. Be careful out there!