Did I say inevitable battle scars? You might say we shouldn't hit anything if we were good drivers, but I reckon we're as good at steering into locks as anyone else. Lets face it, boats have rubbing strakes and fenders for a reason. Boats have to come alongside brick and concrete walls, metal piling which is often buckled and jagged etc etc. Contact at some point is inevitable.
"Well that's what fenders are for," I hear you say.
No, not that sort of fender you idiot.
Well for good or ill, we choose not to deploy fenders of any type while the boat is moving. Plenty of boats have the reverse policy in order to protect their precious blacking and gunnel paint, but I've seen no end of them get stuck in narrow locks in the process. Somerton deep lock is a favourite for this. I wouldn't like to count how many hours I've lost at this lock because of people with stuck fenders, and in other places down the canal where a bit of a fallen branch gets under or behind the lock gate so it won't fully open.
So normally our fenders only get deployed when we are tying up for the night. Maybe there's a half way house and we should drop the fenders over before we come in to moor. That might save a few scratches. Or should we have them down most of the time and only take them up before entering a narrow lock? I would value your opinions.