Where will you keep the board? The determining factor of the length is usually storage. Mine are about 5 feet long and have been plenty.
What loads will they take? When weather deteriorates I get out of the slip and on the hook. YMMV. Absent serious weather, a 1x6 is plenty big enough. If you are going to weather hurricanes in the slip (assume doubled lines, chafe protection, yadda yadda yadda) maybe - MAYBE - you want a 2x6. If you are in an exposed location, thicker boards make sense.
I put the holes for lines just a few inches from the end of the boards. This has made keeping the fenders inside the ends of the boards more reliable.
sail fast and eat well, dave
beware "cut and paste" sailors.
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