It depends on how you use the boat. A top railing is very susceptible to damage from tall pilings and walls. If you normally use the boat in only good weather
, and go in and out of one marina, a solid top rail should be fine. But if you venture with the boat, the top rail will inventively be up against a tall piling, dock
, or wall in rough water
and it will get bent up. Remember, even when the fenders are touching the dock
in rough water
, the top of the stanchion is waving back and forth quite a bit.
We venture constantly with our boat, and we often find ourselves banging our way into an unfamiliar slip or wall tie-up at night and in bad weather
. Our stanchions are stainless schedule 40 pipe... and even they regularly get bent. If we had a solid top rail, it would be trashed in short order! A cable top rail stays looking good even after taking a beating.