As harbors get more crowded and moorings become harder to find, you may find that rafting with other boats is a good choice for the day or overnight. Rafting up with friends can be of the big pleasures of boating, and sometimes rafting with strangers is the only option available. Keep in mind that some harbors have rules restricting rafting, and there are unwritten rules of rafting etiquette that every boater should know and follow. Here are some things to consider:
Tips on Joining a Raft Up
- Prepare your anchor and plenty of properly sized fenders and lines in advance.
- Put your fenders into position ahead of time.
- Lines should only be made fast to cleats in case the raft-up has to break up quickly.
- Try to tie up to a boat that is similar in size both for ease in jumping from one boat to another and for matching up fender heights to help prevent squeezing.
- Go slowly into position from behind, being careful to watch for other boaters and swimmers.
- As you approach the raft-up, watch out for stern anchors!
- Move up past the line, drop anchor, reverse, and back into position, ensuring tension on the anchor line.
- Tie bow, stern, and spring lines onto the adjacent boat.
- Consider dropping a stern anchor as well for more stability and security for the raft-up.
- Check the height of the fenders both fore and aft.
- When you’re leaving the raft-up, conduct one last visual check before turning over the engine; as you move to retrieve your anchor, again, watch for swimmers and other boaters.
Common Courtesy is Key
- When initiating a raft-up, know that it’s acceptable to ask, and to be asked, to join. It is also acceptable to decline. Be sure to find out if rafting is allowed in the harbor to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of being told to move on by officials.
- Respect the privacy of your neighbors.
- Always ask fellow boaters before turning up your music.
- Be careful when crossing from one boat to another. Tread lightly when crossing to avoid heavy rocking.
- If you’ve gone ashore, ensure your feet/deck shoes are sand-free before crossing other boats.
- Charge up your boat’s batteries in advance and turn the generator off!