Rafting Up: Tips and Tricks

Rafting up with friends is one of the big pleasures of boating, but there are procedures and protocols that make it safe and enjoyable.

Rafting up with friends is one of the big pleasures of boating, but there are procedures and protocols that make it safe and enjoyable.

Rafting up with other boats can serve two purposes – it can either provide you a docking place when the boat slips are already full, or it can be strictly a social activity. Regardless of your purposes, keep in mind that there are unwritten rules of rafting up etiquette that every boater should know and follow. Adequate and proper preparation is key for successfully rafting up your boat to another’s boat. Be sure to do the following:

  • Have an anchor and plenty of properly sized fenders and lines.
  • Tie your fenders on properly with a clove hitch locked by a half hitch.
  • Put your fenders into position ahead of time.
  • Lines should only be made fast to the cleats in case the raft-up has to break up quickly.
  • 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 water sports enthusiasts.
  • 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.
  • If you’re approaching the raft-up, watch out for stern anchors!
  • Check the height of the fenders both fore and aft.
  • Lines and fenders should be checked regularly during the raft-up to ensure tension and position.
  • As any good boater should, always keep an eye on the weather.
  • 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.

Other common courtesy considerations when rafting up can go a long way:

  • When initiating a raft-up, know that it’s acceptable to ask, and to be asked, to join.
  • Always ask fellow boaters before turning up your music.
  • Respect the privacy of your neighbors.
  • Be careful when crossing from one boat to another. Tread lightly when crossing to avoid heavy rocking.
  • Keep your boating experience clean by ensuring no trash goes into the water including beverage containers; recycling is the key.
  • If you’ve gone ashore, ensure your feet/deck shoes are sand-free before crossing.
  • Charge up your boat’s batteries and turn the generator off!

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