- If you’ve kept communication open with the inside boat, there should be no surprises when they want to head off.
- You may be happy having heels or soles that could mark on your deck, but it’s only polite to walk quietly when crossing someone else’s boat or take off your shoes if they could mark.
Rafting can test the patience of the most placid motor cruisers and powerboaters, and in the height of summer, mooring spaces alongside pontoons are like gold dust. So how can you ensure you and your temporary neighbours stay on good terms? The RYA’s Emma Slater shares her top rafting tips…
principle, is a basic skill,’ explains Vaughan Marsh, the RYA’s Chief
Instructor, Sail and Motor Cruising, ‘and the manoeuvres required to put your
vessel outside of another boat are no different to coming alongside a pontoon.
But if you’ve never had to do it before, would you know what to do and say
before you started moving across another boat? Rafting is expected, and most
people are fine about it, but refreshing your rafting etiquette is never going
to do any harm.’
Top rafting tips
Because of the
way you need to tie your lines to the other vessel and shore (more on that
later), find a similar-size boat to yours. If you don’t have that luxury, and
find yourself as a bigger vessel alongside a smaller one, see if the boat
inside might swap positions before you settle in. A smaller vessel rafted
alongside a larger inside boat isn’t so much of an issue, but as you will be
stepping off to go ashore, being roughly the same height is useful. This is why
motor cruisers largely raft with motor cruisers, powerboats with powerboats,
RIBs with RIBs and yachts with yachts.
come alongside, motor past and hail the vessel you’re looking to raft to so you
can see if anyone is aboard. In a marina, the staff may already have somewhere
they want you to go, but if not, if you can find a vessel with someone to ask
permission from, it could save an awkward conversation later. If you have no
choice but to raft with an empty craft, look out for when the crew return,
introduce yourselves as soon as possible and find out when they intend to
fenders at the right height. The inside vessel may already have fenders out,
partly to signal they are happy for a rafter to join them, but as the rafting
craft, fendering is ultimately your responsibility. Look out for any
superstructures on top of the boat too. This is generally less of an issue on
power than on sail vessels, but if there is something that might touch in a bit
of swell, position yourself fore or aft of it.
Get the lines
on ASAP. First, secure yourself against the inside craft using your bow and
stern lines and springs, then use longer lines and take extra bow and stern
lines ashore to hold the weight of your boat. Let the inside boat know when
your shore lines are on to reassure them they aren’t taking your vessel’s
weight on their lines and cleats. You might also need to adjust your lines at
high and low water so you don’t end up either squeezing the inside boat or the
lines being ineffectual and having all your vessel’s weight on their lines. If using shore power, you
will need to ensure this isn’t a trip hazard and possibly adjust with the tide
tied on and you want to venture ashore, it’s courtesy to traverse the inside
boat across the foredeck. Nobody wants strangers peering into their hatch as
they traipse across the stern! When tying on the stern shore line you might
have to go around the back of the inside boat, so check it’s OK first.
You may be happy having heels or soles that could mark on your deck, but it’s only polite to walk quietly when crossing someone else’s boat or take off your shoes if they could mark. Likewise, if the kids have been to the beach and are covered in sand, rinse them off with a bucket of water before getting back aboard. The inside boat is going to end up dirtier as people cross it, so try to keep that to a minimum.
If you’ve kept
communication open with the inside boat, there should be no surprises when they
want to head off. There are two possible scenarios.
If you plan to
leave after them, be on deck before
their planned leaving time, with enough crew to move your boat and assist them
if needed. Once they are ready to slip, simply motor away; let the inside boat
leave and then you can come back into the vacant space. Remember, you may need
to adjust your fenders.
adjust your lines so they can leave with your vessel still attached to the
shore by a shore line. They will need to nominate if they are leaving forward
or astern. For this scenario, let’s presume they have elected to reverse out.
If you have enough crew, and are comfortable doing it, remove then re-rig your
shore stern line so it runs from your stern in front of their bow and back to
where it was on shore.
it on top of their anchor or bow while waiting for them to move is handy ‒ this
line must be tended at all times and not go under or be attached to their
vessel. Then remove the (slack) redundant lines securing your vessel to theirs.
Once they are ready to reverse out, remove all lines attaching you to them so
you’re just secured to the shore by your bow line and the slack, very long
stern shore line. You will need two or three crewmembers ‒ one each on your
shore bow and stern lines, while a third with a roaming fender is useful.
reverse out, fender where needed and keep your lines quite slack if possible.
As they move back, start pulling in on your bow line, without squeezing their
boat, with a crewmember tending the stern line to make sure it doesn’t attach
or go under the other vessel, and bring it in very slowly as they leave. Once
they have gone, adjust your fenders, then pull alongside the pontoon. Secure as
normal, tidy away your long lines, then put the kettle on and prepare for
someone to raft to you!