Rafting up with other boats: Tips and tricks

26th January 2022 Elena Manighetti

Rafting up with other boats: Tips and tricks

Rafting up with another boat is a fantastic way to enjoy being on the water with friends, without squeezing too many people onto one vessel. It’s safer and more comfortable for everyone. In this article, we explain how to do it properly and safely. 

How to raft up with another boat in 8 steps

Rafting up isn’t rocket science, but, just like docking, if you don’t know what to do, you can easily mess it up. 

Before you start, make sure to choose a good spot. It needs to be deep enough for everyone’s draft and far enough from shore and any underwater rocks. The boats will swing, so there should be enough space around them to pivot in all directions.

Let’s look at how to do it, step by step:

  1. allow the biggest and heaviest boat to drop and set their anchor first

  2. place fenders around your boat to protect the hull(s)

  3. tie two lines to your cleats - one at the bow and one at the stern

  4. approach the anchored boat very slowly and carefully from the stern

  5. throw the lines to the other boater, so they can tie them off to their cleats

  6. adjust the fenders’ positions so they protect both boats

  7. add a spring line and any other lines necessary to keep the boats close

  8. tighten up all lines as much as possible while trying to align the boats’ swim platforms.

If you need a refresher on how to anchor properly, check out this article

To minimise swinging as much as possible, make sure the boats that raft up to the anchored boat alternate sides as they join it to keep weight distribution even.

rafting up

Rafting up etiquette

As you know, when it comes to boating, there’s always an etiquette to be followed. Stick to these simple tips to make sure you’re not disturbing anyone:

  • don’t run your engine or generator while rafted up - charge your batteries beforehand

  • if you want to raft up to a boater you don’t know, ask for permission

  • don’t play your music too loud

  • if there are kids nearby, use appropriate language.

Do you know how to behave at a dock? Check out our boating etiquette guide.

How to leave

Once you’ve socialised enough with other boaters, leave in roughly the opposite order in which you arrived - the outer boats should leave first. When it’s your turn:

  1. do a 360-degree visual check

  2. start the engine

  3. untie the lines 

  4. slowly motor forward and retrieve your anchor (if you have to)

  5. watch out for swimmers in all directions as you leave.

rafting up

Rafting up safety tips

Rafting up isn’t particularly dangerous, but getting some things wrong can lead to injury or boat damage. 

Here are our top tips to make your experience as safe and relaxing as possible:

  • don’t raft up with boats of a very different size to yours - they won’t line up well

  • raft up with only a handful of boats (think of weight on the anchor and the swinging circle)

  • don’t raft up in areas where there are large wakes

  • if helping a boat to raft up, pass the line through a cleat before pulling on it

  • make sure everyone keeps their feet and hands on board their boat while rafting up

  • always use cleats to tie the lines to, not handrails or other gear

  • keep the lines as taught as possible, so the vessels roll, rise, and fall together

  • never place hands, feet, or legs between the rafted up boats

  • try to line up swim platforms, so people can walk from boat to boat on them

  • make sure your carbon monoxide alarm is on and watch out for exhaust buildup

  • keep a stern anchor ready for an emergency

  • always keep an eye out for swimmers when going past rafted up boats.

Ready to go raft up with other boats? It’s a super fun activity to do - the perfect relaxed ending to a fun day out on the water. If you do it right, you can just chill out and chat with your friends, without worrying about the boats.

Download the Deckee app from the App Store or Google Play for free before your next boating trip. On the app, you can find your heading, measure distances, check the marine weather forecast, track your trips, and look up points of interest and markers on the map.

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