Rafting up with other boats: Tips and tricks
26th January 2022 Elena Manighetti
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:
allow the biggest and heaviest boat to drop and set their anchor first
place fenders around your boat to protect the hull(s)
tie two lines to your cleats - one at the bow and one at the stern
approach the anchored boat very slowly and carefully from the stern
throw the lines to the other boater, so they can tie them off to their cleats
adjust the fenders’ positions so they protect both boats
add a spring line and any other lines necessary to keep the boats close
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 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:
do a 360-degree visual check
start the engine
untie the lines
slowly motor forward and retrieve your anchor (if you have to)
watch out for swimmers in all directions as you leave.
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.