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Raft Up!

May 28, 2014

Rafting your boat is a great way to spend time on the water with family, friends and other boaters. Here are a few tips to keep you and your boat safe while rafting up this summer.

Raft Up!Gear:
Make sure you have the right gear for rafting up. Fenders, dock lines, spring lines and anchors are important. A boat hook is also handy to maneuver boats at close quarters while keeping hands and feet clear for safety.

Make a Plan:
Having a good plan will make the process of rafting multiple boats together go smoothly and safely.

  • Designate the heaviest boat (not necessarily the biggest) to be the host or ‘anchor’ vessel. This will be the first boat in the raft, setting a good anchor for the boats that will then tie along either side.
  • The total load on the center boat will be more than normal and extra scope is necessary. Make sure the captain of the anchor boat is familiar with his anchor and sets it good at 7:1 minimum scope, 10:1 is always a good idea especially for larger rafts.
  • Size up the boats that plan to participate in the raft up. It is best to place similar sized boats next to one another to best protect the vessels when tied and make crossing between boats easier. Place larger vessels near the center of the raft, on either side of the host or anchor boat, and smaller boats towards the ends of the raft.
  • When planning a larger raft, it is a good idea to have multiple boats set an anchor to secure the raft, every third boat is a good rule of thumb. Be aware of current, tides and wind conditions. Plan to either anchor your raft in place (forward and aft) or to allow for swing (which can tangle lines and anchors if you are not careful).

Raft Up

Communicate:
Use your marine radio or cellphone to communicate between boats as they are added to the raft up.

Be Ready:
Have your fenders deployed and lines ready. Take into consideration if you will be setting an anchor prior to easing alongside the raft. Be safe, look for swimmers and smaller watercraft as you join the raft up. Children and guests not involved with rafting up should be sitting out of the way.

Tie Off:
When in position, tie off to the other boat. Adjust bow and stern lines so your stern aligns with the rafted boats. This allows for safer and easier travel between rafted vessels. Use spring lines to prevent forward and aft shifting between boats.

Movement:
Movement, especially in wake situations is usually unavoidable. This is one reason some choose not to participate in raft ups, and is often a cause for the rafted boats dispersing before dark. How protected your anchorage is from wind and wake, how safe and secure your fenders keep your boat, and how securely lines were tied are all important factors that will contribute to a safe and damage free raft up experience.

HAVE A PLAN, HAVE THE RIGHT GEAR AND HAVE FUN THIS SUMMER BOATING SEASON!

Be Respectful: Respect the privacy and belongings of the boats next to you, especially when coming aboard another’s vessel to cross along the raft. Be mindful of where you step, avoid walking over hatches and through cockpits, etc..

Be Safe: Take your time when crossing between two boats, never jump! Climbing over bow rails, lines, gunwales or swim platforms pose trip hazards and safety concerns. Be careful of cleats and other sharp objects when barefoot. Keep arms and legs out from between boats, you never know when shifting may occur. Wear life jackets or PFD in case of a slip. Never swim between boats.

The Right Tools: Even if you only raft up with other vessels once in a while, it pays to have properly sized and shaped fenders, and the right kind of dock lines for the task. For rafting up with larger vessels, you might want to consider having a set of at least two slightly larger fenders. Having slightly heavier dock line is a good idea too, especially if some of the boats in the raft are larger. Make sure you are tying lines off securely. Checking and maintaining your boat’s cleats and other gear is a good practice to prevent damage while rafting up or dockside.

Get The Gear Here!

Shop Go2marine.com

 

It is another new year and most of us have tucked away our boats for the long winter of hibernation here in the North. This boat hibernation is not localized to just the northern part of the US, Boaters from San Fransisco Bay (and the Chesapeake on the Easy Coast) north usually park their vessels until the first days of spring.

So here are some New Years resolutions.

1. Prep the boat and do that one job that you have been putting off. There will be time right before you launch for paint, varnish and epoxy (and the weather will be warmer) in the spring. Now is the time to install those LED navigation lights, rewire the power distribution panel, change the steering helm and cables or fit a new toilet to your slumbering vessel. Pick just one job and follow it through so that you will be ready to play this next season.

2. Take a Boater’s Safety Course. Many States are requiring boaters to have completed a boaters safety course; currently, only 9 do not. Locally, the state course is often a one time class that you might not have to take for years, yet you could just ‘get it out of the way’. Some insurance companies offer a break for taking a course. The US Power Squadron (USPS) has come up with a boating safety course suitable for any students situation. There are several ways that you can take a USPS course, in class, online or through an interactive CD-ROM. Lastly, get those who boat with you aboard your vessel to complete a course – better yet, take it together.

3. Plan your next journey. Look up the information and make plans for your next boating adventure. One of the easiest ways to plan the route is using the C-Map system in your chartplotter. Whether you  are taking a trawler down the Intercoastal Waterway, a sailboat adventure to Alaska or just planning to visit those local lakes that you always wanted to fish. Internet research is easier than ever with private blogs about people doing similar things, YouTube videos or professional tour sites. Plan for those dreams and make them possible.

4. Join a professional organization that helps on the water. Volunteers are needed by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA), Fish and Wildlife, Environmental study groups and others. There is no way better to connect with people and the marine enviroment as there is when you give your time. Whether it is helping repair a local boat ramp, counting spawning fish or inspecting vessels as a member of the USCGA, it is hard to find a more rewarding effort in a place that you care about.

5. Speaking of vessel inspection; get a vessel safety check by the USPS or the USCGA. Be a proactive boater and arrange to get this simple inspection that confirms that you have right equipment aboard (which you should have). The inspection is voluntary and is not boarding or a law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. You will be supply with a copy of the evaluation so that you may follow some of the suggestions given. Vessels that pass will get a VSC decal.

6. Get others involved in boating. Take a friend and expose them to boating. Send someone you care about a marine magazine. Share the enjoyment that you get from boating and take someone else down to the docks. Nothing fosters support better than those you care about getting involved with something you care about. Boating is about how the activity makes you feel as mush as it is about doing the activity.

7. Get a new or used boat. Now is a great time to purchase a boat – and what better activity that readying yourself for ownership in a boat if you have not had one. It is also a great time to upgrade to a larger vessel. A co-worker here bought a smaller sailboat so that their children might learn to sail a boat by themselves. Get one of those new smaller kayaks so that you can explore the shore while anchored in the perfect place. Whether big or small, increasing your boat stable may just help you spend more time doing what you truly care about.

Me? I have an electrical panel to install and have been putting off helping a friend who is a volunteer with a shoreline group… My resolutions for this year.