Rafting your boat is a great alternative to docking or anchoring. It is the best option to save space in a small harbor, or kick back and relax with your friends while connected out in the water. You must learn how to raft your boat correctly to avoid damage to your boat, as well as the others involved.
The rafting process starts with anchoring the largest boat. Then, the smaller boats are tied alongside the larger one, with fenders on both sides. Every third boat should drop an anchor for support. The steadiest raft has the largest boat in the middle, with the smaller ones on the sides.
Make sure each boat can communicate with each other while rafting your boats. Communication is key to ensure a safe rafting process. Tell your friends when you’re close to their boat, and keep everyone in the loop of where each boat is.
To actually tie two boats together, have one person stand at the bow and one at the stern of each boat, ready to throw the lines once the next boat is adjacent. Loosely tie the bows together and sterns together. Adjust the boats so that the sterns are all lined up (for pontoons, make sure the doors are lined up). This creates an easy pathway for people to move from boat to boat. Also, attach the spring line of the smaller boats to the stern of the larger ones for added security.
Fenders are clearly a huge part of keeping your boat free of damage in a rafting situation. The more protection, the better. The size of the fender depends on the size of the boat: the bigger the boat, the bigger the fender. Placement of the fenders is critical as well. You want to make sure most of the fenders are used alongside the midsection, with one or two at the bow and stern.
Here’s a video that explains some other tips about rafting your boat!