THE ART OF RAFTING
Things to do prior to rafting
Have your anchor ready to drop. By this we mean have all chain and at least fifty feet of anchor rode on deck laid out so it will pay out smoothly.
Have all of your rafting lines out and secured to the proper cleats. Bow line, Stern line, and two spring lines. Make sure that all of your lines are long enough. The bow line should be at least thirty feet long as this is the first line that you will throw and there must be enough line for the receiving boat to work with!
Have your bumpers out and secured. One of the biggest problems is that most boats have bumpers that are to small; bigger the better.
Contact the boat that you are planning to raft with and see what side they want you to raft on. He is the absolute boss on this. Usually the largest boat drops anchor first and then the smaller boats raft to him.
During the anchoring phase the only person who directs the helms-person is the captain of the anchoring boat!
Make sure that when you are dropping your anchor that it is dropped ahead and at least thirty feet away from the first boats anchor.)
Once you have come to the place where you want to drop your anchor make sure that your boat has come to a complete stop. Once your boat has stopped drop your anchor slowly. Wait for the anchor to hit the bottom than pay out the chain and line slowly. Pay out at-least fifty feet before you try to set the anchor. Do not just tie the anchor line to the cleat and expect your anchor to set. You must give some short HARD tugs on the line to start the setting process. Once you feel the anchor starting to set take one turn around the cleat and direct the helmsman to go in reverse hard. Let the stretch of the line set your anchor by holding the line tight for a second than letting some more line slip over the cleat. Repeat this process two or three times than snug it down and let the weight of the boat finish to setting process.
The person handling the anchor is the person who has complete control of where the boat goes! If your boat is starting to go to close to the other boats anchor line do not panic. Have your helmsman put the engine in forward and steer away from the other boats anchor line. Make sure you do all this very slowly as boats carry allot of weight and will gather momentum. Short burst of power will put you where you want to be. Make sure that you pull up any extra anchor line so that there is no chance that it will be caught in the prop. This is the reason that you put out the first fifty feet of scope. It gives you line to play with plus it guarantees you that you had enough line to properly set your anchor. Once you get your boat back head to wind start the backing process again. If you handle the anchor line properly you can back the boat exactly where you want it! By paying out the anchor line slowly you can direct the boat either left or right. Let the wind help you, again if you handle the anchor line properly you will be able to control the boat with ease. If you just can't get your boat in proper position than do not be afraid to drop completely behind the raft and than just power SLOWLY forward up to the boat that you are rafting to. Make sure that you again pull up any slack in the anchor line. The person handling the anchor is responsible for the bow line and the springs. The helmsman is responsible for the stern line only. When you get your boat in proper position tie off the anchor line and get ready to throw the bow line.
Throwing the bow line is very important as you may get only one try. You should practice ashore in your back yard until you feel very comfortable. As we said above the bow line should be the longest of your rafting lines. When you throw it do not throw it directly at the receiving person. Throw it above and forward of the receiving person. The reason for this is that it gives the receiving person a better chance of getting it. The wind will usually carry the line to the person and it is allot easier to catch something that is chest level or higher. Once the receiving person has caught the line and has it snubbed off (NOT TIED IT OFF) than the helmsman throws the stern line. Make sure that once the receiving stern person receives the line that PRIOR to tying off that the bumpers are in the correct position and the boats are parallel. If your bow is to close or to far from the boat that you are rafting with it puts undo strain on your lines, bumpers and boat!
Spring lines are very important. They should be as long and tight as possible. Many rafts that we have tied up to have all their lines way to loose. All the lines should be as tight as you can get them. What this will do is make all of the boats act as one. Make sure that your masts are not together. Your mast should be either forward or back of the boat that your are rafting with as you do not want to have them hit if the raft is moving in a chop.
Final inspection is more important than anything else that we have talked about.
Are all your lines secured properly and tight?
Are your bumpers in the proper position and tied properly? (You don't want them to come loose!)
Is your anchor line tight and properly secured?
Do you have another forty feet on deck and ready to pay out if the raft starts to drag. The best way to reset the anchor is to give it some slack and give it some hard tugs.
Do you have another anchor ready to drop if a squall comes up and your raft starts to drag?
Is your anchor light up and ready to turn on?
Leaving the Raft
Start your engine and make sure that it is up to operating temperature.
Release your spring lines first and make sure they are on the cabin top or stowed as you to not want them to fall overboard and foul the prop!
The stern line is released next and again make sure that it can't fall over board.
The last line released is the bow line. Make sure that when it is released the boat is moving either forward or backward and away from the other boats in the raft.
Most of the time the wind will pull you away and you will swing free. This is why we had you drop your anchor thirty feet away from the other boats anchor. The crew of the other boat will also push you away which, when it is blowing, is a big help!
Retrieving Your Anchor
Once you are clear of the raft have your helmsman steer a little away from dead center of your anchor. The purpose of this is to make sure that you do not cross the anchor line of the boat you just rafted with. Have your helmsman power up on the anchor VERY slowly.
While the boat is moving up make sure you keep all slack out of the anchor line. When your boat gets directly over your anchor make sure that the anchor line is tight and tied off. Have your helmsman give the engine a little more power and let the weight of the boat break the anchor free.
Do not do it with your back, we repeat, let the weight of your boat break the anchor free! Once the anchor is free tell your helmsman that the anchor is free and direct the helmsman to steer away from the raft and towards deep water. At this time the helmsman has complete control of the boat and is IN CHARGE.
Yelling gets you nowhere. All it does is upset everyone and can get you in trouble. Stay calm at all times. Proper rafting is an art and is a lot of fun when done correctly and you and your crew can have a lot of pride in it!
Having proper equipment is a must in rafting. If your bumpers are too small or you only have one you take the chance of hurting your boat as well as the boat your rafting with.
Proper sized line is important. If it is to light you take the chance of it breaking and causing serious damage or injury to you or your crew. Proper length has already been discussed.
If your boat doesn't have spring line cleats, install them!! A good set of properly sized and backed cleats is cheap insurance!
If you get the "Blackbeard twist" in your anchor lines talk to the other skippers prior to doing anything. There are many ways to get it out but it must be agreed upon prior to doing anything.
If you have a small float or old bumper it is a good idea to tie a line to it and the other end to your anchor. You will always know where your anchor is and so will everyone else! If the line is strong enough it can also assist you in freeing your anchor if it becomes fouled.
It is best for the security of the raft if you drop your anchor first, get it set, and then raft. If you just motor up to the raft and then dingy your anchor out, most of the time you will not be able to set your anchor properly.
If your raft starts to drag start your motor and put it in forward gear. This will slow the backward motion of the raft. Scream at the boat next to you to wake up the skipper and get that skipper and their crew up and on deck. That crew can then get their engine started and in forward if necessary and wake up the rest of the crews to get the anchors reset. Again, do not panic, it doesn't help anything or anyone!
Always listen to the vhf weather channel prior to going to bed. If there is a front coming through it may be better to break up the raft prior to going to bed.
Practice, practice and more practice is the only way you are going to master the art of rafting. Rafting is the best way to really get to know your fellow club members and is a great way to meet other cruisers. If you come into an area with very little or no room don't be afraid to ask to raft to someone. We have never said no and don't plan to. If you have mastered the art of rafting you win instant credibility with the person that you are rafting up to.
If you are rafting to a boat tied up to a dock the only difference is that you don't use your anchor. The way that you handle the lines and bumpers is exactly the same.
The last thing to remember is please stay calm, go very slowly, don't yell and have fun. That's what sailing is all about!
Note: we sincerely hope this helps. All of the above information is from years of watching, reading and practicing the Art of Rafting.
Ted & Kate Clark
Sign Up for Workday Projects Online
Spring workday is Saturday, March 14th, beginning around 8:00 am. Check out the list of projects and sign up by logging on with your user ID and password and navigating to Members | Work Projects | Workday Activities.
Bill Green - 03/05/2015
An updated calendar is now available under Members | Club Documents. You may download and/or print a copy for your use. Please note that all events, dates and times are subject to change, so please check back frequently for the latest information.
Bill Green - 03/03/2015
San Juan 21 North American Championship comes to BSC June 2015
The San Juan 21 North American
Championship, hosted by Fleet 8,
comes to BSC June 10-14, 2015.
Here are links to the Notice of Race &
Registration Form, Sailing Instructions,
and other helpful information.
Volunteers are needed! Please contact Doug Longhini at 919-623-1166.
Doug Longhini - 02/19/2015
February Epitaph is Available
The February Epitaph is available to read, download or print. Please click here.
Bill Green - 02/19/2015
2015 Budget Finalized
At its meeting on 12/06, the BSC Board of Directors accepted the budget for 2015. This document is available under Members | Club Docs.
Doug Longhini - 12/07/2014
Dock Replacement Committee
Early in 2014, the Board authorized a new Committee to develop a long-range plan for the replacement of our ageing docks. The work of the Dock Replacement Committee is ongoing and will likely continue through 2015. The Board feels it is important to update the Membership on this activity, and we have published the Committee's 2014 year-end report under Members | Club Docs.
We'll keep you updated on this important activity.
Board of Directors - 12/07/2014
Board Approves New Membership Procedure
At its August meeting, the Board approved a streamlined Membership Procedure to get applicants approved in a more timely manner. The new procedure requires two sponsors as before, but a nomination form is no longer needed. The Application Form now captures all essential information and the sponsors certify that basic information about the Club has been explained. In addition, the applicants' names and addresses will be submitted to the membership by email blast and members will have ten days to contact a Board member with questions.
A more detailed explanation will be included in the next Epitaph. In the meantime, you'll find the new Membership Process and Application Form in Club Documents on the Members' website.
Dave Whitney - 08/13/2014
Boat US Hurricane Preparation Guide
Hurricane Irene has taught us a lesson: We can never be too prepared for a major storm! Thirteen boats in the trees. Dock boxes and dinghy racks thrown around like matchsticks. We could have been better prepared!
Boat US publlishes Preparing Baots and Marinas for Hurricanes which can be found under "Tips | Hurricane Prep".
Every member should review this document!
Bill Green - 09/05/2011
Security at BSC
The gate should never be left open after dark! If you are not sure whether you’re the last person on site, then please assume you are and close the gate!
If you don’t know how to do this, please ask a Board member who will be happy to assist. The security of the Club’s assets (and every member’s assets) is the responsibility of each and every one of us.
Bill Green - 08/03/2010
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Alcohol Must Be Under Your Direct Control
The Club's permit issued by the NC Alcoholic Beverage Commission is at risk if members do not comply with the ABC Commission rules. Every member who brings beer, wine or liquor on the premises must have the items under their control at all times.
If you bring alcoholic beverages to the club house, please bring them in a small cooler or bag with your name on it. DO NOT place alcoholic beverages in the refrigerators. We have been given one warning in the past. Do not be the member that causes our permit to be revoked.
Bill Green - 08/02/2010