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Old 01-05-2014, 16:01   #1
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Rafting at Anchor

Hello,

I will be leading a three sailboat flotilla in the Greek islands this September. I plan to look for small, quiet and well protected harbors for overnight anchoring...

We plan to try to look for anchoring spots early in the afternoon, before it gets crowded or dark, but I'm concerned that we may not always find room for three boats to anchor with bow only anchoring that seems to be popular in the Med... I'm wondering if there is a way to make a safe raft with the three boats. Obviously, this would be more fun as well would take up less room...

All monohulls - rather small - 36-41 ft each. Should I use all bow anchors only? or use stern as well? should i set them at an angle?

any ideas appreciated!
thanks a lot!
-ilya
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Old 01-05-2014, 16:04   #2
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Re: Rafting at anchor

given that we would have a large crew, leaving 2 people at a time for anchor watch would not be a huge issue... but if we were to start dragging, what would be a good procedure for getting out of trouble? untie the boats first, then start the engines?
thanks.
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Old 01-05-2014, 17:04   #3
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Re: Rafting at anchor

A few suggestions:

Biggest boat in the center, smaller ones on its sides. But, all anchor safely first, and buoy the anchors, so folks can tell where the anchors are. I would do this downwind of the other anchored boats, so that if you drag, you drag towards open space, not more boats.

After each has anchored safely on his own gear, then veer out more chain, and back down to form the raft-up. After you've finished visiting for the evening, pull the raft up apart, so if a wind shift occurs, each boat will be ready to handle changed conditions, without the confusion of getting crew back to their boats, and trying to figure out what to do with the engines.

Personally, I detest raft-ups. If there is a source of wakes (like ferries, pilot boats, or other motor boats), the boats respond differently to the wakes, and damage can occur due to that; or if they've not been rafted up with adequate care to the spring lines, the rigs can become entangled. Jim has spent weeks repairing a damaged toe rail due to having rafted up with friends. To me it's a situation where it would be better if the visiting occurs on the boat with the most space, but each vessel maintains its autonomy.

If these are chartered boats, be aware the ground tackle may be minimal for the vessels.

My two cents.

Ann
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Old 01-05-2014, 17:29   #4
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Overnight raftups are very dangerous unless in absolutely settled weather and water.

I've done ONE raftup overnight in the past 35 (!) years. For a change on SF Bay there was NO wind, NO wind (if you can believe it) on a gorgeous April weekend a few years ago. Four boats on one, five on another raft. We dinghied around between the rafts for the afternoon festivities.

It remained calm overnight, although I depended on the forecast, but having lived here for the past 35 years I knew nothing was going to happen overnight (we have extremely predictable weather here in northern California for you doubters).

After breakfast, just when I suggested we break up the raft, a light breeze came through and both rafts started dragging.

Never raftup more than one boat on only one anchor. Not only is it lazy, it's dangerous. However, more than one rode complicates a LOT of things in a very short time frame.

Ann's advice is quite correct. I suggest you depend on your dinghies.

I just don't understand the "lure" of raftups. I don't wanna be on an anchor and look out and see someone even closer to me than when I'm in a marina!

Have a great trip.
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Old 01-05-2014, 17:36   #5
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Overnight raftups are very dangerous unless in absolutely settled weather and water.

....
+1, generally bad idea overnight. And I don't like them either.
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Old 01-05-2014, 17:50   #6
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Given well protected harbours, good and reliable forecast weather, and good fenders/anchors/procedures: a very convivial option

Great advice from Ann as usual.

It's often recommended to stagger the rigs so they won't tangle as a result of unsynchronised rolling ...

but unless you plan to get drunk and form conga lines, or it's a place where dickheads might make big wakes, it's probably better to put your focus into having a practiced plan for breaking up the raft quickly if conditions change.

Make sure to appoint a bunk occupancy monitor with a strong torch.

In between tangle rounds, they can check on ground tackles.
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Old 01-05-2014, 17:54   #7
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Re: Rafting at anchor

I would avoid rafting up. Any sea movement and the boats tend to scrape sides, gouge rubrails, bend life lines, entangle masts. Not had good luck doing so.
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Old 01-05-2014, 18:42   #8
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Can't be any worse than two catamarans fendered up. On the plus side is that cats do not rock.
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Old 01-05-2014, 20:31   #9
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Re: Rafting at anchor

We've tried the rafting on numerous occasions. Good weather works fine but you can do some damage if the weather picks up in the middle of the night.

This our day rafting, one on a buoy and one anchored, see pic
Then we can untie at any time if the seas pickup.

Mustang Sally & Tres Amigos , Ewing Cove, Sucia Island in the San Juans.
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Old 01-05-2014, 22:11   #10
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Re: Rafting at anchor

We've rafted overnight a number of times. Check the weather, be careful, and be prepared to break it up. Usually we're the center boat so to your size. I've rafted with a J/109 on my side in a 45 knot squall, I've rafted with four other boats (all in excess of 30, and in some cases 40 feet) solely holding on my 105lb Manson in 15 knots of breeze.

I find the idea of rafting with multiple boats having anchors out to be truly terrifying, far more scary than one boat with a big strong anchor holding everyone. Why? Wind shifts...what happens if the wind shifts 90 or 180 degrees and you need to start hauling anchors. You are pretty much screwed in the middle of the night if you make anchor rode macrame and the weather deteriorates.

Rafting is fun and social. If you don't like people and you want lots of privacy its not for you. If you don't mind your friends joining you for coffee in the cockpit before breakfast or finishing off the bottle of wine after dark with you it's great. If you are with a group of friends its far easier to socialize; people can cook on their boats and share food without awkward dinghy transfers and if someone wants to go to bed early the whole boat doesn't have to go home with them. It lets you hang out together with the convenience of being docked, where you don't have to get in a dinghy and drive and climb and worry about stranding people.

Christmas 2012 was a particularly nice raft, we were in our first year cruising and our first Christmas breaking all traditions and not seeing family. We had a friend boat we'd been traveling with since Maine and we were in the BVI's. We rafted up for a couple of days at the East end of Jost Van Dyke. Each family did their own thing Christmas morning, we cooperated to cook a nice Christmas dinner together. The companionship went a long way to alleviating the pangs of being away the first time.

My notes...many are obvious
- Put the biggest boat with the best ground tackle in the middle.
- Use springs to stop forward and back motion between boats; tie it so you are casting off from the inboard boat. Tie bow to bow/stern to stern tight to stop side to side motion.
- Check your rig alignment to make sure no one overlaps so rigs don't smack together.
- Use lots of fenders on all boats...be careful you get the height right on them as different boats have different freeboard.
- Use a good drag alarm system. You might want to leave a horn someplace you can put your hand on it in the dark, just in case you have heavy sleepers in the raft and you need to wake them.

We're the boat in the middle. The twenty something footer on the end left before nightfall and was replaced with a 40 footer that spent the night.

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Old 01-05-2014, 22:49   #11
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Saw the most beautiful raft up some ten - fifteen years ago way out in the Stockholm archipelago. Everyone dropped their stern anchor along the perifery of a huge circle and then everybody steamed up towards the center and connected their bows forming a big wheel. Some twelve to fifteen boats so a pretty remarkable operation. I suppose they were all part of a rally. The night was completely windless and breaking the configuration up would have been possible in a jiffy save for a few minutes of initial mayhem.

I believe I have some photos somewhere from the occasion and will try to dig them out this weekend if I get the time over. It's launching day on sunday so bear with me if I can't make it!
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Old 01-05-2014, 23:23   #12
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Re: Rafting at anchor

A good way of "rafting up" is to Med moor. Each boat has its anchor out and the stern tied to rock or tree. The boats are tied next to each other.

As well as the social aspects of rafting up it is also easy to get ashore for a walk, an explore, or go out for a meal if there is any tavernas. The tender can be pulled the few feet to shore along the stern lines then pulled back to the boat as needed so crew can go ashore without planning who has use of the dingy.

Many Greek island anchorages are deep close to shore and are suitable for this practice.
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:59   #13
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Thank you all for the very helpful responses…
I do not have any rafting experience.

Here in California most people tend to use bow and stern anchoring. I believe that it is due to general lack of space at anchorages… I noticed that in the Med mostly everyone does bow only. Makes it better for shifting winds, but takes up more space.
I would be scared to raft multiple boats with multiple bow anchors as I imagine they would tangle… but what about if all boats used both bow and stern?

Didn't think about boat damage…. if we use plenty of fenders, make sure the shrouds are offset so they do not touch when the boats are moving, and make sure to use plenty of spring line, will there still be danger of boat damage?

my reasons for considering rafting are

1 - we are all a single big group of friends and would love to socialize together, cook dinner together, etc…
2 - im worried that some smaller harbors may not have sufficient space for three boats with bow only anchors…

thank you all!!
-ilya
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:05   #14
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Re: Rafting at anchor

Actually, I have never used an anchor buoy, but have been thinking about it… Is it simply any buoy that is attaches to anchor that you toss out when dropping anchor? or is there more to it?
does it get in the way when you are raising the anchor? how do you adjust the length of the line to the buoy? if you make it too long and anchor is a shallow area, the buoy will not be that close to the anchor and will almost defeat its purpose

thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
A few suggestions:

Biggest boat in the center, smaller ones on its sides. But, all anchor safely first, and buoy the anchors, so folks can tell where the anchors are. I would do this downwind of the other anchored boats, so that if you drag, you drag towards open space, not more boats.

After each has anchored safely on his own gear, then veer out more chain, and back down to form the raft-up. After you've finished visiting for the evening, pull the raft up apart, so if a wind shift occurs, each boat will be ready to handle changed conditions, without the confusion of getting crew back to their boats, and trying to figure out what to do with the engines.

Personally, I detest raft-ups. If there is a source of wakes (like ferries, pilot boats, or other motor boats), the boats respond differently to the wakes, and damage can occur due to that; or if they've not been rafted up with adequate care to the spring lines, the rigs can become entangled. Jim has spent weeks repairing a damaged toe rail due to having rafted up with friends. To me it's a situation where it would be better if the visiting occurs on the boat with the most space, but each vessel maintains its autonomy.

If these are chartered boats, be aware the ground tackle may be minimal for the vessels.

My two cents.

Ann
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Old 02-05-2014, 04:31   #15
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Rafting at Anchor

Rafting is fun. Use a single anchor off the middle boat. Preferably the largest. Use plenty of scope. Don't overlap rigs. Use common sense.
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