Rafting is the nautical equivalent of double parking. Six deep is not uncommon especially if you are in Bembridge at the height of the season or on a sunny afternoon in the Beaulieu River.

There are several stages to successfully raft your boat against someone already moored.

Stage 1

You have to pick a boat larger or the same size as yours. Rafting against a small boat is asking for trouble. You could quite simply crush them to death.
Once you have chosen your victim, swing into view and calmly shout “mind if we come alongside?” The owner will respond with the time honoured response of “Bugger off and use someone else”. His next response will be ‘we’re leaving at 04.30’. This trick is so well known that most people don’t believe it to be true any more. If you are, in fact, planning to leave at the crack of dawn, offer to go on the outside of the raft. Let the harbour master know and he may place you in a raft consisting of other early birds. . You’ll often find that a ‘no problem, we’ll get up and help you out’ will weed out the true early birds from the  cantankerous worrying about their gel-coat!
However once he realises he has no choice he will start to  throw out every fender he owns. He suddenly becomes very  keen to help you.
Nothing will start your relationship with the boat alongside on a worse footing than approaching without being properly fendered. So hang your balls out early.

Stage 2

Come in close, stop alongside and  get your clumsy crew to board the victim’s boat.  Arm them to the teeth with all sorts of lines and ropes with which to attach your boat to theirs.  The owners will now be sweating profusely, watching your every move, especially your anchor, very, very closely.
If the victim is a real mariner, he will politely suggest you attach lines to shore. This is to prevent his boat having to take the full strain of wind and weather. Taking a line to shore may well involve carrying a humongous weight of line over several moored boats. Whist the crew is on shore securing lines, toss them the  power cable with a casual ” oh just  find a spare socket somewhere”

Spare Socket?


Stage 3

You now need to go ashore.
There exists a very simple code of etiquette. One must never clamber across or through the neighbours’ cockpits. There’s nothing worse than having a quiet drink when a neighbouring crew comes stomping across, knocking the champers and nibbles over.
One always walks across other boats’ foredecks. Note the position of drying washing, open hatches and other trip hazards for when you make your way back in the dark.  Master-cabins tend to be at the front of many  boats, and they have skylights which you are permitted to walk across. During the summer these are often open at shin height and can cause a nasty graze and some serious nautical language to be uttered.
Serious no no’s are using the stranchion wires to swing on, sit on or haul yourself over the side. Do not stop to get a quick glance of the news being broadcast on the TV below you and never ever comment on the state of tidiness of either the cabin or galley.

Mooring – The Pitfalls

Mooring: This  boaty operation has inspired page after page of so called expert tips in some of the country’s finest boating magazines.
The manoeuvring of a boat at slow speed in the close proximity of other mega expensive craft requires a skill not far short of an Eddie Stobart HGV driver backing a 70 ft wagon into a  Tesco’s loading bay in the fog.
Most of us prefer comfortable marinas with an abundance of restaurants and other amenities such as power and water to refill the tanks. Some marinas, such as Brighton, have large supermarkets within walking distance.  This is useful in allowing the crew to restock the boats gin supply after a hard day’s sailing.
Marinas are however can be expensive and boaty people therefore often seek a cheaper form of overnight parking, of which there are a number of options ranging from the downright dangerous, primitively painful to the brutally barbaric.

Mooring Buoys.

Lets start with the downright dangerous, the mooring buoy.
The manuals list a number of methods with which to attach the boat to the buoy. The most common is the old cowboy art of lassoing. You choose a member of the crew to humiliate and ask them to lasso the approaching mooring buoy. This may take anything between one and 20 attempts. All the while  you are screaming “haven’t you got it yet?”
If you need to know the dire consequences of missing a buoy, my disastrous attempt is described here.   A Bridge Over Troubled Water.
It is important to remain aware that attempting the lasso procedure will be to provide endless hours of amusement to the already attached boats surrounding you.

Mooring Buoy
Mooring Buoy

Once the buoy has been lassoed and tied to the boat, go to the bow and look sagely at the knots used.  It’s a pointless exercise because it will have been many years since you tied a knot. However it gives the impression that high standards are expected of the crew and their  knot-tying.
Mooring buoys vary in size shape and colour.  It is therefore important to ensure that as you motor away from your boat in the tender that you have not moored onto a Lobster Pot. Large yellow buoys near the starting point of Cowes Week racing, are definitely not be be moored on. You will suffer the abuse of racing ‘yotties’ passing within inches of your pride and joy because you have inadvertently moored on the start line.


So onto primitively painful, Piles! No, not the medical condition but mooring piles.
Moorning Piles are a unique form of torture. Totally designed to provide amusement to passers-by and other boaties. They like nothing more than watching a crew make a total cock up in a confined area.
Piles are large wooden poles that stick out of  the water in pairs, armed with huge metal rings attached to them . The idea is to “wedge” the boat between the two piles with ropes attaching the bow to the forward pile and a rope at the stern attached to the rear pile.
The game  is simple, it’s the boating version of the Krypton Factor. You approach the first pile. A member of the  crew will have  a piece of line in hand. The skipper approaches the pile slowly and passes effortlessly close by . The  said  crew member, in matador form sweeps out his arms and attaches the line through a ring on the pile. The boat moves onward to the next pile where another member of the crew passes a rope through the rear hoop. You pull the  front and rear ropes  tight and fasten off.  You have completed the manoeuvre.
Good game, good game. No one mentions that  this often happens  in a cross wind with a 4 knot tide beneath you. Who wanted to spend a night in smelly river estuary anyway.
My next post will be about the bizarre ritual that is rafting.

Antifouling – Oh the joys…

With Christmas over and done with  most boat owners thoughts turn to the most hated of boat maintenance, Antifouling.  There’s something about antifouling that has boat owners shuddering in their flip-flops. Maybe it’s the eye-watering cost of the stuff or perhaps the less than favourite job of putting it on, no doubt on a breezy, cold day that sees any other person, boat or car to leeward getting generously spotted with International’s finest.

Marine Hitchhikers

Basically, the little critters of the marine world love nothing more than to hitch a ride on your boat. They don’t ask you to  give them a lift. Not so when it comes to barnacles, molluscs, tube worms, slime, the occasional gummi-bear etc, they just latch right on like they’re entitled. The little buggers slow down the performance of the boat adding to fuel costs, clog up seacocks, sensors and look unsightly. But fortunately being humans,   we’re bigger, smarter and  have access to credit cards and chandleries. So we water blast the blighters off regularly and then apply a couple of coats of seriously anti foul paint every year or two.

Marine Hitch Hikers

How foul is anti-foul?

Anything that requires a full bio suit, mask and gloves has to be somewhat toxic – right? Yes, its very toxic. While anti-foul paint looks and smells like regular paint and you put it on the same way, it actually behaves differently. It has “biocides” inside it which ooze (a technical term) out in a continuous and controlled manner. The paint is actually porous and lets water in so as to dissolve the biocides. It must make the boat taste bad or something because it inhibits the marine hitchhikers from clinging on to your boat. Take that you barnacles!
The type of anti-foul paint you choose depends where you sail your boat (i.e., what local nasties are prevalent) and any local regulation around copper biocides. Like many things in life, anti-foul is certainly not without its controversy. And when it comes to anti-foul paint, some people consider copper to be a bad guy. There are very few biocides that will work well. They either don’t react well to salt water or they’re too toxic to be handled safely. As a result copper biocides are now in vogue, however, there is now some question about their level of toxicity and impact on marine life. As a result, its use is now banned in certain areas.
So my takeaway is, marine creatures bad on your boat, but good in the water. Substances that keep marine creatures off your boat both good and bad. It is all too confusing. Fortunately, the marine industry is beavering away coming up with fabulous new non-toxic anti-foul products.