Congratulations! You have joined one of the most active and enjoyable boat clubs on the delta. Our club is really about friends and cruising with friends, and the following introductory tips will help you understand the general techniques which help make the raftups fun for everyone.
There is a list of cruises in your roster, and each cruise will be publicized in the Quiet Hailer just prior to the scheduled date, so you should have no trouble identifying the location. A sign up sheet for the upcoming cruise is usually passed around at the general meeting, but if you missed it, give the cruise leaders a call to make your reservation, or sign up online at the cruise signup page..
You are always welcome even if you didn’t sign up, but the cruise leaders must arrange the docking, and sometimes meals, so please help make their life a little easier by making sure they know your plans. If you are new to the delta, you will need a map since there are few road signs on the sloughs. Hal Schell’s map is sold at most marinas and is a good location reference.
For most events there is no organized travel to the site, although individual members at the same marina often arrange to travel together. If you get lost or are uncertain about the location, just call the “Northern California Sea Ray raftup” on channel 71 of your VHF radio, and someone will give you directions.
Rafting Up The Easy Way
Once you have found the cruise, rafting up is relatively easy since there will be an anchored boat where you can come alongside, tie up and be secure while you go about the task of setting your anchors (at a dock it’s even easier). To simplify your first experience and make the cruise leader’s life more pleasant, here are some tips for getting into a raft-up:
As you enter the anchorage area, call on the VHF radio to request instructions on where to tie. The cruise leader will be monitoring channel 71 and will provide instructions for incoming boats.
In general, the cruise leader will assign positions to incoming boats in the order that they arrive. In some situations they will position the boats by size in order to maximize dock utilization or to make the raft tie more secure. Please accept your assigned position, even if you had another preference.
As you arrive, your friends will be stopping their activities to help you land, so please have your boat ready with lines both fore and aft, and fenders already positioned on the docking side. Even though it may be difficult to get out of the canvas and up the side of your craft remember – it’s the incoming boat’s responsibility to have fenders out and lines ready. This is just good common sense but is probably the most often ignored rule. Don’t be a “here I am, catch me” type of captain
As you approach the raftup, position one person on the bow, ready to toss a line to the anchored boat. Once alongside, the skipper can then quickly step down from the helm to toss the stern line.
In general, when not at a dock, each boat will need an anchoring tie either fore or aft. The cruise leader will usually request alternating boats put out stern anchors and have the others tie forward. In heavy wind or current conditions, it may be necessary for each boat to have both fore and aft ties.
Arriving at the raftup means greeting old friends and checking out their new toys, but please delay long enough to make sure that your boat is properly secured, including the deployment of an anchor, if necessary.
To distribute the workload, (and to protect your boat) each new tie up should assist in the docking of the next boat to arrive.
Good planning by the cruise leaders, a cooperative effort by the members, and some luck, will result in a secure raftup, which will still be in place the next morning.
Enjoying the Weekend
Once your Sea Ray is secure and you are ready to participate in the fun, take time to check in with the cruise leader who will provide any special instructions for the cruise and make sure you are introduced to several members. Don’t be shy, we are all together because we love boating and our Sea Rays, so you will have plenty to talk about even before you know everyone.
When there are no organized activities underway, standard procedure is to grab a coke or a beer a start walking swim platforms (or dock) stopping to talk along the way. Introduce yourself and start some new friendships. It’s safer to wear boat shoes when traveling the platforms; bare feet and wet fiberglass sometimes result in unplanned dunkings (know as “mud hens” in the club).
Unless there is a planned dinner activity (which would have been identified in the cruise flyer), each boat plans and cooks it’s own meals, but small groups sometimes get together to share a meal or to attend a restaurant. The standard group food activity is a social hour in the afternoon where each boat supplies an hors d’oeuvres for the community table.
After dinner, it’s usually an informal “watch the sunset” atmosphere with small groups socializing, playing games, and sometimes having parties. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s a group activity or some quiet reading time.
Each member has their own idea of enjoyment on the Delta, but one common desire is to get away from the stress and noise that prevails in our everyday life. Some generators are quieter than others, so if you have a loud one be aware of the potential for disturbing others, especially late in the evening and early in the morning when your friends may be trying to sleep. The suggested hours of operation of generators is between the hours of 7:30 am and 10:00 pm. And although everyone loves music, it’s best not to inflict your neighbors with non-stop loud music (your style of music may not be what they want to listen to all day).
The official club cruises are limited to Sea Ray boats so if you have a friend with another brand who wants to come to a cruise, invite them to stay on your boat.
The Art of Leaving
Hopefully you’ve had a great weekend and can’t wait for the next cruise, but getting away is not quite as easy as tying up. In a raftup you work from the middle as well as the ends and at a dock there may be other boats blocking your exit. To ease the strain on your fellow Sea Rayers: If you are inside a raft, determine when the boats on either side plan to leave and try to coordinate an organized effort for departure if the times are close. Remember, your departure requires others to stop their activities and assist, so please be a little flexible in your schedule.
Determine in advance how the boats will stabilize when you depart, i.e., will there be sufficient fore and aft anchors left on either side? If not, give your neighbors sufficient warning prior to your departure so they can put out the necessary lines.
Review the wind and tide situation and observe the angle of anchor lines that may be a hazard to a professional looking departure. You may need to temporarily move the tie point of an anchor line several boats down the raft to give room to exit against a strong crosswind.
If you have anchor lines out, use your dingy (or borrow one) to bring these lines in just prior to leaving. Don’t pull them out too early, since by removing your anchors you many be putting an excessive strain on the remaining boats.
Once you have established your plan, discuss it with the adjoining boats so everyone knows what to expect. Don’t surprise your friends by untying and sliding out unannounced, leaving then to cope with out-of-control raft segments.
If you are leaving from inside a raftup, it’s usually best to attach lines across the gap to be created by the departing boat. This allows the raft to be quickly pulled together before the winds and currents swing the raft segments around. Use two long lines, passing them under the bow of the departing boat (assuming a backing exit).
Once you tell people that you are ready to leave, and friends have assembled on the adjacent boats to assist and pull the raft back together, please be ready to go! Have your engines going and leave the final clean up of your lines and fenders until you are clear of the raftup, so friends who have interrupted their activities to help you can quickly get back to having fun.
Finally, if you enjoyed the cruise be sure to thank the cruise leaders who put their time and energy into making sure you had fun. If you really want to have a good time – sign up to assist on a cruise or do your own cruise on a future date.