Understandably, we didn’t want anyone outside us. At dusk, a biggish yacht with three guys on board asked to raft up. Feeling grumpy, I said that’d be OK but that we’d be leaving very early. So were they, it seemed, and I knuckled down to helping with their lines. My heart warmed a little when I learned they had made an improbably long, fast passage and had not eaten a bite all day. I looked at their highperformance, lightweight cruiser and compared my own heavier craft with her bullet-proof cleats. ‘Forget shorelines,’ I said, to their obvious relief. ‘Lie on mine tonight and we’ll leave together.’ Just then, my wife appeared with three tumblers containing the biggest whisky macs I had ever seen. By the time the glasses were dry the world for all of us was a better place. I haven’t always been so open-handed and I vowed then and there to improve my act. We had cards from them this Christmas. So how do we make the best of rafting up and rub along happily with our fellow sailors? If the harbourmaster tells you to raft to a certain boat, that’s usually that. Turn up, announce yourself politely and get on with it. Otherwise, proceed as follows: Take a realistic look at the options. When there’s a surge running, nobody is going to want you alongside scuffing their gelcoat. If you must raft up despite this, chose a boat that doesn’t look too pristine. If a strong stream is running, opt for a raft whose shorelines are doing their job and keeping things more or less in line. Don’t park on the end of a drifting raft. Ideally, choose the raft with the fewest boats and one whose outer vessel is at least as large as yours.