Cruising

Rafting Redux

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We stopped overnight at North Minerva Reef on our way from Tonga to New Zealand. Our friends aboard Layla, a 40-foot sloop, were also headed to New Zealand. They anchored first, and, when they were satisfied their anchor was set, they called us on the VHF and asked us over for pizza. Because we were in passage mode, our dinghy was securely lashed on deck, but we didn’t want to miss Layla’s killer pizza. Fortunately, my husband, Bob, had a solution.

The wind in the anchorage was blowing at a steady 15 knots and was forecast to continue that way through the night. We anchored our 35-foot cutter, Illusion, 90 degrees to Layla’s heading and dropped our anchor so that when it set we drifted astern to Layla’s beam. Had we been closer, we would have been criticized for anchoring too close.

When the pizza was ready, both of us started our engines and powered ahead slowly to get some slack in the anchor rodes. Then each of us slowly turned toward the other and continued closing until we were alongside. When the appropriate spring lines and fenders had been adjusted and secured, we considered ourselves properly rafted and turned off our engines. After a wonderful dinner we returned to our boat; both boats cast off from the other, and we slowly drifted back out to our pre-raft position. It worked so well that we did the same thing the next night—but this time we were the hosts. Cary Deringer

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