There’s nothing more fun than spending a day on the water with your friends, and rafting up is a great way to bump up the excitement level to make it a day to remember.
Pontoons are the perfect party platform. Pontoon boats usually feature large decks and swim platforms, which can be aligned to make it easy for participants to traverse from one boat to another. This turns the event into one cohesive party, which is the point of a raft-up. If you want to keep it private, print a banner that reads “Harris Owner Raft-Up,” and display it on the back fence of the middle pontoon boat.
The best raft-ups are the result of careful planning, coordination, and communication. Like the captain of a ship, having one person in charge, whom we’ll call the raft-up leader, will keep things running smoothly. This person should be an experienced boater who is organized, patient, and friendly. Often, raft-ups are comprised of people who own the same brand of boat, so if you own a Harris pontoon, inviting other Harris boat owners immediately gives participants a common bond.
Choose a quiet place, away from the main flow of boat traffic, like a cove or bay. There should also be a backup location in case of unfavorable winds or other factors beyond your control.
Emails and Zoom calls before the event are good ways to get everyone on the same page. On the day of the event, group instant messaging is a quick way to communicate. Everyone should have the leader’s phone number. The leader should also have a megaphone for directing traffic while the raft-up is being assembled.
If someone thinks they might have to leave earlier than the others, they should communicate that so their boat can be placed toward one of the ends. Everyone should know ahead of time what items they’ll need, such as an anchor, and how many lines and fenders they should bring along to secure the boats and protect them from damage.
Coordinating what snacks everyone should bring will make sure there’s a wide variety of food and is a great way to showcase your special dish. Everyone should bring their own beverages to make sure they’ll have what they like and to avoid liability issues if alcohol is involved.
Choose snacks carefully. While you may love Cheetos, they can be messy if someone accidentally smashes one into woven vinyl flooring. If someone has a grill, hot dogs or sliders are a great addition to the menu, but care should be taken with the smoke coming off the grill by placing that pontoon on the downwind end of the raft-up.
If music is involved, one FM radio station channel should be designated to avoid the cacophony of competing music. Sonically speaking, hip-hop and country do not mix. The leader should make sure volume levels stay low enough for easy conversation.
Large floating rafts are a great place for kids to congregate and play, and having them all in one area makes them easier to monitor. If a pontoon has a slide or a diving board, that will likely be their center of attention.
Make sure kids wear life jackets and that a designated adult is always watching. A boat detached from the raft-up can be used to tow kids on tubes and act as a shuttle in case something is needed or someone has to leave. If there are teens, designate one pontoon as their official hangout.
Careful planning and hands-on leadership before, during, and at the end of a raft-up will make it less stressful and more fun for everyone.