Originally Posted by Maine Sail
This is how it's done in the NE. Raft to a Hinckley, Morris, Lyman-Morse etc.. scratch it, and you likely just bought a 20k+ paint job!!!!
I find the behavior, without owner permission, rude but I agree it depends upon where you are and the local customs.
It's all about local customs as you indicate. To be clear (I'm only talking about these waters) Those that are secured to a public wharf are generally aware that they will be rafted to prior to even entering the breakwater. It's quite apparent how things are done the moment they see the first boats. Most will have fenders on the outside which pretty much indicates an invitation. I don't just pick any boat to raft to. I definitely wouldn't pick a shiny yacht of any kind. I have seen boats (usually sailboats) that will secure a dinghy to the outside of the vessel to prevent rafters. This tactic is generally frowned upon and considered unfriendly, but you see transients doing it occasionally.
This is usually how it works unless your a local...You would radio the Wharfinger and they will give you a couple of rafting options based on your vessel. Once you get in there and see your spot might have some issues, you would ask for another option. If your coming in at night or you can't get them on the radio, you would try to find the transient float or just go in and find a rough looking vessel or a fishboat that will likely not be leaving anytime soon. Then you walk the dock until you find a local and ask them if you're OK where you are.
It's not considered rude around here and it's actually quite a good way of doing things. You meet new people this way and most people particularly locals don't mind and it's simply the way it's always been done.