I dont think anyone is assuming the anti-rafters are jerks. There definitely are times when it is inappropriate and can cause damage to boats and the dock. Where to draw the line is a tough call and hopefully common sense will prevail. We have been rafted and when I thought the pile got to big or wind picked up I moved my boat. Not always convenient but such is life.
There is no denying some of the haughty comments made by some of our experienced "world" cruiser friends here regarding this topic. Some of the discussions by those folks in response to those questioning rafting and boarding others vessels unannounced have a disdainful tone that seems to imply that we "just don't want to be neighborly" or be "good cruisers", or be "generous" or whatever. This is not the case at all.
Regarding where to draw the line, I have to say it again - who is anyone to decide what's appropriate, if you believe in a come one/come all dock situation?
We all need to share limited resources such as dock space and play nice with others. If you dont want to be rafted to no matter what the conditions and what is allowed, then using a public dock probably isnt a good choice whether paying a fee or not.
Wait a minute, in a pleasure boating scenario - why do we all need to share limited resources of dock space exactly? This "rule" doesn't apply to any other recreational pastime I am aware of. If I show up to play tennis and the courts are full - I wait or leave. Ditto with just about everything else out there. Why do people think boating is different? Just because they see some workboats or other maritime occupations doing it?
What about those who got there first, often with careful forethought and timing so they could score good parking? Is there no argument to made that "those who snooze, lose", or better yet - "The early bird gets the worm"? This is like the notion that all kids get a trophy just for showing up, regardless of those who earned it. If you get the good parking first, didn't you earn it?
Public docks in some places may
have a local custom of rafting, which is of course fine (it's the local custom after all), but that's certainly not the case everywhere - and definitely
not here on the Chesapeake Bay. Many here seem to be making a blanket argument that any and every public dock should follow this line of thinking.
Whether the pro unannounced rafter/boarder contingent here wants to admit it or not, there is a more that fair argument to be made that, as a pleasure boater who is out there by your own choice, you sometimes may not be entitled to dockage just because you want
it right then and there. Again, what about those who made the effort to get in early and get the dock space?
As a child I was taught to share. Whats the objection to sharing under appropriate circumstances?
This is the crux of the argument made by the rafter/boarder set that I find so over the top arrogant, as if that since I don't want to walk up to my (ex) boat to find someone rafted to it and in my cockpit or on my cabin top, that I must "object to sharing" somehow.
No one should be expected to be forced to "share" their personal property in any way shape or form. The onus is not on the person whos property is being violated without permission to defend or justify why it shouldn't
be, it's on the person who has decided to invade another persons personal property and space in the name of recreational boating to explain why it should be.
Personal property rights and usage control should not end at the waters edge just because (generally speaking) sailors are a generous and giving people. Those who would expect that of others are simply taking advantage of the good and generous cruiser nature via their own perceived self entitlement.
I freely admit that I do not have the Jon Eisberg level of experience of international travel, adventure and intrigue - but I have
experienced enough of the competence level of many of my fellow Chesapeake sailors to know I don't want the majority of them within a hundred yards of my (ex) boat, let alone trust them enough to care to maintain my brightside and brightwork like I do. Way too many incompetents, drunks and dicks to not care if they raft and board my boat without asking me (or me around to oversee things). Maybe boaters are more trustworthy and competent in other locations, but around here they very often just aren't.
Maybe some of the sailors here have forgotten that this pastime is just that - a recreational pastime, and that unless you are on a workboat or some other occupation of maritime importance, you aren't entitled to squat (especially at the risk and potential cost to others).