Rafting is a technique of putting floating bits of pieces together that you notice while searching for other pieces. For instance the brilliant yellow tunic of the guy I call "The Architect" was assembled early on, but just floated in his area of the picture a year or so before I could connect the main body of the picture up with him. I had a week of bringing a half dozen big rafts into the mainland, and suddenly, the puzzle seemed much less daunting-- tamed almost.
Even so, I have been progressing by doing "easy parts," which are easy only by comparison to the "harder parts." So while I grow closer to the goal the way becomes more difficult. Having fewer pieces lying about helps dilute the difficulty somewhat.
You can see in the picture that the dark brown cloth from last year has turned a silver grey, that the second table surface has been cleaned of pieces, that three pluck boards remain in play, that a Star Trek mug sits in one corner, that the very last leaves of fall remain un-swept from the back deck.