This is not strictly a "upcoming RIB cruise" since i've done it < Edit: That's why I moved it! JK >
but i did say i would pop a brief review of the trip for those that are interested and for future reference when RIBneters search the forums.
The RIB was secondary really to the sailing boats we wanted to take across the channel. Having successfully sailed across last summer to Calais we wanted something more challenging, so an 80nm mile crossing to Oostende was in order. For those interested the sailing cats are Tornado's, which is the Olympic class of Cat, makes about 25knts, twin trapeze and designed really for racing not crossing the channel. See pictures.
The crossing is straight forward, nothing in the way, but two sets of busy shipping lanes to cross.
The crossing took us 6hrs 30mins, but remember we were sailing! This should be achievable in less than 3 hrs in most 6m+ RIBS. I would not recommend this long crossing for the smaller boats. Remember you are out of VHF range for a good part of the trip.
Oostende, despite being a fairly busy commercial port is straightforward to enter and the marina is easy to find on the right, nicely positioned for the town centre and everyone is very welcoming. I called them up on Ch09 and had to wait for the ferry (which runs to Ramsgate) but only a few minutes. Facilities are OK (Showers and toilets). Plenty of B & B's within a few minutes walk. Nightlife and restaurants were excellent. Chandlery is limited and hard to find. No fuel quayside. No petrol stations seen nearby.
The 2nd day saw a short 10nm trip up the coast to Blankenberge. A delightful place, with even more nightlife than Oostende (we retired at 3am and they were still partying) and even better restaurants. Possibly the best breakfast of my life (seriously). Limited B & B’s. We slept on the boats. Petrol quayside. Well equipped chandlery (where you pay for the fuel). Easy entrance, no real need to use the VHF since hardly any commercial shipping.
I borrowed a Ribtec 655 for the trip. It was fairly basic spec, two 2 man jockeys and a lowrance GPS / Depth and that’s about all. I was very impressed with the boat, excellent dry ride and good handling. We were making 25+ knts in a 2 – 3 m sea at times. Good amount of storage. We were carrying a good 150 – 200 Kg of luggage and 100Kg of extra fuel on the deck. With the 140 Suzuki 4 stroke we got 1 – 1.1 li per mile which is about what I expected. Top speed (loaded as indicated) 35knts, which I would have expected to be better but it was always quite choppy. The 110li fuel tank is a little small for my liking. We carried spare fuel in jerry cans and had to refuel before the return trip. My old Osprey had a 220li tank which is far more like it!!
I am a self confessed follower of the Optimax, and in a close 2nd place a Yamaha. But the Suzuki impressed, never put a beat wrong, pulled well and returned some economy. Fuel consumption no better than an Opti though. Quieter, much quieter which for long distance cruising is important, particularly when supporting sailing boats as we were. We did have a problem mid-channel in that we lost reverse. A real pain, and a little worrying because I thought it might be the gearbox. I needed to fix this in Oostende, having decided it was a matter of adjustment I was horrified to discover that to adjust the gear cable end you need to remove the whole side of the engine! That’s 8 10mm bolts and a large plastic moulding. A real pain in the marina. But, eventually, a successful repair. I was pleased (and surprised) to find Suzuki supply a 10mm socket tool especially for this job in their tool kit.