Agree with JK. Also letting people know your expected movements in advance, filing a passage plan with the Coastguard and weather updates can be extremely helpful in advance. Being prepared to stay over if conditions change can be worth considering.
Double check paperwork regs for overseas trips.
It's worth pm-ing people in those areas for tips on local conditions as you can't beat local knowledge!
Totally agree with the cruising in company. We have found that cruising with friends/good company has increased and improved our own capacity, resilience and enjoyment no end.
Wish you the best of luck!
Kathleen & Paul