Dear Stealth and Alan
Sorry not to have replied earlier, but I've been off counting my piles of cash. Not!
Anyway, I've come up with a great idea. Mr Stealth is so keen on people getting paid for their contributions, that he
can pay them. Being a very affluent tax exile, with things like a Fairline Targa 30 in his toy box (no RIB though
), a few quid here and there would surely be no hardship
You've come up with some very interesting questions, and I'm sure that some of the entrants will have equally interesting answers!
People seem to be very divided on the subject of buddying up vs flotilla style vs going it alone. In my experience it is almost impossible to keep a good pace with a large group (or even a small one!) as everyone is held up by every slowdown/stoppage.
If one boat has to stop for ten minutes to sort out a minor problem, everyone has to wait. If you have a group of ten boats, and each boat has a ten minute unscheduled halt sometime during the day, then the group has a potential for delay of 1 hour 40 minutes. In pairs, the delay would be just 20 minutes.
Even buddy pairs don't need to run gunwale to gunwale. So long as the lead boat stops from time to time to allow the second boat to catch up, a distance of a mile or so isn't a problem in good visibility. You can see the spray from a boat in front of you for a surprising distance (until they stop, but that's another matter!), but good radio contact does make things easier.
Then again if it's really horrible you can take the extreme approach of following a larger boat very close, riding on its stern wave -- this does take rather a lot of concentration to keep up for any length of time though.
On an organised event (even on the scale of round Britain) if you do run solo you are still likely to see other participants, and if things do go wrong there is a better than normal chance of being able to call for assistance.
On balance I would go for an informal buddying system, which means looking out for each other rather than necessarily running within hailing distance all the time!