I thought I would start this thread to highlight a few good and bad practices when travelling in a group (a flotilla). This is not an exhaustive list of dos and don’ts so please comment on this thread
and may be we can fine tune it and make a final version, a sticky in the cruise section. If someone wants to volunteer to do this it would be great as writing long documents isn’t my strongest point…
You should be prepared for your trip - your boat and your equipment needs to be in a safe, working and reliable condition and carrying one-third extra fuel for your planned journey. Your skills and knowledge of the route must also be up to scratch and you must have the correct charts. Also make sure that your insurance is up to date. You need to think about food and drink as well as suntan lotion.
You should brief your crew before you launch and again when you are all onboard, Lifejackets and killcords must be worn and you should have a spare killcord in the boat and your crew should know what to do if there is a problem. They should also know the VHF channel that you are using to communicate with the rest of the group as well as an explanation of channel 16 and how to use the mic. Make sure that your crew knows how to let you know if there is a problem or if they are uncomfortable, I always ask my crew to tap me on the shoulder if they need to communicate with me.
Meeting up in a group is exciting stuff! And when you're waiting for the off it can be ever so tempting to show off by going round and round in circles really fast or even pass the waiting group at speed! But don’t do this, instead be proud and show off your seamanship and your safety skills by acting responsibly.
You may not realise it but your adrenaline will be pumping as the group sets off for the first time, but take it easy, it’s not a race. Make sure that you and your crew are ready and if there is a lot of wake from other boats then it’s all the more reason to take it steady.
On the plane
Keep your eyes on the crafts around you and how their wake is affecting what you are doing. Avoid unnecessary sharp movements and turns and if necessary signal your intention to the boats around you. Keep your distance from each other and keep your speed realistic to you and your crew’s ability and the weather conditions.
Slowing Down / Stopping
Make sure that you keep an eye on the boats in front and behind you and make sure the boat behind has seen your change of speed and have also responded by manoeuvring or slowing down themselves.
Communication with the Flotilla
Make sure that you know what channel the group is communicating on and that your VHF is working correctly, it’s also good practice to have the mobile phone numbers of others in your group incase you are not able to contact them by VHF. Use hand signals if appropriate and avoid trying to shout to other ribs at speed. Don’t be afraid of telling the group if you or a member of your crew is uncomfortable, there may be an adjustment the group can make to the speed or there maybe a seat available on a larger boat if one of your crew needs it.
Take some time out before the cruise to find others in the group so you can help each other out. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for advice from someone with more experience or local knowledge.
As I say it's not an exhaustive list but it's a start