Clubs like BIBOA and the Pathfinder Powerboat Club, along with the likes of the RYA, Motor Boats Monthly and RIB International, organise official events with nominated organisers -- some regularly, some not so regularly. Some have volunteer organisers, some are paid. Some have liability insurence for the event organisers in case it all goes wrong. Most charge in some way for the privilege of taking part.
RIBnet is a bit different. RIBnet doesn't organise cruises. In fact RIBnet doesn't organise anything. However anyone who posts on RIBnet may suggest an itinerary, or publicise their plans, and declare it a RIBnet event!
Over the last couple of years a number of people have put in a load of time and effort to organise big RIBnet events which have been great successes. This has been hugely appreciated by many people.
This year we have already had an amazing turn out for the "Solent Spin" in March, and the forthcoming Littlehampton Cruise looks like being quite a production too. There will probably be some more later in the year (who knows!), but there is much more to RIB cruising than just large set-piece events. Big gatherings are great, and it's always good to see twenty or thirty RIBs rafted up together somewhere, but by their nature they can be rather limiting in their scope.
A big group will inevitably have a wide range of abilities, and an equally wide variation in timekeeping. This tends to result in predictable (possibly familiar and unchallenging) destinations, and lots of hanging around trying to keep the group together.
In a large group people may feel as if they are peripheral to the main event, just following the crowd, and unless there is some serious organising and planning it is all to easy for someone to be left behind. In fact this happens all too often even on supposedly "official" events. Along with this (for some reason) there seems to come a tendency is to simply blast from pub to pub as fast as possible, missing out on loads on the way!
Cruising in smaller groups opens up many more opportunities:
- Each skipper and crew can be involved in the decision making
- An experienced crew can easily look after a few less experienced crews
- There's no need to find moorings, accommodation and food for a large group
- The participants have more opportunity to get to know each other
- It's easier to keep to a schedule
- There's less likelihood of anyone being forgotten or left out
- It's easier to reach a concensus on any decision
- The experience gained is more useful
- There's more flexibility to alter plans to suit conditions
- It encourages individual responsibility for navigation and safety
- No one is lumbered with masses of work
I started out cruising some years ago with Alan Priddy and the extent of his event organisation was to say "Next Saturday I'm going to Alderney. If you want to come along, I'll be leaving Sparkes Marina at 8.30". We duly arrived a couple of minutes late to find him casting off about to leave, and as we caught up he passed me a slip of paper with a waypoint for the approach to Braye Harbour scrawled on it. We didn't see a lot of him on the crossing, other than as a splash on the horizon, as his 7.5 metre RIB was comfortable going a bit faster than out 5.8 metre RIB, but he stopped every hour or so for us to catch up while he had a coffee. We had a fantastic time and learnt a lot, but it could never have worked with a big group.
Another example of brilliant small group cruising is the RIB Expedition Club (the original RIBEX) run by Chris Kaye. This meets once a year at the Cafe du Port in St Vaast and Chris basicly announces the date and invites people to join him for dinner. He normally passes on a bit of information about when the tidal gates to the harbour will be open, and may give his proposed waypoints for the journey from Poole, but other than that it's pretty much up to each person to make their own arrangements. Some join him en route, others make up their own small groups, and occasionally everyone converges a few miles from St Vaast as if by magic!
Some people are already doing it, but it would be great to see more people suggesting dates and venues in the "RIB cruises" section. You don't need any special experience to do this, and you don't need any special insurance either. You don't need to organise moorings, accommodation or food -- although any pointers or local knowledge is always going to be appreciated. Do try to have some idea of what you want to do, or where you want to go though as someone has to get the ball rolling!
There are already plans for a couple of trips to Scilly and a cruise to St Malo, as well as a few more local trips. Even if you're not planning on taking part it may be useful to have a read through these threads to see how these trips are being planned.
Something else that would be interesting to try is for some experienced skippers to offer their services as guides, taking groups of maybe half a dozen RIBs on cruises to interesting places. It may even be something that people would be prepared to pay for. A couple of days like this being shown round a cruising area would very quickly give even novice crews the experience and knowledge to get a load more out of their RIBs.
It could work both ways too, as leading people round your "home patch" will have you seeing it from a different perspective and would also be the perfect opportunity to revisit some of the areas that you normally whizz past on the way to other more distant places!
What do you reckon? What sort of cruising do you want to do? Bear in mind that if you say "I wish there were more events in XXXXXX", then the answer will be "Well organise one then" (see "Informal cruises" above!)
Any volunteer guides? Any would-be paid guides?