By Thomas P.

Any trip, no matter how short it may be, requires very careful planning which should start long before we release our favourite bowlines that keep us safe in our harbour. Definitely a long trip requires more hours of preparation and possibly extra equipment. However the seriousness of the approach must be exactly the same. The sea by itself demands respect and attention.

We must always keep in mind that in a difficult case, such as a sudden deterioration of the weather or a mechanical damage, even at a distance of 10nm from the coast, seems endless at all.

Careful planning is a basic factor for the success of a trip since it helps us to reach our destination safely, avoiding suffering and dangerous points.

Gathering the proper material

Before anything else, we need to collect the necessary material on which to work:

  • Nautical charts of the area we will travel
  • Political maps where there is more information of the land
  • Any book or brochure of the places we are going to visit, such as travel guides and travel articles
  • Information about the weather conditions that dominate in the seas we are going to navigate
  • Refuelling points, which are often determinant for the process of our courses

Trip by Rib

Selection of places to visit

Choosing our intermediary destinations, depending on the mood and interests, make a general plan of the time available to spend, thus avoiding unnecessary wanderings to places of no interest

Marking the courses

At sea there is always more than one way to reach our final destination and many others to return to our base. Laying the nautical chart on the table to mark our course, we must first take account of all those limiting factors that are ultimately the ones which will determine the ideal course:

Trip by Rib

1. The abilities of the crew
It is obvious that young people in good physical condition and experience of the sea are the best crew. They are capable of covering many miles in a day, cope without problems under difficult weather conditions with large tolerance limits.
Otherwise, particularly when on board there are small children, the distances to be covered daily should be limited, and the choice of accommodation and sleeping places should be chosen cautiously.

2. The size of the Rib
The rib's size is directly related to autonomy, its navigating abilities, and the free space on it. These are the most basic factors that will mostly determine the distances of our courses. Nobody feels pleasant when he has to stay to a specific place for many hours, even under ideal conditions.

3. Autonomy
Autonomy is a key factor for each motor boat, especially when it is about to navigate long distances and therefore directly affecting our final course. Calculating the fuel related to the miles to cover, it is advisable to leave at least a 30% in reserve.
There are several times, we have to adjust our course to the refuelling points, even if this is against some other major factors.

4. Weather
The knowledge of the intensity and direction of the winds that usually blow during the time of our trip, in the sea areas we will navigate, is something more than necessary. We also need to know that even 5 Beaufort against our bow, is a difficult weather and will definitely trouble us especially when we have to cover many miles. We should never also forget that a sea state of 5 Beaufort can easily increase to 6 or 7 locally.

5. Dangerous points and passages
The careful observation of nautical charts, especially of the surrounding areas through which we make our course will reveal the presence of dangerous points. Reefs and large shallow sea areas must be mainly marked on the map and always keep safe distances.
We need to know in advance the sea areas or passageways where usually tough weather occurs.

Trip by Rib

Keeping all the above factors in mind, from which other more and other less influence the marking of our course, we are ready to choose the ideal way, which of course is not necessary to be the shortest one.

  • The identification of strategic points
  • The careful study of the material we have obtained will reveal some strategic points which will be used as bases of our daily excursions. These points, which are at the same time places to spend the night, should be characterized by the relative advantages.

  • Alternative courses and ports
  • It is necessary for our safety to know as many things as possible for the areas around our courses even if they are not included in our plan.We should know that as easily we mark a course on the nautical chart, it is sometimes so difficult to follow it on the sea.
    We must have good knowledge of the surrounding areas through which our route passes as well as of the harbours, sheltered bays or refuelling points that might seem to us very useful in cases we can not reach the scheduled destination ( such as sudden deterioration of the weather, tiredness, fuel leakage or any mechanical damage).
    When something not calculated happens, which will definitely force us to change our course, it is sure that we will react calmer if we know in advance the neighbouring areas and we will be able to make the most correct choice without looking anxiously maps and ports at the last minute.

  • List of useful phone numbers
  • In the nautical diary, apart from the useful information, we should dedicate a page on which we will write some phone numbers that may be useful during our trip such as of:

  • The port authorities close to our scheduled courses, who among other things can inform us about the weather forecast.
  • The fuel stations
  • The authorized service of our engine
  • The manufacturer or dealer of our rib
  • The Nautical Rib Clubs of the areas we will travel

Do not ever forget, that a careful planning will fill us with the necessary confidence we need for a trip, especially if we intend to travel to unknown sea areas, and will provide us calmness and sobriety, without the danger of having to take decisions under panic conditions.

...keep Ribbing!