By Giovanni Bracco

The word «raid» has the power to bring to mind mysterious islands and unlimited rides to every devotee of ribs deserving this title, and it is now common belief that «raid» is the greatest expression of cruising and adventure with a rib.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

The English term «raid» literally means invasion, a term used in military terminology to designate an action performed by special forces.Οf course the protagonist in the type of raid we are about to prepare is one or more normal ribs that intend to reach the so much desirable destination.

What is a raid?

How does a simple rib cruise or a relaxed holiday trip differ from a raid? This is a fairly complex question, the answer to which could be that the basic elements that differentiate a raid from other types of travel are the mileage (long distance) and the time duration (short), two parameters defined at the beginning of the design. The spring activating the mechanism is usually triggered by the desire to live a different experience, and if a lonely cruise is presented as the most exciting and demanding goal, a raid is much more achievable because it allows the participation of family or friends.

The preparation of the group

Crew selection is one of the most important issues we need to address during the preparation phase of a raid because this is the most important factor that will determine the success of the trip.
Beginning with the captain, he must have a leading spirit and decisive character, especially in “hard” cases where the crew may not know what is about to happen, and more importantly, how to behave. It is precisely at these crucial moments that the captain must always demonstrate that he keeps the situation under control at all times, so as not to spread the panic among the passengers, a situation we certainly must avoid.

Another situation we have to seriously take into consideration is the adaptability of the crew in order to meet the demands of co-living. However, even more important is the presence of a person ready to intervene with courtesy and intelligence in order to appease even the slightest intensity to avoid disagreements and misunderstandings.

Be careful so as to avoid many crossing courses with other vessels, a situation that can be particularly dangerous when fatigue begins to make its presence evident, compromising the captain's level of attention.

It is way better to be considered a meticulous person when choosing, rather than having to manage characters and boats unsuitable for group travel.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

During the unique excursion I organized, the Sea Experience Challenge 2005, I learned at my own cost that a successful outcome of a difficult excursion requires a great deal of harmony between the crews and high degree of homogeneity in the performance of the boats, either in terms of navigational behavior or to maintain a good travel speed.

Course and destination

I am sure that we, the lovers of the rigged inflatable boat, would like to follow the spirit of the great Odysseus adventure, wishing to explore the unknown even at the cost of immense sacrifices - he even accepted to be tied in order to listen to the song of the Sirens - but unfortunately we have to deal with the current sad reality and be content with exploring an island or a hospitable Mediterranean beach. The destination and the route must be carefully chosen with regards to the crews and boats, determining appropriate stops for rest so as to avoid possible reactions and disagreements.

Also, the more information we have about the places we are about to visit, the easier it is to choose the stops for food and fuel refueling and the most suitable places for overnight stays. The most important information relates to the weather during the trip, the location of the gas stations, the sleeping areas and the presence of safe coves throughout the journey. It would be ideal the presence of someone who has already visited the area to which we travel.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

What I will mention below is true for the vast majority of inflatable boat owners, but of course not for everyone. When choosing the route, we must take into account that for the governor the excursion is an adventure to discover the unknown and a way of relieving the stress built up during months of work. For children it is about holidays during which they will discover the secrets of navigation, being protagonists on the tasks involved with the boat and travelers in magical places.For our spouse or partner the excursion is an inexhaustible source of anxiety and fear, because riding so far away from the coast is a situation not acquainted with, not to mention that she is a little cautious about the experience of the person who is at the helm. Moreover, there is the «terrifying» factor C, that is... hair; and, gentlemen, please don’t laugh, because the problem is far too serious, at least for the ladies who do not have their hair dryer at their disposal.
If it’s true that there are no hostels at sea, this is the case for hairdressers as well.

Now, let’s be serious, leaving jokes aside. When determining the stops of the trip, it is necessary to know the capacity of the fuel tanks of the boats and hence the cruising autonomy, taking into account possible reliable alternatives to the likelyhood of any avoidable but always possible damage.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

Finally, we should never forget that the rule for a perfect excursion stipulates that the number of miles we will travel is inversely proportional to the number of participants in the trip. It is extremely risky to plan a long and demanding trip with many boat participations, as this can cause many troublesome problems. I think it is easy for everyone to understand that it is easier for two rather than ten crews to come into agreement regarding a decision. Also, the more boats the greater the likelihood of damage. The same negative result will be true if we plan a trip with few stops, which will almost certainly aggrieve the participants with the shortest cruising experience, especially women and young children.

Preparing the Rib

The excellent knowledge of our rib’s performance is the basis for taking part in a raid that will not cause problems to other crews, although unfortunately it is very common coming up with people who overestimate their capabilities as skippers and their rib’s dynamics. The first thing we have to do - we or the engineer we trust - is a good check of the boat, the engine and all the equipment, which must be kept in perfect condition without any indication of malfunction. In case we locate a problem, we have to deal with it effectively because any possible damage will be brought into surface, and according to Murphy's law ... prevention is better than cure.

Fuel reserve: Fuel tanks must absolutely guarantee the vessel's autonomy even on the longest journeys, otherwise we need to be equipped with additional containers or tanks. We also need to thoroughly calculate the consumption of the vessels during planning the trip and the stops and to predict a fuel stock of about 30% which will ensure a carefree voyage. Of course, the water supply (shower) is vital if one or more ladies are on board. Do not forget factor ... C!

Anchor system: Two fully equipped and ready-to-use anchors will provide us with confidence even in areas most exposed to the wind. Where appropriate, we can also place an anchor in the area of the stern. There are anchors of various shapes and weights and I would advise to move towards Bruce, CQR, Danforth. Here is not the right place for a detailed presentation of the features of each type, but I can mention that I have put them in order of preference. The anchor must have the proper weight for the boat to be mounted on, but let's not forget that the anchor holds the boat primarily with its shape and not with its weight. And I mention this, because during my raids I have seen anchors of 10kg in 5-meter ribs and "small umbrellas" of 2kg in boats of more than 7m in length.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

Toolbox is mandatory and should be filled with useful tools which we need to know how to use. It is useless to carry a torque wrench if we are completely irrelevant to the boat engine.

The tools

The minimum equipment should include the following:

A 6 to 22 mm combination ratchet wrench set, regular pliers and needlenose pliers, a complete set of screwdrivers, a hammer, a bradawl, a small hacksaw, galvanized iron wire, a cutter, a meter, high strength insulating tape (type 3M), CRC lubricant spray, some sheets of abrasive paper, a tube repair kit, and special marine type resins.

An important role in the crew's calmness would play a good night sleep, which is why a comfortable and conveniently assemblable sleeping tent is necessary. It is obviously better to unfold a one-piece awning than to assemble and disassemble a tent with many accessories every day. If you do not use it when navigating, you should not be worried about whether it has a aerodynamic shape, but it must allow you to move without crouching up and down the bow and stern, be waterproof, and not create rainwater collection pits. Two openings, one on the bow and one on the stern, as well as one side opening, are necessary for entering and exiting the boat. The awning arms and attachment system must be very wind-resistant, otherwise there is a risk of being... uncovered, and therefore the crew may refuse to stay onboard overnight.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

As for clothing, it is not necessary to have any specialized clothes, as long as we remember that we should not expose our skin to the sun for a long time, in order to avoid serious burns.
It is necessary to have good quality jackets and mask protective glasses, as storms and sudden changes of weather are possible even in summer. A good tip: we should not stand upright with bare feet during the long courses, because this can cause painful tendinitis in the Achilles tendon, which we can avoid if we wear shoes or special sabot that offer proper support to the foot.
The food store and kitchen equipment should be adapted to the crew's nutrition habits, taking into consideration that it is pointless to overload our storage spaces with supplies that we can find fresh every day, while it is important that we always have enough drinking water at our disposal. If you wish to cook normally you will need a double cooking hob, a frying pan, and a pot of a size suitable for the number of the crew members. If you are only interested in the preparation of the morning coffee you will be satisfied with a tap and the relevant equipment for beverages preparation.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

Regarding the navigation and communication tools, a good compass and a fixed or portable GPS would be more than enough for the proper course of the boat, even if it happens to get off of the rest of the team, while even a portable VHF would support the communication between the participants of the raid.

Safety equipment

Obviously, we must have everything provided by legislation, our mobile phone and a satellite transmitter (Spot) in case of long trips away from the coast. The navigation instruments must include a good compass and a GPS, fixed or portable, which will be able to ensure the correct course even if it happens to get off of the rest of the team. Even a portable VHF would allow us to ask for help or contact with the other vessels.
The pharmacy box should always be present on the boat, let alone if we have to travel for many miles or visit distant and deserted areas. It is not necessary to carry a complete surgery kit, but we need to have common medicines. The most common problems are those caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, exposure to wind and sudden temperature fluctuations that can cause sunburns, sunstroke, conjunctivitis, etc. In order to avoid such problems, we would just need to get protected by wearing proper clothes, while we should always wear sunglasses and cover the parts of our skin that are exposed to the sun with high protection sunscreen creams.

ομαδική εξόρμηση - αποστολή με φουσκωτά σκάφη

Pharmacy box
Ointment for burns.
A broad spectrum antibiotic in case of fever.
An antihistamine for allergies, insect bites, etc.
A preparation for treating diarrhea e.g. Imodium, an enteric disinfectant, Bimixin or equivalent, to treat intestinal problems.
An antiemetic, Stimetil or equivalent.
Two disinfectants, one for wounds and one for making water drinkable, such as Amuchina, which will also serve for washing wounds and sunburns.
A pair of scissors and tweezers.
Disposable scalpel (at least 2).
A package of sterile gauzes.
A cylindrical patch of 3 cm height.
A cotton pack.
Bandages and gauzes of various sizes.
A haemostatic bandage.

And now there’s nothing left but to wish you: «in c ... alla balena»!!!

...keep Ribbing!