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Old 16-01-2021, 11:12   #1
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"Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

By way of introduction to my interest in this topic, I'm a long time small boat coastal sailor in New England with increasing experience as capable crew on 28'+ sailboats - mainly day sailing but some multi-night cruises.

I'm dreaming of/planning on buying my own 28'-34' sailboat this or next spring for day sails, New England week long cruising and perhaps a trip down the coast to Florida, Bahamas and jump to Caribbean within a few years.

I was once advised that joining a flotilla can offer a lot of support (and fun) and I was wondering if a "flotilla planned / wanted" section, like the crew available / wanted section, would be useful?

Interested in opinion, reasoning and any thoughts on flotillas in general - particularly those leaving from southeast US to Caribbean.

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Old 17-01-2021, 10:01   #2
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

I understand the safety in numbers instinct but the last thing I’d want is to be offshore in close proximity to another vessel. You increase the chance of getting too close for comfort. It doesn’t take too many similar sized vessels traveling at similar speeds to crowd a rhumbline from point A to point B. My personal opinion is that the logistics of keeping all the participants at a safe distance from one another would increase anxiety as opposed to providing a comfort factor. Especially when some are short handed or in my case singlehanded.
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Old 21-01-2021, 13:22   #3
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

I have to agree with Orion Jim.
I guess sailing in numbers may sometimes provide a safety margin however there are many times when it offers nothing. It's not like you are in visual contact with these boats all the time. For example in racing to Bermuda with a 100+ other boats you can go days without seeing another boat. The time it takes for a flotilla boat to get to you may not be fast enough if you are not properly prepared.
As a CCA ( Cruising Club of America) member I urge you to take the Safety at Sea training course that will provide you with the knowledge to become more self sufficient. It is money well spent.
I wish you the very best and encourage you to go and follow you dreams just be well prepared.
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Old 21-01-2021, 19:56   #4
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

Thank you both for the advice. Appreciate the perspectives and (mostly) swayed. Besides, plan on quite a lot of coastal cruising before making any big jumps.
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Old 21-01-2021, 19:58   #5
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

I actually think it is great idea. We have the Bahaha that goes to Baja California on a yearly basis. There is a flotilla in the Northwest that goes to Alaska....they are motorboaters and you have to do 8 knots so it would be great if they had a sailboat one.
It is a great way to meet people with common interest and when the time comes I will probably do the Bahaha.
I do think that if you are going to do a flotilla you should already have experience in sailing and not use it for the sole purpose of learning.

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Old 21-01-2021, 20:11   #6
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

The Points East magazine, in the pre-COVID19 era, used to organize flotillas sailing from Mount Desert Island to Nova Scotia and Bay of Fundy. I never participated, but you can find reports from people who did. I think everyone enjoyed themselves!

Flotilla doesn't mean that you sail in close proximity next to other boats. Typically, they are run similarly to yacht club cruises, in that boats arrive at each location on a designated day, often with organized mooring or dock space reservations, and some communal activities, like cookouts, etc.
... He knows the chart is not the sea.
-- Philip Booth, Chart 1203
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Old 21-01-2021, 20:16   #7
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

Many Power boat clubs and marinas in South Florida have organized floatillas to the Bahamas every summer (except 2020 Covid). Somehow they manage to maintain safe distance from one another and never have issues! With advance notice and reservations, they get thru customs, fuel up quicker and can get priority dockage. Some stay at docks while others anchor out. Always fun cruises - whether first timer or old hand at the crossing.
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Old 21-01-2021, 20:23   #8
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

Being basically an anti-social sort, for me, the idea of a flotilla sort of defeats the purpose of going to sea, but I do understand that is not everybody's perspective.

One big downside I have observed with large flotillas with many inexperienced sailors is the "analysis paralysis" experienced when it comes time to pick a weather window to leave. Yes, theoretically, every skipper makes his own decision, but it is easy for the group to be swayed by the one or two most timid, indecisive and tentative boats in the fleet.

Invariably the perfect becomes the enemy of the good, and multiple good departure windows come and go because they are not everybody's idea of "perfect."

It might not be fair because I have had enough experience and learning to have confidence in my choices, while someone new to the game is looking for the wisdom of the crowd to help validate decisions. Unfortunately, what they all too often end up with is best described as the lowest common denominator.

I imagine that new sailors picture this coordinated fleet of vessels moving in harmony across the sea within easy hailing distance of each other for a thousand miles or more. That is just not reality.

Boats very quickly disperse, scattered by different speeds, pointing ability, and sailing skills. Once they get a dozen miles apart, they start to experience different winds, and that spreads them even further. After 3 days you will be lucky to be within reliable VHF range of any other boat. Crashing into your fellow flotilla members will not be a real world concern.
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Old 21-01-2021, 20:36   #9
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

For the East Coast - Caribbean jump the Salty Dawg rally runs every fall (don’t know if they went this year).

We had the Oyster RTW rally around us for about 18 months, tried to get in front of them as much as possible, coming into port when they were around meant anchorages were full (and marinas, but not much effect on us), any marine service providers were fully booked, and it was just generally crowded.
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Old 27-01-2021, 07:58   #10
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

I'd be interested in this idea. I'm checking out the Salty Dog page and that looks really neat.
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Old 27-01-2021, 08:24   #11
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Re: "Flotilla planned or wanted" section a good idea?

The flotilla type events I was in, I was rarely within VHF range of another boat. The times I was, there was a lot of chatter and there was still plenty of distance. In one case I was within 5 miles of another boat, and we were both singlehanding, and would hand the watch over to each other, so we never slept at the same time.
I think flotillas add security to those that need some assurance as they gain experience, and I don't think they add any real danger. I'm not sure how much use another section would be though. Most flotilla's are well known and regular, or else they just happen as a group of boats become friends while in port and all leave together.
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