SMSA Cruise Program Info:  
Cruise Program Overview


Participation in SMSA cruises contributes to the sailing pleasure, skills, and achievements of members in several ways:

  • Provides opportunities to make new friends and to maintain old friendships.

  • Enhances sailing safety by the presence of companion boats.

  • Extends sailing enjoyment through the sharing of ideas and experiences with others members in seeking out new destinations and dealing with unexpected situations.

  • Enables new sailors to acquire skills and confidence through close association with more experienced sailors.

Cruise Procedures


Each Cruise Leader will confirm or amend the cruise itinerary information, as published in [the] yearbook, by publishing an article in “The Clew” a month before the scheduled cruise and by email to those who have expressed interest in cruising. If you plan to make a particular cruise, be alert for this update as there may be important changes. Cruises of two or more SMSA boats can be added to the schedule with 36-hour notice to all cruisers via email.


Inform the Cruise Leader if you plan to go on a cruise, plan to join late, or must cancel your cruise plans. If joining late, try to confirm by cell phone the latest position and plans of the cruise.


Departure times are for guidance based upon the distance of the transit. Departure times for each day will be confirmed the preceding evening at the raft for those boats desiring to cruise in company.


Each skipper should attempt to contact the Cruise Leader by marine VHF radio upon getting underway, and at other times requested by the Cruise Leader. If no other times are specified, SMSA boats should check in with the Cruise Leader at 1000 and 1400 daily. While channel 16 must be monitored, at check-in times please hail on and monitor channel 9 (if possible), shifting channels to follow flotilla traffic. The Cruise Leader may specify an alternative working channel for communications on a given cruise, keeping in mind that all boats may not have all channels.


Destinations listed in {the} yearbook are for planning purposes. They may be changed at the discretion of the Cruise Leader, particularly with the prospect of unfavorable weather. The Cruise Leader should keep in mind that late starting boats may be trying to intercept the cruise at an advance destination. The Cruise Leader may allow points for cruise participation to boats proceeding to other destinations along this route, providing the Cruise Leader is contacted and accepts the reason for the change. Acceptable reasons may include need for repairs or supplies, or two or more boats may simply wish to explore an alternate destination.


All SMSA boats on a cruise should display the SMSA burgee from the masthead or starboard spreader.

Cruise Leader Responsibilities

A Cruise Leader is expected to:

  • Obtain background and current navigational information on the destinations. The Cruise Leader may change listed destinations, if it appears a safer or more enjoyable cruise will result.

  • Provide an article to the editor of “The Clew” in time to be published a month before the cruise. (“The Clew” deadline is the 15th of each month.) The article should confirm or amend the information in the yearbook, provide background information, announce special activities, suggest reservations where appropriate, etc. An email to the cruising list with similar information is appropriate.

  • If unable to take leadership of a cruise, inform the Cruise Governor and try to arrange for one of the known participants to take over.

  • Establish radio communication with other boats on the cruise. Set up specific times or marks at which communication checks are to be made, if the 1000 and 1400 times are not practical.

  • Carry out the responsibilities of Raft Master, as listed below, or designate a qualified alternate to do so.

  • Be alert to weather conditions. Act promptly to change or cancel a destination if weather is threatening.

  • Keep a log of members qualifying for cruise participation points, as described below. Provide this log to the Cruise Governor as soon as possible following the cruise.

  • Provide a follow-up article to the editor of “The Clew.” The article may describe the adventures and misadventures of the cruise, and list the boats and members who participated.

Port Captains

On cruises of one or more weeks, the Cruise Leader may ask for Port Captain volunteers. A Port Captain is expected to assist the Cruise Leader by assuming the Cruise Leader’s responsibility for an individual port of visit. This will include:

  • Gathering information before the port visit, disseminating the plans for that port, leading the cruise during the day prior to arrival, and organizing all activities during the visit.

  • Cruisers should contact the Cruise Leader well before departure to volunteer to be a Port Captain.


The SMSA raft tradition is one of the most pleasant social features of a cruise. A happy raft, however, must be a safe one, and responsibility falls on all concerned.

The Cruise Leader is normally the Raft Master and as such directs the formation, maintenance, and break-up of the raft. Specific responsibilities are as follows:

  • Arrive early, or request one of the larger boats to arrive early, and select the anchorage. A large anchor should be set with plenty of scope, as the raft will impose much higher loads than normal.

  • Direct arriving boats to the raft, alternating sides to keep the raft in balance.

  • Oversee the mooring of new arrivals to insure that spreaders of outboard boats are located slightly aft of those of the adjacent inboard boats so as to preclude mutual damage if the boats roll excessively. Ensure that spring lines are rigged to prevent fore and aft relative movement of boats, and ensure that adequate fenders are placed between boats. Wakes can cause violent movement.

  • Initiate action to set additional anchors or start new rafts if the initial raft becomes too large. Additional anchors should be used only in well-protected anchorage and in mild weather conditions. When a raft cannot swing readily with the wind and current, potentially damaging stresses can build up, and multiple anchor rodes may foul when conditions force raft rotation. If separate rafts are established, each should have a designated Raft Master.

  • Ensure that a watch is kept for anchor dragging, the raft swinging aground or into other boats, and the approach of bad weather.

  • Direct break-up of the raft at nightfall or on the approach of bad weather. In general, it is not prudent for more than two or three boats to remain rafted in strong winds or when retiring.

Individual skippers should conform to a few simple rules to ensure happy, safe participation in a raft.

  • Follow the instructions of the Raft Master, normally the Cruise Leader, when approaching, mooring, or departing the raft.

  • Have sufficient lines to secure bow and stern, and to place spring lines, to the inboard yacht. Mooring lines should be strong enough (generally 3/8” or larger, preferably nylon) to secure the boat and those that may moor outboard of it.

  • Have sufficient fenders, in size and number, to prevent damaging contact between boats. The receiving boat may be expected to put out at least one fender as an indication of readiness to receive another boat alongside, but the approaching boat has primary responsibility to provide fending gear.

  • Assist the next boat by receiving their lines. Help the arriving boat in securing lines, adjusting their relative position, and the placement of their fenders.

  • Have some light snacks to share during the social hour. Drinks and food should be handled with special care and consideration when visited other boats.

  • If leaving the raft before general break-up, notify the boats on either side and verify that they are ready to handle lines before backing out. Lines from outboard boats should be passed across forward as the departing boat withdraws.

Cruising Participation Points

Awards are given each year to the three SMSA members acquiring the most cruising participation points. New burgees are awarded to SMSA cruisers who amass 35 or more cruising points in a calendar year, providing that thet have not been awarded a new burgee during the prior season. Replacement burgees are also available at any time for $35 from the Cruise Program Chair.

One cruise participation point is awarded to members on board their own boats for each day of sailing in company with a cruise, and one for each night anchored in company with a cruise (thus, a weekend cruise would qualify a member for three points). A cruise fleet must contain at least two boats for each day of the cruise in order to accrue points.

Members on boats in the cruise area, but not in company with the main cruise, may receive points at the discretion of the Cruise Leader. Valid reasons for separation may include going into port for supplies, or two or more SMSA boats may be exploring non-scheduled points of interest.

Points will be awarded to boats attending cruises added to the printed schedule as long as a notice is sent to all cruisers by email at least 36-hours prior to departure.

Cruisers will also receive points for attending the Second Saturday Cruisers Rafts, whether they are on the water or on land. Three cruise points will be awarded for the [overnight] meetings that take place on the water, and one point for those on land.

Points are awarded to club boats, regardless of who may be on board. Hence, if a member loans his boat to another member, the owner of the boat will receive the points. If several members cruise aboard a club boat, only the owner of the boat will receive cruise points.

Special Recognition

SMSA also recognizes members who have accomplished unique cruising achievements during a season. These include greatest distance cruised, cruising over 1,000 miles, and rendering emergency assistance to other boats. The Cruise Governor must be informed of such accomplishments in time to make arrangements for appropriate awards presented at the annual awards banquet.

Second Saturday Cruiser’s Rafts

Second Saturday Cruiser’s Rafts are opportunities for cruisers to socialize year round. If it is too hot or cold to raft-up on the water, cruisers meet at the clubhouse. If the weather permits, cruisers will raft up somewhere close by on the Patuxent.  November through March, and for the month of August, cruisers will plan to meet at the clubhouse. For the remaining months, cruisers will plan to meet on the water. However, if the weather forecast is bad on Friday, cruisers will receive an email from the raft leader to reschedule for the clubhouse.

When on land at the clubhouse, socializing starts at 5:00pm and goes on until around 8:00pm. Cruisers bring hors d’oeuvres and something to share for a potluck dinner.

When on the water, the typical cruising format will apply, with happy hour starting around 4:00pm. Though cruisers can split up for dinner, we hope that many will still participate in a potluck dinner to extend the socializing.

Southern Maryland Sailing Association
PO Box 262, Solomons, Maryland 20688
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