Float plans are one of the best preparations for boating emergencies. It is a boater’s safety plan — peace of mind that if you find yourself in trouble out on the water, authorities will find you. A float plan is a document that provides an overview of your boating excursion that you can give to a trusted person before embarking. If for any reason you do not make it to your final destination, your trusted source can notify authorities. This document will allow them to have an exact map of your journey, resulting in a faster rescue should you be lost out at sea.
Anyone can create a float plan, from kayakers to jet skiers to those cruising the waterways in a yacht. No matter how you plan to travel, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Trusted sources can include a family member, reliable friend, marina dockmaster, or really, anyone you trust. One thing to point out, it is not necessary to file a float plan directly with the US Coast Guard.
A float plan at the very least should include: a description of your boat; the number of people on board at the time of your journey; your final destination and the route you are taking to get there; contact information; and a timeline of events. The more details, the better though, and try to be as descriptive as possible. Include details such as the color of the vessel size, engines, and ID number. It is also a good idea to provide details of the marina you departed from or the launch ramp. Include the names of every passenger onboard and include their age and gender. Describe the intended route in detail and provide multiple contact points for those onboard, including cell phones, VHF radio, and home addresses. Focus on pivotal places and times you will check in or when you plan to return from your boating venture.
View an example of a float plan document and everything it entails. File the plan before your trip; the more time, the better. If plans change for any reason, be sure to contact your trusted source to notify them of any changes to avoid an unwanted missions trip.
Although a detailed float plan is ideal for extended travel, it doesn’t have to be formal. If you plan a weekend trip, you can jot down on a piece of paper where you plan to go, the guests onboard, and when you plan to be back. Always keep your trusted contact updated if you say you are going to do so. It is easy to forget when enjoying time away, but your trusted source may think you’re in trouble. Last but not least, never leave a float plan open. If your boating excursion is complete, notify your contact that the trip has ended and all went as planned. Click the button below to print out a float plan for your next excursion. For more safety information while boating, click to view the articles below.