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What is a Float Plan and Why Every Boater Needs One

What is a Float Plan and Why Every Boater Needs One
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family on a yacht

Float plans are an essential tool for boaters, especially in case of emergencies on the water. They serve as a detailed itinerary of your boating trip, containing vital information about your boat, planned route, expected timeline, and passengers. This document is shared with a trusted individual on shore, such as a friend, family member, or marina staff, who can notify authorities if you do not return as scheduled. It offers a sense of security, knowing that help will be on the way if you encounter any difficulties.

Who Should Create a Float Plan?

No matter if you’re paddling in a kayak, zipping around on a jet ski, or cruising on a luxurious yacht, having a float plan is a wise decision for anyone venturing out on the water. Prioritizing safety is key, and having a float plan in place ensures that you’re prepared for any situation that may arise. And remember, while it’s important to create one, there’s no requirement to formally submit it to the US Coast Guard.

Key Components of a Float Plan

A comprehensive float plan should include the following elements:

Vessel Information:

  1. Make, model, and type of the boat
  2. Registration number
  3. Hull identification number
  4. Length, color, and any distinguishing features

Trip Details:

  1. Departure point and time
  2. Destination(s)
  3. Planned route (including any planned stops)
  4. Estimated time of return

Communication Equipment:

  1. Types of communication devices on board (e.g., VHF radio, satellite phone)
  2. Emergency beacon information (EPIRB or PLB)

Crew and Passenger Information:

  1. Names and contact information
  2. Medical conditions or special needs
  3. Emergency contact details

Emergency Procedures:

  1. Actions to take if the trip extends beyond the expected return time
  2. Local Coast Guard or maritime authority contact information

Check out a sample float plan for a comprehensive guide. File it before your trip – the earlier, the better. If there are any changes, keep your trusted contact in the loop to avoid any unnecessary rescue missions.

Why a Float Plan is Crucial

  1. Safety: The primary purpose of this document is to enhance safety. If you encounter an emergency, having a float plan increases the chances of a timely rescue.
  2. Peace of Mind: Knowing that someone on shore is aware of your plans and will initiate a search if you don’t return as expected can provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
  3. Efficiency in Emergencies: In the unfortunate event of an emergency, rescue teams have a starting point and valuable information that can expedite the search and rescue process.
  4. Legal and Insurance Benefits: In some areas, having a float plan might be a legal requirement or a condition of your insurance policy.

Simple Tips for Your Next Excursion

For shorter weekend getaways, your float plan doesn’t have to be overly formal. Simply jot down your destination, list your onboard guests, and note your expected return time on a piece of paper. Don’t forget to keep your trusted contact in the loop about your plans – it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget! And remember, always close the loop on your float plan once your boating adventure is over. Notify your contact that you’ve safely returned, ensuring peace of mind for all.

Create a Float Plan For Your Next Boating Trip

Prepare a float plan before embarking on your next adventure – it’s your key to safety and peace of mind on the water. Don’t underestimate its importance, as it could be the essential tool you never realized you needed.
Sample Float Plan

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