Driving from point A to point B can be as simple as hopping into your car, starting the engine and speeding off toward your destination.
However, it’s a completely different story when it comes to boating.
Before you get going, there is one very important step that you should take: leaving a float plan with a trusted individual.
In this article, we will talk about all of the pieces of information you should include in your float plan.
A comprehensive float plan is vital for having your boat located just in case a mishap at sea happens.
Just Another Part of the Plan
Everyone knows that going on a boat trip is a fun and exciting pursuit.
To make the most out of the adventure, planning ahead is a definite must.
You should see to it that everything is set perfectly for a grand time.
The departure time, route, destination, and other essentials such as snacks, binoculars, sunscreen, shades and a digital camera.
However, there is one very important thing that should be carried out before heading out on a boat trip.
And that is creating a float plan.
Once it is completed, it should then be left in the hands of a trusted family member or friend who is not going with you on your venture.
Put simply, a float plan is a written summary of your boating itinerary.
No, it’s not done to make for a smooth-sailing boating experience.
But rather make sure that you can be found when you need to be found.
Accidents happen when we least expect them.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t be called accidents.
They can strike at any given time and any given place, including out at sea.
The problem with having an accident while boating is that there are no bystanders to lend a helping hand or call the police without delay.
Longer Trips Require It
Just like when going to a party or a getaway, it’s generally a good idea to tell someone you care about and also who cares about you where you’re headed.
Who you’re with and when you’re coming back.
Well, the same should be done most especially if you’re going on a boating adventure.
A lot of things could happen while you’re out there, and that’s why having someone know of your itinerary is a definite must.
Just in case something unexpected or untoward happens at sea, he or she can immediately alert the authorities.
If your being on the water won’t take up an entire day, then it’s usually more than enough to simply tell someone you trust about your plan.
So in other words, there is really no need to come up with and leave a float plan.
However, for longer voyages out at sea you should definitely have a float plan.
You can easily download a template on the internet or simply come up with your own.
Just see to it that your float plan has just about anything and everything necessary so that you could be rescued faster and without much trouble should an accident strike.
Information to Include
As mentioned earlier, you can simply download a float plan template on the internet to make sure that what you are about to leave to a relative or friend or even the local marina is comprehensive.
The truth is there is no standard form for a float plan.
Also, it’s something that’s not really required by the US Coast Guard although it is highly recommended.
If you wish to skip downloading and filling out a float plan template, see to it that your float plan from scratch mentions the following:
- Your name and various pertinent information like your address and telephone number
- Name, address, telephone number and emergency contact person of every individual on board with you
- Medical issues (diabetes, hypertension, allergies, asthma, etc.) of passengers that may have to be addressed
- Name of the vessel and documentation or registration number
- A detailed description of the vessel (including the type, color, size, engine, and horsepower)
- Information about the owner or operator of the vessel
- Where you are going as well as proposed route and stops along the way
- The planned departure time and expected return time, too
- Safety equipment on board (life rafts, life vests, lifesavers, flares, paddles, smoke signals, etc.)
- Communication and navigation gears onboard (VHF radio, satellite telephone, GPS, etc.)
It sounds like a lot of details to provide, right?
But just in case you ran into an emergency situation or got caught in a storm out there, you’d surely be more than glad that you had created a well-detailed float plan.
By the way, don’t forget to get in touch with the person who has your float plan the moment that you have safely returned from your boating trip or if you are expecting a delay in your arrival time.
While coming up with a float plan, it’s also a wonderful idea for you to also complete a pre-departure checklist.
Usually, you can easily download it where there is an available float plan template on the internet.
Just like what it’s called suggests, a pre-departure checklist contains a listing of all the things that should be carried out before you have your boating adventure commenced.
Some of the most important steps that a pre-departure checklist will ask you to take before heading out include:
- Checking that all equipment is on board and all mechanical aspects are in working condition
- Ensuring that batteries are charged, fluid levels are optimal and fuel available is enough for the trip
- Informing the passengers where first aid kits and various safety tools are located
- Seeing to it that the necessary documentation (boater education card, fishing license, etc.) are on board
- Getting the latest weather forecast and handing the float plan to a responsible or trusted person
Once you have handed the float plan to someone you can count on and completed the pre-departure checklist, you’re all set to have a grand time out there. Happy boating!
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For all boating trips, a float plan should be filled out and left with a trustworthy individual before you depart. If you should not return as planned, the plan helps people to know where you are going, when you intend to return, who is going with you and what emergency measures or rescue agencies should be informed.
Do not apply it to the U.S. until you complete your float plan. Coast Guard or some other responder in an emergency. Distribute the plan, digitally or hard copy, to your trusted contacts and send them instructions on who to call and when if they do not hear from you.
It’s necessary to close your float plan upon returning from your voyage. inform the responsible person that you safely arrived back. An unnecessary search may be undertaken if you do not, wasting valuable search and rescue resources.