Why should you have a float plan? Why, accidents happen and when you’re working with a big piece of machinery like a boat or car many things can go wrong. Think of this as like having insurance. Insurance will not prevent an accident, but it will help after the fact. Having a solid float plan implemented will help prevent loss of life, a burden that is immensely difficult to live with.
In an ideal world, the skipper would draft up a new float plan every time the boat left port. This is not usually the case on a personal craft, but it’s important to have more than just a basic float plan. The official definition of ‘float plan’ is a written statement with the details of an intended voyage, left with a friend, neighbor, and family members. This document would ideally include every passenger aboard including name, age, and gender, equipment aboard, type of vessel, crew members, and emergency procedures in addition to the itinerary, updated every time you set sail. When you hand this float plan to somebody stay on land, make sure to mention your intended destination, stops, and approximate return time. If you are boating alone, you can leave your float plan at home or in your vehicle or in an easy to access spot at home or work. You can take preventative precautions into your hands by owning an emergency device like an EPIRB, ACR, or PLB.
We recommend having an electronic copy with both basic and concrete information that can be easily changed and print out a dozen copies. Less time is required for filling out the plan if you have a sort of ‘template’ float plan already. Having the ability to easily edit a float plan is a necessity for keeping up to date. It is best to have as much information as possible to best help locate your boat after the United States Coast Guard is contacted, and this is probably the easiest way to do it!
You can have the official United States Coast Guard float plan template by clicking here. Stay safe!