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The Float Plan: A Simple But Valuable Safety Net



Using a float plan is a very simple yet very effective way of increasing your level of protection out on the water. If you have never filled out a float plan and think it's complicated, think again! Once your float plan procedure has been set into place, actually filling it out and employing it is quick and easy.


What Is A Float Plan?

Mariners crossing large bodies of water know the value of a good float plan and would never leave home without filing one. A float plan is a document that describes essential information about your trip; a description of your vessel, where you are going, when you will return, and the protocol to follow in the event of an emergency. A Float Plan ensures that if there is an unexpected incident or accident and break in communication, action will be taken to find you soon after you do not arrive at the specified time and place.


Creating Your Float Plan System

Most of the work that goes into a float plan is the initial setup. You can start by finding a Float Plan Guardian(s) that will take part in the system. In many cases, family and friends will be a natural choice because they obviously care about your safety. After finding someone reliable to accept your trip float plans, put together a document that includes the following:
  • a detailed description of your boat
  • a list of safety equipment, electronics, and radio equipment on board
  • emergency contacts and phone numbers (Coast Guard, marine assistance service providers, family/friends)
  • room for itinerary information including destination, place of departure, departure time, stopover points, and destination arrival dates
  • a description of the passengers on board (age, medical conditions, etc.)
Note that this information can be written in a number of ways, such as digital forms or very simple paper forms.

Digital forms that always contain static information about your boat, equipment, and contact numbers allow you to quickly add variable information such as destinations, dates, and times. These digital forms can be created in any spreadsheet or word processing program. Two advantages of using digital forms are that they can be sent to Guardians over the Internet and quickly printed out when needed.

Plain paper forms can consist of two parts. One part containing all the static information about your boat, equipment, and contact numbers: this can be a plain piece of paper posted on a family bulletin board or a laminated card that can be carried in a wallet. The second part will contain the variable information: places, dates, and times. This part could be hand written on a piece of paper and given to the Float Plan Guardian.

After completing the initial setup, you are left with an efficient system that will allow you to quickly put together and file a float plan before any trip. You will have a safety net in place that will spring into action when you are confronted with a break in communication and need for assistance.


Float Plan Tips

  • Consider prevailing weather conditions and vessel speed.
  • If there is mid-course change in your float plan make a point to check in and have your guardian(s) record the changes on your float plan.
  • Close out your float plan after arriving at your final destination.

Download Sample Float Plans

Excel Spreadsheet
OpenOffice Spreadsheet
PDF Document

Wed, April 26, 2017





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