Before you take your boat out on the water, it’s important that you give someone your float plan. A float plan is your detailed agenda of how long you expect to be away and where you expect to be. Typically, it includes your name, phone number, address, all passengers’ names and numbers, special medical conditions, emergency contacts, registration information, vessel information, fuel capacity, safety equipment, trip itinerary, signal equipment and a list of communication. Creating your float plan is fairly simple.
Float Plans for Short Outings
If you plan on taking a short day outing, you should at minimum:
- Call someone you know and trust before you leave and let them know where you plan on boating and when you plan to get back.
- Provide your contact with the local authorities phone number should you not return when expected.
- When you return, contact this person and let them know. Also, let them know if you plan on extending your trip.
Float Plans for Extended Outings
If you plan on taking an extended trip, create a float plan and leave it with a friend or relative. Follow these steps when creating your float plan:
- Describe your boat and include its length, make, registration number, engine type and horsepower.
- Include your license plate of your trailer and tow vehicle and description.
- Provide the passengers’ numbers, names, addresses and their emergency contact information.
- Include where you are going, your planned departure time, your detailed route and when you expect to return. Also include all stopping point locations, dates and times.
- Give your contact the local authorities’ phone number incase you don’t come back when expected. Provide them with the US Coast Guard’s phone number if you plan to boat on waters under their jurisdiction.
You can use this Float Plan form through the US Coast Guard Auxiliary to create your float plan. If you do have an emergency, the USCG and other authorities will need many details to begin their search and rescue. By using this form and completing it out entirely, you can ensure they get all the information they need.
Complete your plan and remember to include the steps above. If you are delayed or have a change of plans, be sure to notify the person who has your float plan. When you return from your trip, notify the holder and let them know you have safely returned home and they can close your plan. Always be sure your boat insurance policy is up to date.